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600-plus communities seek Google fiber-optic network

WASHINGTON (AP) -- More than 600 communities, including Buffalo, have approached Google Inc. in hopes of landing one of the ultra-fast broadband networks that the company plans to build in a handful of spots around the country.

Last month, Google said it will build experimental fiber-optic networks that will deliver Internet connections of 1 gigabit per second to as many as 500,000 Americans. That would be up to 300 times faster than the broadband services reaching most U.S. homes today.

Friday marked the deadline for governments and citizens to express interest. Google said the response has been "tremendous and creative." The company will announce winners by the end of the year.

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Robinson gets grant

Robinson Home Products, the Cheektowaga household products manufacturer that last year acquired the rights to sell Oneida flatware and dinnerware, has been given a $400,000 grant from the Empire State Development Corp. to buy and install new equipment.

Robinson Home Products has a 30-year deal to make and sell Oneida-brand flatware and dinnerware for all consumer markets in the United States. It plans to add 88 jobs and has already filled about a third of those positions.

Robinson, which ships to big retail names like Walmart and Target, projects annual sales of $150 million, double its sales before the Oneida deal. It is investing $17.8 million in its business and has reopened a warehouse at its Walden Avenue headquarters because of the Oneida activity.

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Bridge owner sues

Ambassador Bridge owner Manuel "Matty" Moroun has sued the governments of Canada and the U.S. seeking to overcome their objections to his intent to build a second privately owned bridge between Detroit and Windsor, Ont.

Moroun's Detroit International Bridge Co. filed suit Monday in U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C., claiming that Canada and the U.S. Federal Highway Administration were interfering with his legal rights to build his second span.

The lawsuit claims that Canadian authorities are trying to take the Ambassador Bridge's toll revenues by building a new bridge project known as the Detroit River International Crossing, which would be built by a consortium of U.S. and Canadian governments downstream from the Ambassador.

Moroun's company is also trying to build a bridge in Buffalo. The Ambassador Niagara Signature Bridge Group, a subsidiary of Detroit International Bridge Co. and Canadian Transit Co., has been seeking permission to build a dual-arched concrete span linking Buffalo's Black Rock neighborhood to the Bridgeburg section of Fort Erie, Ont. The U.S. State Department rejected a request for a presidential permit two years ago. The Canadian government is also opposed.

-- Detroit Free Press

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London papers set Web fee

LONDON (AP) -- The Times and the Sunday Times newspapers will begin charging for Internet access to content in June, offering subscriptions at 1 pound ($1.48) a day or 2 pounds a week, News International announced Friday.

Access to the digital services will be included in the seven-day subscriptions of print customers to the Times and the Sunday Times.

Charging might be risky, "but it's less of a risk than just throwing away our journalism and giving it away for free," James Harding, editor of The Times, said in a BBC radio interview.

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Volvo about to be sold

STOCKHOLM (AP) -- A spokesman for Volvo Cars says that China's Zhejiang Geely Holding Group could sign a binding deal to buy the Swedish automaker from Ford Motor Co. this weekend. Geely and Ford have earlier said that they expect to pen it by the end of March.

Volvo spokesman Per-Ake Froberg said Friday that the deal could be reached Sunday, "but it's not set in stone yet." He declined to comment on the price tag. Analysts have estimated the deal at about $2 billion.

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