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NEW YORK, Nov 11 (Reuters) – Cisco Systems Inc (CSCO) Chief Executive John Chambers said the company will launch a consumer version of its high-definition video conferencing system in around a year, showing he was upbeat about new products despite a weak economy.

"What you’re going to see is, over the next 12 to 15 months … high definition capabilities for TelePresence into the home," Chambers, head of the world’s largest network equipment maker, told reporters on Tuesday.

High-quality video conferencing systems are helping companies save on travel expenses and a consumer version would help people experience something closer to real-life meetings.

Ned Hooper, a Cisco executive in charge of consumer business, told Reuters in September the company would likely launch a home version of its TelePresence system in one to two years.

Since Hooper’s remarks, however, a global financial crisis has sent economies teetering and shriveled up technology spending.

TelePresence systems, which are equipped with large, high-definition screens with built-in microphone and camera lenses, currently cost between $34,000 and $300,000 per unit.

A consumer version is expected to be significantly more affordable, although Chambers declined to elaborate on what the price range would be.

Chambers said Cisco had not yet reached any agreements with phone service providers such as AT&T Inc (T) or Verizon Communications Inc (VZ), which are seen as crucial to ensure customers have access to fast Internet speeds.

Slow speeds mean poor quality video. That is seen as a key challenge to Web-based video chats offered by companies such as eBay’s (EBAY) Skype.

The network equipment maker is looking to expand into new markets such as software and consumer products after establishing its leadership in the routers and switches industry. (Reporting by Ritsuko Ando; Editing by Andre Grenon)

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