Claflin to step down as 3Com CEO3Com President and CEO Bruce Claflin last week announced plans to retire, leaving an open timetable for when he will step down as the company begins the search process for his successor. Claflin joined 3Com as president and COO in 1998 and took over as CEO in 2001. Over the past four years, 3Com has operated in the red, but its losses shrank from $349 million in its fiscal year 2004 to about $195 million in 2005. Claflin has stated that he expects the company to be profitable by 2007. Claflin was largely behind 3Com's pullout from the high-end switching and routing market in 2000. He oversaw the divestment of its carrier business, CommWorks, and the company's transformation after the dot-com crash into a small and midsize business and consumer-focused network company, with such products as broadband gear and the Audrey Internet-radio appliance. He also helped engineer the company's more recent efforts to reestablish its large corporate-market presence, including a joint venture with Chinese network giant Huawei Technologies.Cisco and Electronic Data Systems are close to landing a $15 billion network upgrade and outsourcing deal with General Motors, a financial analyst reported last week. Merrill Lynch research analyst Tal Liani issued a report on the potential five-year contract, which would involve the installation and management of new Cisco IP data and voice-network gear by integration giant EDS. Cisco declined to comment. The report says that GM is looking to upgrade to a corporatewide IP telephony infrastructure and to consolidate its data centers with Cisco equipment. The IP voice part of such a contract would be huge for Cisco, Liani writes, as "GM currently has over 200,000 employees in North America. And at a price of around $200 per Cisco IP phone, this implies $40 million worth of revenue simply for upgrading GM's phones." The deal's estimated size also does not account for IP PBX, power-over-Ethernet switches, routers, VoIP gateways and other gear that would be required for such a large-scale project, the report says.A computer tape from a Connecticut bank containing the personal data of 90,000 customers was lost in transit recently, the bank reported last week. The tape contains such information as names, addresses, Social Security numbers and checking account numbers. It was bound for the TransUnion credit-reporting bureau in Woodlyn, Pa., via UPS. The bank says it has not received any reports of unauthorized activity on the affected accounts and has no reason to believe the data has been used improperly. The bank considers misuse of the data "highly unlikely." Loss and theft of personal data has taken on a high profile since the theft of 145,000 consumers' data from credit and personal information vendor ChoicePoint last February. There have been dozens of reported cases of loss or theft of personal information since, involving more than 52 million people, according to a chronology compiled by the Privacy Rights Clearinghouse.An industry group seeking common ground on the emerging IEEE 802.11n high-speed wireless LAN specification has agreed on a compromise proposal that may form the basis of a final standard. Last week the Enhanced Wireless Consortium, which includes backers of all the major factions in the fight over how to boost the speed and range of WLANs, approved the proposal by a unanimous online vote with two abstentions, according to Bill McFarland, CTO at Atheros Communications, a semiconductor vendor that belongs to the group. The 802.11n standard is intended to be the next step up in WLANs, offering throughput of more than 100Mbps and support for multiple VoIP and video streams. But the road to a standard has been long and rocky. The joint-proposal group was formed in the middle of last year after none of the plans that had been proposed could garner enough votes for approval.A project to develop advanced multimedia search technologies led by France's electronic giant Thomson has gone into hiding in the face of intense publicity that it is building a "Google-killer" that will help to improve Europe's standing in the high-tech world. The project, called Quaero, found itself in the spotlight following remarks by President Jacques Chirac of France in a speech laying out his agenda for the nation in 2006. "We must take up the challenge posed by the American giants Google and Yahoo," Chirac said, discussing the importance of technology to Europe's economy. "For that, we will launch a European search engine, Quaero." There was talk of a coming-out party next month where Quaero's goals would be described in more detail, though a spokeswoman for the project said no event has been planned. The scrutiny was apparently too much for Thomson's chairman, Frank Dangeard, who imposed a "news blackout" on Thomson's media staff and ordered the project's Web site to be taken offline.