John Chambers, chief executive at networking giant Cisco, chose his keynote speech at the Networld+Interop IT conference in Las Vegas to give a cautious welcome to signs of an industry recovery.
"In hi-tech, it was not a recession, it was a depression," he said, adding that "for the first time there are some very positive signals".
Chambers was speaking during the week in which his company revealed a three-fold increase in its fiscal third-quarter earnings and saw two per cent growth after months of poor sales.
The Nasdaq tech stock market also saw highs this week.
Chambers explained that the current climate still reflected a "show me" economy, where IT departments remained cautious about parting with their budgets.
While Cisco saw small growth, its main competitors in the networking equipment business - Lucent, Juniper and Nortel - saw a combined 43 per cent drop.
Chambers said that the global recovery would start in the US.
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