Small Business News Briefs

Covad Offers New Small Businesses Services
Covad Communications introduced new broadband services for small business this week, including Web hosting packages with prices starting at less than $20 per month and support for Macintosh systems. Covad has also upped its speeds and lowered its prices on select broadband services services.

Covad’s new hosting services include e-mail, Web-based e-mail, Web site building tools and Web reports. All hosting service plans and access services also include free anti-virus and spam protection, along with around-the-clock customer service support.

Covad hosting services consist of four options, an e-mail only plan for $9.95 a month and three Web hosting programs. The hosting services are designed to offer small businesses a variety of ways to register a domain name, set-up e-mail and build a Web site. Web hosting plans range from $19.95 a month to $79.95 a month when bundled with access services.

Covad has also revised select business broadband service plans to increase throughput speeds and lower prices. On its TeleSoho 3.0 plan, small businesses can tap into delivery speeds up to 3.0 megabits per second (Mbps) on the download and 384 kilobits per second (Kbps) on the upload — twice as fast as the current TeleSoho 1.5 Mbps offering. The service is ideal for small businesses that need more bandwidth for multiple users sharing the same network connection. Pricing for TeleSoho 3.0 starts at $149.95 a month and TeleSoho 1.5 starts at $69.95.

In related news, Covad has expanded its customer support services to Macintosh users. Self-install startup kids now include Mac-compatible installation software on all Covad service plans. Different iterations of Macintosh operating systems — including 8.0, 9.0 and Mac OS X — are supported.

Patrick Bennett, executive vice president and general manager of Covad Broadband Solutions, said with these enhancements, Mac users can easily get their system connected to Covad’s national broadband network.

“Not only do we supply an in-the-box solution for access, but we have Mac experts to call for customer support around the clock,” Bennett added.

Mac-users are elated with the offering. Pat Hurley, a broadband analyst with TeleChoice, applauded Covad’s move to support Macintosh systems.

“As a home Mac user myself, I am pleased to see that Covad has made its broadband service selection process for Mac users easier and affordable,” Hurley said. “Covad continues to remain focused on the customer experience and providing solutions for its customer’s broadband needs.”

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Ceridian Extends HR Management Solutions To Small Business
Ceridian, a leading solutions provider of human resources and employee effectiveness services, is offering a small businesses service lineup that includes human resource, payroll, benefits and compliance packages.

Ceridian’s new packaged services are available in either a streamlined version or a more robust package, which features self-service for employees, managers and administrators.

Pat Goepel, chief revenue officer at Ceridian’s U.S. human resources solutions business, said Ceridian is familiar with the challenges small business owners face.

“They simply don’t have the time or staff to maintain critical HR functions in-house,” Goepel said. “We can free them to focus on their core business.”

Ceridian’s small business services are Web-based to provide an integrated human resource administration and payroll processing solution. Services include:

  • Real-time access to human resource data;
  • Compliance expertise for navigating the complexities of today’s HR and payroll regulations; and
  • Rapid activation managed by a single Ceridian consultant.

Fees for services are based upon a variety of items including the number of employees, payroll frequency, and the types of services provided.
The basic service includes Payroll Processing, Tax Filing, Direct Deposit, Check Signing and Sealing, and a three month HR compliance newsletter for as little as $60 per month plus delivery. Set-up fees start at $300 and vary depending on the service set bundle selected by the customer.

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IBM Recalls 56,000 Computer Monitors
The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) said IBM is voluntarily recalling 56,000 computer monitors for repair.

The problem is that the monitor’s circuit board can overheat and smoke, posing a fire hazard to consumers, the commission said. IBM said it received five reports of monitors overheating and smoking, including one report of minor property damage, but that no injuries were reported.

The commission said the recalled IBM monitors include the G51 CRT (Cathode Ray Tube) and G51t Touch Screen CRT models.

In addition, it said the G51 and G51t monitors have the following model numbers on a label on the back of the unit: 6541-02N; 6541-02E; 6541-02S; 6541-Q0N; 6541-Q0E; 6541-Q0S.

The alert said the label on the back of the recalled G51 models also has a date of manufacture between June 1997 and September 1997. The “IBM” logo can be found on the front of the units, which were manufactured in China and Malaysia.

The monitors were sold through IBM, MicroTouch Systems, and consumer electronics stores such as Best Buy, CompUSA, Office Max, and Radio Shack. They were sold between June 1997 through December 1998 for about $370. Under the recall program, customers with these monitors will be sent a prepaid shipping box to return the monitor to the repair facility. IBMs repair service will inspect the monitor to determine whether it requires a safety repair. If necessary, the component that could overheat will be repaired or replaced, and the monitor returned to the customer. This program is offered only for monitors that are still in working order. No other repairs will be performed under this program.

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Small Business Computing Staff
Small Business Computing Staff
Small Business Computing addresses the technology needs of small businesses, which are defined as businesses with fewer than 500 employees and/or less than $7 million in annual sales.

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