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Company and tech news from the region.

Blackwell, EKI merge

Chicago-based IT firm Blackwell Consulting Services merged with Electronic Knowledge Interchange (EKI), a technology solutions provider. The name of the new company is BCS.

The merging of the two Chicago-based companies will result in combined annual revenues nearing $60 million and produce one of the largest African-American owned IT consulting services companies in the U.S.

M2M blog debuts

The first weblog dedicated to covering the growth of M2M (machine to machine) technology initiatives recently launched.

The blog features contributions from a team of industry experts and will be moderated by Steve Pazol. Steve is the CEO of Chicago-based nPhase.

The address of the blog is

MicroTek opens classroom rental facility

Oakbrook Terrace-based MicroTek opened a new computer training facility in Chicago. The new facility is at 230 W Monroe.

The 14,000-square-foot classroom rental facility includes 13 classrooms, two café areas, and five e-mail and phone stations. Classrooms are connected to the facility’s T1 lines and the location offers wireless internet access.

ID theft up in state

More than 11,000 Illinois residents said they were victims of identity theft last year, up 15 percent from 2003, according to a recent federal report.

Federal Trade Commission officials in Chicago said identity theft remains consumers’ No. 1 fraud complaint, accounting for 43 percent of all fraud reports in the state last year.

Illinois had the nation’s 10th highest rate of identity theft reported in 2004, based on a percentage of the population. The state’s increase mirrored the nearly 15 percent rise in identity theft nationally, from 214,905 complaints in 2003 to 246,570 last year.

Catbird upgrades monitoring system

Chicago-based Catbird Networks launched a new version of its Intelligent Vulnerability Monitoring (IVM) with new features that allow customers to access all vulnerability information online.

The improved IVM is available to all Catbird customers.. Encrypted attachments are no longer necessary since an e-mail containing a link provides access to view customers‚ security and performance data. Catbird Networks Monitoring stores the data of vulnerability scans into a secure database.

Concourse buys Ingate Technologies

Chicago-based Concourse Communications Group, a neutral-host wireless network operator, recently acquired Ingate Technologies, a California-based company specializing in the installation and management of airport-based, cash-pay Internet terminals.

The company said the acquisition will enable Concourse to broaden its base of potential users to include those business travelers not carrying Wi-Fi enabled laptops and leisure travelers who want to access their e-mails or enjoy instant messaging while on the road.

Telecom tops consumer gripe list

Telecommunications accounted for the greatest source of Illinois consumer gripes for the fourth year in a row, according to Attorney General Lisa Madigan.

Madigan’s office received 848 complaints related to cellular-phone service, including poor reception and dropped calls; 745 complaints of installation problems, billing errors and customer-service mix-ups with local phone service, and 517 long-distance service complaints.

Interface, Onset team up

Chicago-based Interface Software and Onset Technology, a developer of enterprise access software for wireless handheld devices, announced a partnership to provide integration between InterAction, Interface’s CRM product, and Onset’s METAmessage.

METAmessage gives business users access to virtually any data on their enterprise network using wireless devices such as the BlackBerry Wireless Handheld.

Interface said with the integration, users can access and update InterAction Relationship Intelligence in real time directly from their BlackBerry handhelds.

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