First Coffee for 17 January, 2006

David Sims : First Coffee
David Sims
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First Coffee for 17 January, 2006

By David Sims

The news as of the first coffee this morning, and the music is U2’s “Beautiful Day:”

Watched the Olympics last night, the exhibition event some misguided folks consider a sport, figure skating. Oh I don’t have anything against it, skating’s entertaining but any time a bunch of “judges” decide who wins instead of the competitors themselves winning and losing among themselves according to clearly-understood rules it’s not a sport. Especially when the “judging” is so obviously corrupt and biased, as the Salt Lake City Olympics proved – Marie-Rene Le Gougnet, anyone?

Fun to watch, quite athletic, skillful and difficult, but about as much of a sport as ballroom dancing, ballet or cheerleading. Now if they had three or four skaters all do their routines at the same time, and allowed body-checking, especially on pairs, with a points system that’s a sport I could get into.

Disturbing news in Electronic Engineering Times for the RFID chip industry. It seems that Adi Shamir, professor of computer science at the Weizmann Institute, told a panel discussion at the RSA Conference that he can pretty easily hack the most popular RFID chip and steal all the information.

Saying all he and his associate needed was an ordinary cell phone, noting that they hadn’t tested all brands of RFID chip, “we did test the biggest brand and it is totally unprotected.”

A cell phone “has all the ingredients you need to conduct an attack and compromise all the RFID tags in the vicinity,” he concluded.

Shamir said the pressure to get tags down to five cents each has forced designers to eliminate any security features, a shortcoming that needs to be addressed in next-generation products.

In recent weeks, EET reports, “Shamir used a directional antenna and digital oscilloscope to monitor power use by RFID tags while they were being read. Patterns in power use could be analyzed to determine when the tag received correct and incorrect password bits, he said.”

The reflected signals contain a lot of information, Shamir observed: “We can see the point where the chip is unhappy if a wrong bit is sent and consumes more power from the environment, to write a note to RAM that it has received a bad bit and to ignore the rest of the string,” he added.

GlobeTel watch: It’s the middle of February and still no word on GlobeTel closing that eye-popping $600 million deal for Russian wi-fi with some mysterious Russian partner that took everyone by surprise. They were supposed to close January 31st, that got pushed back for rather unspecified reasons, stock holders are looking to February 28th with increasingly white knuckles on crossed fingers.

And hey, since it’s Friday, kind of a kick-back day, I’ll reprint an e-mail I got about GlobeTel. Oh heavens, not one from those unhinged penny-stockers who accuse me of having some sort of stake in this matter, as if I’d buy such a highly unstable stock in the first place [I own absolutely no financial interest in anything remotely to do with GlobeTel and I’ll do everything in my power to keep it that way], the tinfoil-hat brigade who immediately assume that Seth Jayson, myself and anyone who writes critically of such a overpromising and underdelivering company is in the pay of a cabal of stock market-fixers, those people are in severe need of a life. Severe.

No, I got this e-mail out of the blue from Vladimir Draitser, whom I have never met and do not know:

After reading your February 9 th article regarding GTE and its contract with Russian company Internafta, I have done some research on the Internet and found an article discussing current state of WiMax business in Russia.

This article was published on January 30, 2006 in Russian daily newspaper “Business.” Strangely enough there was no mentioning about neither Globe Tel nor Internafta, while talking about $150 million contract for providing WiMax based services basically to the same cities in Russia as the GTE’s “contract” specifies.

I would appreciate your comments on this subject, since GTE would not talk about it with me.

He then attaches this URL for the Russian article

[], and this translation, and folks, I do not speak or read Russian, I have no idea if this is the actual translation or not, I am not vouching for its authenticity, I haven’t changed a byte from what I received, but it’s Friday, and maybe someone could verify the publication and translation if they’re so inclined, start quote:

Large investors even more often pay attention to wireless technologies of broadband access in the Internet. The last year in Russia the arrogant projects based on technology WiMax have been started some, the total sum of investments has made some tens millions dollars. One of these days company “ Энфорта “ has declared readiness the nearest half-year to start to render services in 12 cities of Russia, having constructed there a network on pre-WiMax-equipment with use of chipsets Intel. More than $50 million is invested in project “Энфорты” by the Japanese corporation Sumitomo and fund Baring Vostok. To tell the truth, analytics consider, that “Энфорта” yet does not maintain terms of construction and the message aspires to calm shareholders more likely.

About the project of Dutch company “ Энфорта “ on construction of a wireless network on basis WiMax for the first time it became known even in the summer of the last year. Then Japanese corporation Sumitomo has declared purchase of 50 % of “Энфорты” shares, owning 100% of Russian company “ Prestige – Internet”. As this company had licenses for granting of services of broadband access in 29 Russian cities, Japanese have decided to sponsor deployment of networks WiMax. “Business - plan” Энфорты “ assumes the investments exceeding $50 million, - director of products “Prestige - Internet” Oleg Tajnov.- informed “Business” the project is financed on construction of a network in 12 cities “.

To tell the truth, in plans of “Энфорты” was to start the network’s commercial operation in 10 cities of Russia already by the end of 2005. But by this time it became clear, that ambitious plans of the company are not justified, and actually for January, 2006 the network is constructed only in two cities - Novosibirsk and Ryazan. Oleg Tajnov recognizes that the network is under construction more slowly, than was planned. He explains a delay expectation of commercial systems WiMax and “the certain specifications in the regulatory plan “. However, it did not become a surprise for the market: even in the summer the founder and general director “Престижинтернет” Victor Ratnikov (former president “Транстелекома”) declared shortage of financing and search of the second investor. In October of the last year the investor has been found – investing fund Baring Vostok Capital Partners.

In fund for financing Russian WiMax give reason perspectives of wireless technologies in the regional markets of Russia. Sumitomo also have hastened to assure, that it is pleased with results “Энфорты”. “Sumitomo with readiness has increased the size of investments “, - the manager for development of business and investment projects in Russia declares corporation Sumitomo Kashiki Katsuja. Nevertheless, participants of the project do not open a level of additional investments and a share of investments Baring Vostok. From informal sources of “Business” it became known, that investors participate in the project in equal shares and that approximately half of the money already invested.

It is necessary to note, that interest Baring Vostok to the WiMax-project not accidental: in July of the last year this organization together with venture fund Intel Capital financed the Russian manufacturer of the WiMax-equipment company Infinet Wireless. Means have been allocated on development of the standard 802.16 supported by Intel. In networks “Энфорты” the equipment of the same Infinet Wireless is now used. Thus, regional WiMax project it will be substantially constructed on the equipment with chipsets Intel. Though participations alternative Infinet Wireless vendors in “Энфорте” also is not excluded.

In analyst J’son and Partners Boris Ovchinnikova opinion, published in the evening on Friday the release as some kind of psychotherapeutic means. “Development of the project was obviously slowed down, - said Овчинников, - the management “Энфорты” should calm shareholders, showing them, that construction of a network proceeds in accordance with the plan “.

As to the sum of investments declared $50 million, in opinion of experts, it is quite sufficient for start of the project. “However additional investments will be necessary for promotion and successful development of a network - about $100-150 million “, -said analyst of “ Коминфо consulting” Eugeny Solomatin.

End quote. There you go, for whatever that’s worth. Any confirmations or corrections on the translation are much appreciated.

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