Business Digest: Cellular provider revs up for SXSW crowds


SOUTH BY SOUTHWEST

Cellular provider revs up for SXSW crowds

With South by Southwest just around the corner, cellular providers are beefing up their networks to handle all the data hogs bound for downtown Austin.

AT&T said Friday it will have 20 percent more capacity during SXSW 2017 compared to last year.

The Dallas-based telecommunications giant said it will bring four COWs – or Cell On Wheels units – to town. One of those portable antennas will be a “super” COW with 10 times the capacity of a traditional single-beam antenna.

AT&T says it has also expanded the LTE capacity of its distributed antenna system at the Austin Convention Center, which hosts a number of SXSW Interactive events. The distributed antenna system consists of several small antennas throughout the building that help calls and texts get through.

There will also be free AT&T Wi-Fi at several spots in and near downtown, including along East Sixth Street, in the Warehouse District, at Stubb’s BBQ and at Auditorium Shores.

ECONOMY

U.S. services firms expand at fastest pace since 2015

WASHINGTON — U.S. services companies expanded in February at the fastest pace since October 2015.

The Institute for Supply Management, a trade group for purchasing managers, said Friday that its services index rose to 57.6 last month from 56.5 in January. Anything above 50 signals growth.

The services sector has now expanded for 86 straight months.

Production, new orders and hiring grew faster in February.

Sixteen services industries reported growth in February, led by utilities companies and mines. Only real estate and information services reported a contraction in business.

More than 70 percent of American jobs are in private services. Consumer spending on services contributes 47 percent of U.S. gross domestic product — the broadest measure of economic output. Consumers spend more than twice as much on services as they spend on goods.

ECONOMY

Eurozone growth at fastest rate since 2011

LONDON — The 19-country eurozone economy is growing at its fastest rate since 2011, according to a survey released Friday, but few economists expect the European Central Bank to ease up on its stimulus efforts anytime soon given political uncertainties that could derail the recovery.

Financial information company IHS Markit said its purchasing managers’ index — a broad gauge of economic activity — spiked to 56.0 points in February from 54.4 the previous month. Anything above 50 indicates expansion and February’s number was a 70-month high.

The firm said output growth was led by the manufacturing sector, though the services sector was strong, too. The rates of growth accelerated in all four major eurozone economies — Germany, France, Italy and Spain. Ireland, which is emerging from a banking crisis, recorded the strongest growth.

IHS Markit said the survey is pointing to quarterly economic growth of 0.6 percent across the eurozone and big job gains.

AUTOMAKERS

Mercedes recalls 354,000 vehicles; starter part can overheat

DETROIT — Mercedes is recalling about 354,000 cars and SUVs in the U.S. because a starter part can overheat and cause a fire.

The recall covers certain C-Class, E-Class and CLA cars and GLA and GLC SUVs, all from 2015 through 2017.

The German automaker said in government documents released Friday that if for some reason the engine and transmission won’t turn over, a current limiter in the starter motor can overheat from repeated attempts to start the vehicles. That can cause the current limiter to overheat and melt nearby parts.

Mercedes began investigating the problem last June after getting field reports of “thermally damaged” current limiters.

Owners will be notified this month and again when replacement parts are available in July.

Dealers will install a fuse to correct the problem.



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