Letters to the editor: "Fake network gear"

Mystery of the Broadband Universe; With slip, concerns that XP SP 3 will be cut; ‘Less than zero-day’ threats often overlooked; Coders gone wild; Cisco looks to push high-end IP video; The Year of Sleaze?

Our story “Fake network gear” brought out the ire of gray market vendors. Some found our story irresponsible in generally blurring the lines between black market and gray market. The story used real-world examples to show how buyers can get duped into buying fake gear.

Faking it

I would like to thank you for your story “Fake network gear” (www.nwdocfinder.com /6024). We actually found counterfeit equipment at one of our sites, because of your story. We had been getting CRC errors and reports of network slowness at a site that has two T-1 lines. After reading the story, I showed it to my co-worker, who headed over to the site to see if we had a counterfeit. Sure enough, it was.

Cat Thrasher

Systems network support analyst

County of Santa Cruz

Information Services Department

Santa Cruz, Calif.

I found your story interesting and also very irresponsible. My two companies, TeleQ and DataQ, are among the world’s largest and oldest providers of unused telecom products. We are an independent distributor of Cisco, Avaya, Nortel and 3Com products. For 20 years we have prided ourselves on selling quality and genuine unused gear (we cannot call it new because we are not an authorized distributor of the original manufacturer). Dealers who sell our equipment purchase from us because they know we do not sell counterfeit or black-market equipment.

Your story contends there is a connection between gray market and black market, as well as counterfeit. It would have been nice if you had properly categorized or specifically defined that there is no relationship whatsoever between reputable organizations such as mine that provide a genuine service and companies that promote counterfeit goods. Many of today’s largest retailers, such as Wal-Mart, Safeway, Kmart and Cosco, use the gray market to provide their customers pricing alternatives and provide value to their shareholders. Are you calling these people counterfeiters? Users have tremendous purchasing alternatives by using these legitimate and quality independent channels.

I agree counterfeit products are a huge problem, but maybe if manufacturers worked closely with companies such as mine, they could make more headway in preventing many of the unfortunate situations that may occur when a customer purchases outside the authorized channel.

Your magazine should make it clear to readers that there is a definite difference between independent distribution and counterfeit. And, just as important, there is nothing illegal or irresponsible about dealing with independent distribution that operates in a legitimate business environment.

Andy Silverman

President

The Qgroup

King of Prussia, Pa.

Nice story, but you are just another duped reporter in a long line who get used by the American Gear Manufacturers Association (AGMA) and the big manufacturers to spread their propaganda. What the AGMA and the major manufacturers’ representatives never mention is that they are the cause and source of the entire counterfeit problem. Ask them when they started outsourcing the majority of their manufacturing to China. They act like the counterfeit boom is a big mystery. The Chinese simply run off more of the products that are ordered by U.S. companies and the excess goes to the “big bad gray market.” There is apparently very little control at that level.

The manufacturers have a history of blaming all that goes wrong with the distribution of their equipment on the phantom gray-market resellers. The gray market is an overwhelmingly positive force in this industry — 95% of gray-market product is recycled used, surplus and/or obsolete voice and data hardware. The gray market recycles huge amounts of usable hardware into the secondary market instead of into the ground or onto a boat back to China to be reduced to its base elements and pollute the planet a little more in the process. Ninety-five percent of all IT hardware comes into the gray market via Fortune 500 companies. Look into the membership of the Investment Recovery Association. These large companies, such as General Motors, Sprint, MCI and AT&T, have surplus sales, asset recovery and investment recovery departments dedicated to getting as much money as they can for their respective companies’ trash before it actually becomes trash. Companies such as Cisco have threatened little gray-market companies such as mine but will never go after their big customers such as AT&T and order them to stop selling their surplus into the gray market.

All of the companies plagued by the scourge of counterfeit products on the market care about one thing: bottom-line profit. It’s all about the money they make by creating the counterfeit market themselves.

Dick Giglio

Chief operating officer

Quadrasource

Santa Ana, Calif.

I recently purchased a Modular Smart Array Controller directly from HP at the HP Parts Store for about $700. The benefit of buying from the HP Parts Store is that it’s supposed to be genuine and new. The part came with three yellow tamper stickers on the static bag, one on top of the other. When I removed the product from the bag, it was obviously used/refurbished. It had rub marks where it had been installed and removed from the enclosure multiple times. The final straw was when the controller wouldn’t function.

If I had bought this part from a third party, I would consider this a lesson learned. But considering I purchased it directly from HP, I have to wonder what they’re up to — or what they’ve sunk to.

Bob Hemenway

Salina, Kan.

Fake equipment exists and is a big problem, as stated in your story. What was only suggested — but not said — is that manufacturers and their value-added resellers/distributors are the ones most impacted by the existence of counterfeit gear in the market. It’s not acceptable to judge product authenticity only by its packaging, which is why the best secondary market vendors conduct extensive tests on all equipment resold new or used to guarantee authenticity.

Reputable sellers of pre-owned equipment, such as Network Hardware Resale (NHR), are setting high standards for used products while working with law enforcement to eradicate the counterfeit equipment problem. Every piece of equipment taken into our inventory undergoes comprehensive inspection and testing and is guaranteed to be authentic and function like new. We back our promise by including a standard, one-year, overnight replacement warranty on all equipment at no additional cost.

We look forward to the day when OEMs will work with us to maintain such a level of commitment. For many years, NHR has extended — and will extend again — an open invitation to Cisco to sit down with us and cooperate in our efforts to end the counterfeit problem with its equipment. NHR is 100% committed to the resale of only legitimate equipment.

As the largest marketer of pre-owned network equipment, we know all too often that OEMs try to paint our industry with the same brush as black marketers and counterfeiters. Instead of using the counterfeit threat to inject fear, uncertainty and doubt in the minds of customers, manufacturers should join forces with secondary market providers to stop the proliferation of counterfeit goods and prosecute anyone found reselling such equipment.

Mike Sheldon

President and CEO

Network Hardware Resale

Santa Barbara, Calif.

Broadband tale of woe

Regarding Kevin Tolly’s column, “Mystery of the Broadband Universe”: While Tolly’s comments on broadband providers and their "up to" service is on the mark, there is another wrinkle worth investigating. My broadband provider is Cablevision and I live about an hour north of New York City. My service is rated at up to 2 Mbps. In May, shortly after Cablevision began offering a premium service of up to 3 Mbps and consequently started some throttling, my connection experienced sluggishness in responding to Web requests. Eventually, after the usual Cablevision support and directly attaching my test system to the cable modem, I was able to determine an actual, repeatable download throughput of 1.5 Mbps using Cablevision’s FTP server. The download rate through my Netgear FVS318 v3 router never exceeded 860 Kbps. I started working with Netgear support in June to look at the molasses factor in their router that was consuming over 40% of my bandwidth. There are a couple of ironies here: the FVS318 is Netgear’s low-end business-class offering and not geared to the residential market. Also, a major change from the v2 to the current v3 version was the upgrade from 10 Mbps to 100 Mbps WAN port side. The v3 also has a "much faster CPU". The cable modem is a Motorola 5120sbv, VoIP model. Long story short, I tested the FVS318 v2, 2 FVS318 v3s and several Linksys models. The FVS318s performed the same, ie; poorly and the Linksyses were able to forward packets at basically full speed. About four months into this saga, Netgear replaced my FVS318 with their FVS338 model. I am very happy to report that the FVS338 does not carry the same internal molasses flaw. The history of support dialog that I maintained with Netgear and their four problem report numbers is substantially longer. I often wonder how normal non-technical users can deal with any problems like this.

Jeff Sampson

Somers, N.Y.

Happy with Linux

Regarding “With slip, concerns that XP SP 3 will be cut”: Upgrade fees? Monthly updates? Security concerns? This article makes me more and more relieved that I switched to Linux. I update nightly, have not had a system crash in over two years, and can run a fully featured GUI on Windows 98-era hardware. Actually, I got a case of speed lust last year and upgraded with bits and pieces purchased randomly here and there. As for hardware that Linux did not recognize: none. In fact, from what I can see, Linux now gives far better support on hardware than Windows ever has.

You want to run Windows? Feel free to take the copy that I would have purchased.

Stan McIntosh

Greensboro, N.C.

Zeroing in on hackers

Regarding “‘Less than zero-day’ threats often overlooked”: Before Mu Security I would accept their definition of zero-day. But people don't have to lay back and wait for the inevitable attack (or patch) any more. They can find zero-days themselves, before hackers do, then insist on a fix from their vendors. This changes the game completely.

The approach of taking a holistic approach to security analysis -- making it highly automated and efficient -- and being able to do not only zero-day discovery but also auditing makes the Mu-4000 unique. It's a secret weapon against hackers and lets you stop being the victim. Play the same game, but have a ringer on your team. In fact, make the whole team be ringers.

Kevin Gallagher

Managing partner

Gallagher Group Communications

Danville, Calif.

Not wild about headline

Regarding “Coders gone wild”: I found the content of this article to be very good, but something kept nagging at me. I looked again at the headline and I realized the title puts all the blame for software disorganization on the developers. The subheading even points out the need for governance and management "to keep developers from running amok." The implication is that developers are the source of all disorganization in any software project.

In my experience, this is far from true. While managers in real life might not sport the pointy hairdo of Dilbert's boss, there are some who clearly match his management style. Is it really the developers running amok when a manager requires implementation of services that do not fit the architecture? Do those developers really have a choice? In this fine article that is addressed to managers, it seems inappropriate to put the blame on developers. I hope your editors will think through the implications of your headlines in the future.

Ed Prochak

Senior programmer/analyst

TA Travel Centers

Westlake, Ohio

Video holdup

Regarding “Cisco looks to push high-end IP video”: It amazes me that many of our teens can send text, pictures and video clips via their cell phones, while their parents seem to have trouble meeting in a desktop video teleconference from an expensive office workstation.

Every home computer should be able to send video to every cell phone in America by now. Every home computer should be able to send video into the office video teleconferencing systems without all of these large expenditures for room systems and scheduling requirements. A desktop camera costs well under $100. What is the holdup?

Ramon Collins

Senior systems engineer

Criticom

Lanham, Md.

Sleazy riders

Regarding Mark Gibbs’ BackSpin column, “The Year of Sleaze?”: Please add the health insurance industry to the sleaze list. Similar to the phone bill anecdotes Gibbs mentions, it seems that medical insurance bills frequently contain "errors" that, amazingly, are always in the insurance company's favor. Several years ago I endured nine months of intense chemotherapy for lymphoma while at the same time my wife spent 10 weeks on bed rest, pregnant with our twin boys. Only out of sheer boredom during this period was she able to find the time and muster the interest to study, scrutinize and decipher our insurance bills. I don't believe a single month went by without at least one error being found, and all told, literally thousands of dollars in mistakenly denied coverage was caught.

It was not unusual for promised corrections to never show up on the revised bills or for the errors to resurface again in later bills. The average person without the time, interest, perseverance, or ability to figure it all out would have never caught these errors or seen them through to correction. And that's exactly what they count on.

Keith Royster

Charlotte, N.C.

The year of sleaze? More like a generation of sleaze. Hackers, spammers, phishers, gougers, cheaters, liars, foilware, vaporware, ain’t-got-no-ware and ain’t-goin-no-ware. Backdating options, right-to-first-refusal clauses in option grants, and venture capital and preferred stock deals making it more likely that the rank and file will win the lottery before they see any value out of the company stock. We had the World War II generation, the baby-boom generation, generation X and now the flim-flam generation. Trust no one.

Stephen Moss

Lindon, Utah

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