April 13, 2007 in Business

Comcast upgrades for upload boost

The Spokesman-Review

Comcast high-speed Internet customers can upload files to the Web more quickly because of upgrades to the company’s system, the corporation announced Wednesday.

The PowerBoost technology, which may increase upload speeds to 1 to 2 megabytes per second, has been active in parts of Washington for weeks, but Comcast wanted to get all regions online before announcing the change, said spokesman Walter Neary. By increasing the number of servers and lines on the network, and using software to juggle how fast data can upload, Comcast can increase speed, he said.

Comcast similarly increased download speed last summer.

To take advantage of the change, customers using standard Comcast modems must unplug the unit for 30 seconds. Those with Comcast Digital Voice can press a pin into the reset button on the back of their combined modem and phone adapter.


Lumber demand to remain weak

Weak demand for lumber will continue to hamper Western sawmills through the end of 2008, according to an industry group’s forecast.

Lumber production at sawmills in the Intermountain West will drop almost 9 percent this year to 5.6 billion board feet, according the Western Wood Products Association, a Portland-based trade group. Production will fall again in 2008 to 5.5 billion board feet, the association predicted.

Much of the fallout is related to home construction, which is a major consumer of lumber, said Butch Bernhardt, WWPA spokesman.

U.S. housing starts dropped nearly 13 percent last year and are projected to fall 16 percent this year, before leveling off.

Softening U.S. lumber markets are also affecting Canadian producers, Bernhardt said. Canadian exports to the United States are expected to drop below 20 billion board feet this year for the first time in three years.

San Francisco

Sony discontinues 20-gig console

Sony Corp. has discontinued the 20-gigabyte PlayStation 3 game console so it can focus on a more popular – and expensive – model that has a bigger hard drive.

Since the launch of the PlayStation 3 in November, consumers have been buying the 60-gigabyte model 10-to-1 over the cheaper unit, said Dave Karraker, spokesman for Sony Computer Entertainment America Inc.

Both models have much of the same hardware inside, but the 60-gigabyte console, which costs $600, has built-in wireless support and slots for memory sticks and other storage media.

Retailers still have several thousand 20-gigabyte models on store shelves, Karraker said Thursday. The 20-gigabyte consoles will continue to have a suggested retail price of $500 until supplies run out.

“Better to put resources toward the ones that retailers want,” Karraker said.

Severe production shortfalls in the months after the PlayStation 3 debuted meant that thousands of consumers had to wait in long lines and still couldn’t buy a console.

Thoughts and opinions on this story? Click here to comment >>

Get stories like this in a free daily email