Business Briefs: Tennessee-American warns of scam artists

Business Briefs: Tennessee-American warns of scam artists

July 9th, 2018 by Dave Flessner in Business Around the Region

Comcast boosts speed on its Xfinity Blast!

Comcast announced today that it is increasing download speeds of its most popular Internet services in Chattanooga and other markets at no extra cost to its subscribers.

Beginning in July, download speeds for the company's Xfinity Blast! tier will jump from 100 Mbps to 150 Mbps while Extreme 150 speeds will nearly double from 150 Mbps to 250 Mbps. Today, about 75 percent of Comcast's Internet customers in the Southeast subscribe to one of these two tiers and will see their download speeds upgraded next month.

Comcast download speeds for its most common programs will exceed the basic download speed of EPB's most popular internet links in Chattanooga, although EPB offers up to 10 gigabyte-per-second speed for its premium plans and EPB also maintains a symmetrical loading capacity for both uploading and downloading data from the web from all of its plans. Comcast is keeping its upload speed at 10 Mbps.

"Customer usage patterns show that the vast majority of customers use download speeds over upstream," Comcast spokeswoman Sara Jo Walker said.

Current and new customers of Comcast can subscribe to the Xfinity speed tiers on a stand-alone basis or as part of a package, Walker said.

"Faster speeds help ensure that customers have all the speed necessary to power the growing number of devices they are connecting to and controlling in the home – everything from computers, smartphones, and gaming consoles, to more sophisticated home automation services and smart appliances," said Doug Guthrie, Comcast's senior vice president.

Comcast has increased internet speeds 17 times in the past 17 years.

To get the new speeds, most customers, including all xFi users, will simply need to re-start their modems, which either can be done via the xFi app, through the Xfinity My Account app or manually.

Planners reject cell tower plan

A Chattanooga planning group on Monday refused a request to put a new cell tower off Jennifer Lane in East Brainerd after opponents turned out in numbers against the proposal.

Jeana Lee, who lives in the Hurricane Creek neighborhood, said about 50 people turned out to oppose the project.

"Everyone was against it," she said after a meeting of the Chattanooga-Hamilton County Regional Planning Commission.

Vogue Towers had plans to put up a 150-foot monopole tower that would have had Verizon has its primary tenant but provisions for multiple carriers.

The planning commission staff had recommended approval of the special permit.

TDEC gives award for EPB smart grid

The Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation Monday named EPB its "Pursuit of Excellence Winner" for the utility's dashboard that shows how much energy and water is being consumed by each building every month.

EPB, which began offering the environmental stewardship tool last year, also tracks its own performance of recycling field metals, fiber equipment, and vegetation waste, as well as smart grid efficiency savings and employee transportation methods. Since 2016, EPB has reduced emissions by 3,340 tons through SmartGrid efficiencies, 1,797 tons by recycling field metals, and 2,869 tons of vegetation repurposing by grinding up wood chips and making it available to customers for free.

TDEC recognized EPB and other five other award winners at the Governor's Environmental Stewardship Awards in Franklin.

"These awards highlight what's being done in Tennessee to preserve our natural resources, protect public health and the environment, and enhance our quality of life," Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam said.

Tennessee-American warns of scam artists

Tennessee American Water officials say they are hearing reports of individuals falsely claiming to represent the water utility while soliciting plumbing and water filtration work.

The Chattanooga utility said that Tennessee American employees doing work at homes or businesses will present a photo ID badge and drive work vehicles that prominently display the company's name.

"Tennessee American Water only takes water samples at a private residence under specific circumstances, and in most cases, the customer is aware ahead of time that we will be sampling," said Tennessee American Water supervisor for water quality Kitty Vaughn. "For example, we have pre-determined sampling sites that businesses and residents have agreed to participate in for our regular testing. Sometimes we may sample after a main break but we would identify ourselves with company ID and when possible, most sampling is done at a faucet on the outside of the home."

Customers with any doubts of the legitimacy of a worker at their property and who states they represent Tennessee American Water to take a water sample, should contact Tennessee American Water at 1-866-736-6420.

Gas prices rise to 4-year high

Gas prices in Chattanooga increased another 4.8 cents per gallon in the past week to the highest summertime level in four years, according to GasBuddy's daily survey of 170 stations in Chattanooga.

The average price of regular gas in Chattanooga this week rose to $2.57 per gallon. That's 68 cents per gallon higher than a year ago and the highest July price since 2014 when gas prices in Chattanooga spiked up to $3.31 per gallon.

But Chattanooga gas prices still averaged 28 cents per gallon below the U.S. average of $2.85 per gallon for regular gas, GasBuddy.com said.

Patrick DeHaan, head of petroleum analysis for GasBuddy, said gas prices could head higher, especially if hurricanes disrupt coastal oil deliveries this summer.

"There's little downward pressure on oil prices as we remain in the midst of the summer driving season, and unless we see credible evidence to suggest OPEC or other countries are producing more oil, we will likely continue to see gas prices drift higher," he said.

WGU Tennessee grows in its first five years

WGU Tennessee, the online university launched in 2013 as part of Gov. Bill Haslam's Drive to 55 initiative, has grown to the third-largest private, nonprofit university in the state based on full-time enrollment of 4,100 students.

In its first five years, WGU Tennessee said it has conferred more than 3,000 degrees and helped 115 Tennesseans find jobs in their trained field since its start. Degrees are granted under the accreditation of Western Governors University, which is accredited through the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU).

WGU also said it has formed more than 50 partnerships with companies and institutions across the state, including partnerships with all 13 of Tennessee's community colleges and Tennessee Colleges of Applied Technology (TCATs) and has awarded more than $1.5 million in scholarship funding to Tennesseans.

"What impresses me the most about WGU Tennessee's growth is the demographics of its students, many of whom wouldn't be able to pursue degrees if not for the affordability and flexibility provided by WGU," Gov. Bill Haslam said Monday. "More than 40 percent of its graduates are first-generation college completers, and the average student age is 37 – proof that the university is fulfilling its intended mission and helping us reach our Drive to 55 goal."

The university's innovative approach, known as competency-based learning, is key to its success and popularity – especially among working adults with busy schedules. The school measures competencies rather than time spent in a classroom, allowing students to move at a faster pace.