Network updates coming
Two companies with local ties are expanding networks for high-speed broadband and data usage.
Agile Networks, a telecommunications services company headquartered in Canton, said a build-out of its statewide data network began in Columbus on Friday. The company said its network combines fiber and 4G wireless for business, residential and government clients. When the build-out is complete in 2014, the network will cover 3 million address points across the state with residential broadband and business class MPLS (Multiprotocol Label Switching) Ethernet, the company said.
Agile said it now covers approximately 900 places, such as libraries, hospitals and government locations, as well as businesses and residences.
Another company, Fibertech Networks, said it would announce on Monday the construction of a new fiber-optic network in Akron. The network expansions will include four other markets across Ohio. It will provide high-speed broadband to businesses.
Fed sponsors contest
The Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland is offering high school juniors and seniors an opportunity to win prizes by explaining how they will pay for items in the year 2020.
For the bank’s 2013 Creative Writing Contest, “Future World: How would you like to pay for that?” students can submit an essay, poem, play, or short story explaining how people will pay for the things they want and need in the year 2020. They are asked to consider questions such as: What does Future World look like to you? Is there cash, or is something else the primary form of payment for goods and services? Have there been major innovations in payment systems? Contestants are being asked to think critically about basic economic principles.
The deadline for submissions is Feb. 28, 2013. The top prize is a $500 cash gift card.
Each qualifying entry will be evaluated on comprehension, organization, conclusions, creativity and clarity. Submission requirements, a prize list, and an entry form can be found on the bank’s website, www.clevelandfed.org under “Learning Center.”
Chrysler pays bonuses
Chrysler Group LLC, the automaker majority owned by Fiat SpA of Italy, will pay the remainder of $3,500-per-worker bonuses that are due to hourly employees early.
Chrysler will make payments of $1,750 each to its roughly 26,200 employees represented by the United Auto Workers on Dec. 21, the company said. The first half of the bonuses was paid after Chrysler and the Detroit-based union agreed to a national contract in October 2011.
Chief Executive Officer Sergio Marchionne is hastening the payments to workers after the automaker last month confirmed its forecast of about $1.5 billion in net income for the full year. Workers otherwise would not have been eligible for the second half of their ratification bonuses until 2013’s first quarter, according to the statement.
“This waiver of the four-quarter requirement is made in recognition of the tremendous contribution you have all made to the performance of our facilities and to the revival of Chrysler,” Marchionne, 60, wrote in a letter to employees.
Marchionne is also CEO of Turin, Italy-based Fiat.
Mattel accused of violations
Mattel Inc., the world’s largest toymaker, flouted labor rules at a factory it owns in China and at three plants used by its suppliers, according to a report by advocacy group China Labor Watch.
The maker of Barbie dolls and Hot Wheels toy cars underpaid and overworked employees at the factories in China, the New York-based labor group said in a news release. Mattel is currently investigating the allegations, said Alan Hilowitz, a spokesman for the El Segundo, Calif.-based company, in an emailed statement.
Investigations allegedly revealed violations of at least 15 sets of labor rules including illegal overtime pay, excessive working hours, forced labor and a lack of safety training at the factories supplying to Mattel, the group said.
The advocacy group said all four manufacturing plants maintained monthly overtime hours two to six times in excess of the 36-hour legal limit, and workers were not required to wear safety equipment despite handling harmful chemicals.
Hilowitz said Mattel takes the welfare of its supply chain staff “very seriously” and conducts regular audits to make sure its factories are complying with business practices in line with global industry standards.
FedEx has rate hike
FedEx Corp. is raising shipping rates for ground and home delivery services in January by an average of 4.9 percent. The shipping company said new rates will take effect on Jan. 7.
Compiled from staff and wire reports.