Wednesday AM August 15th, 2007

Comcast officially launches high-speed Internet and phone service...Lawyer wants exclusion of document suggesting Houston oilman Oscar Wyatt, Jr., provided Iraq with information about when U.S. would invade...Wholesale inflation jumps sharply in July...

Comcast has officially launched its high-speed Internet and phone service. It's actually been a transition over the past few weeks, as Comcast continues its transition from Time-Warner Cable, as Comcast's Ray Purser explains.

"The services are being launched as a result of us transferring all of our customers from the old time-Warner Cable network. Comcast high-speed Internet is bumped up to six megabits per second from five megabits per second. What we think our customers are really going to enjoy is a feature called PowerBoost. And what this does is it uses capacity available in the network when you're downloading very large files, or even uploading very large files, it will increase your speed, giving you a boost anywhere from 12 to 16 extra megabits per second, to be able to download those files very, very rapidly."

Comcast, which began offering its services in the Houston market in June, has also been transitioning e-mail customers over the past few weeks.

"We have moved all of our customers from the Time-Warner Cable network to the Comcast network. E-mail migration and the e-mail tool that is being mailed out to our customers is still happening, and we are doing groups of customers each week so that way we can take care of those customers as questions come up. It's managed much the same as when we moved our customers from one network to the other. We didn't move everybody at the same time. Customers are seeing that their old e-mails that are being sent to Road Runner are now coming to their new e-mail address. Our customers should not be concerned if they have not received the e-mail yet. They'll be getting it soon."

Comcast Digital Voice phone service travels over Comcast's privately-managed network, rather than over the public Internet like other Voice over Internet Protocol offerings.

A lawyer wants a judge to exclude a document that suggests a Texan provided the Iraqi government with information about when the U.S. would invade. Oilman Oscar Wyatt, Jr., of Houston is scheduled to go on trial next month in New York. Wyatt faces charges that he conspired to pay millions of dollars in kickbacks to Saddam Hussein's regime--to win contracts under the United Nations Oil-for-Food program in Iraq. Wyatt, who founded Coastal Corporation, has pleaded not guilty. His lawyers said in court papers that highly prejudicial and irrelevant statements were in a diary kept by an employee of Iraq's state oil marketing organization. The document claims Wyatt persuaded Massachusetts Senator Edward Kennedy to deliver a speech against the war with Iraq.

Inflation at the wholesale level jumped sharply in July. The increase of six-tenths of a percent was far higher than the one-tenth percent increase analysts had been expecting. But excluding volatile food and energy costs, the Labor Department says core wholesale inflation rose by a much more moderate one-tenth percent. That was even better than analysts had expected. The Federal Reserve said at its meeting last week that it saw the possibility that inflation will not moderate as the biggest threat to the economy. Since that meeting, financial markets have been roiled by problems in global credit markets. That has raised expectations among investors that the Fed will move in coming months to cut interest rates, to make sure that widening credit problems don't push the country into a recession.

America's trade deficit dropped to a four-month low in June, as record exports of farm goods and autos offset a jump in crude oil prices. The Commerce department says the trade deficit dropped to $58.1 billion in June. That's a 1.7 percent decrease from May and the lowest imbalance since February. The decline caught analysts by surprise. U.S. exports and imports both set records in June. Exports of goods and services rose by 1.5 percent to $134.5 billion. Imports also set a record, rising by one-half of one percent to $192.7 billion. The amount of foreign crude oil rose to the highest level in nine months. Imports from China hit an all-time high, despite recalls of tainted products.

Despite some quality stumbles by Asian brands, a new survey finds U.S. car buyers are more satisfied with their purchases than ever. According to the University of Michigan's American Customer Satisfaction Index, the consumer satisfaction rate for vehicles rose 1.2 percent this year to a score of 82 out of 100. That's the highest ever in the 12-year history of the survey. Lexus was the top-performing brand, with a score of 87. Next, with scores of 86 were BMW, Buick, Cadillac, and Lincoln and Mercury. Japanese and Korean automakers saw their largest single-year drop in customer satisfaction since 1996. Toyota dropped 4 percent, due to increasing vehicle recalls and poor customer service. The worst performer: Jeep--with a score of 75.

Midwest Air Group's largest shareholder says it's not convinced a sale to a private equity firm is a better deal than the one offered by Airtran Holdings. Pequot Capital Management tells Midwest's board that it's not convinced the $16 cash offer per share from Fort Worth-based TPG Capital is a better deal than Airtran's when other factors are considered. Orlando-based Airtran has offered $15.75 per share. Airtran withdrew its offer Sunday night after Midwest's board voted to pursue a sale to TPG. The Pequot letter filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission says there are a large number of synergies available in a Midwest-Airtran deal which might not be available with TPG. The TPG Investor group includes suburban Minneapolis-based Northwest Airlines. Pequot Managing Director Steve Pigott says TPG and Northwest may not be able to match the growth opportunities and job creation promised by Airtran. TPG and Midwest hope to close their deal by Thursday. Pequot is based in Westport, Connecticut.

Denver-based Quiznos Sub is settling a dispute with a Texas franchisee who's been one of the sandwich chain's most vocal critics. Chris Rray of Killeen owns two Quiznos stores. Bray told the Associated Press via e-mail that he's resolved his legal disputes with the company. He declined to elaborate. Attorneys for both sides say Bray is selling his two franchises to pursue other opportunities. Bray and several other franchisees sued Quiznos in December after it sought to terminate their franchise contracts. Quiznos claimed the franchisees posted information on the association's Web site that harmed the company and violated their contracts. The information related to a California franchise owner who was involved in a lawsuit with Quiznos. The franchise owner committed suicide in November. The Web site also had a link to a memorial fund for the man's family.

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