Courtesy of Contractor’s Connection

Contractor’s Connection owner Jeff Och, left, and sales rep Tanner Och, his son, center, hold their dealership award from Barry Swanger, district sales manager for Altoz.

As a telecommunications company, Comcast Corp. has an extensive reach. Now that reach is lengthening.

In response to the novel coronavirus epidemic, the Philadelphia-based conglomerate has enhanced its Internet Essentials program, which provides service to low-income residents.

Dana Strong, president of Consumer Services for the company, said in a statement: “As our country continues to manage the COVID-19 emergency, we recognize that our company plays an important role in helping our customers stay connected – to their families, their workplaces, their schools, and the latest information about the virus – through the internet.

“We also know that for millions of low-income Americans who don’t have internet service at home, this uncertain time is going to be even more difficult to manage. As schools and businesses close and families are encouraged, or even mandated, to stay home, internet connectivity becomes even more important.”

On Monday, the company initiated two program enhancements it deemed “substantial” to serve low-income residents:

  • Making it easier for those who reside in a Comcast service area to sign up by offering new customers complimentary Internet Essentials service for 60 days, which normally costs $9.95 a month for qualified low-income households;
  • Increasing internet speeds for the Internet Essentials service from 15/2 megabits per second to 25/3 Mbps for new and existing customers.

That will be the service speed from now on, and existing customers will not need to do anything to receive it.

Comcast added that it will send new customers a free, self-installation kit, complete with a cable modem with a Wi-Fi router, and there will be no term contract or credit check and no shipping fee.

To sign up, visit, where there is an option to video chat with customer service agents in American Sign Language. There are phone numbers for English (1-855-846-8376) and Spanish) 1-855-765-6995.

A top dealer

Contractor’s Connection, on Wilmington Avenue in Canton Township, has been recognized as an Altoz Top 10 Dealer for 2019. The honor goes to Altoz dealerships that excel in sales and after-sales service and support.

Jeff Och owns Contractor’s Connection, which serves Altoz, an outdoor power equipment company based in Greenbush, Minn.

Dennis Brazier, the company’s chief executive officer, said: “We know that it takes tremendous effort to be a dealership on top of the sales charts. And a large part of that is how positive the customer’s experience is ¬ before, during and after the sale. To be a Top 10 dealer is to excel in all of these areas.”

Contractor’s Connection is open 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday, and 8 a.m. to noon Saturday.

Boosting avionics

Global companies often are accustomed to the spotlight. Ansys is among them.

The engineering simulation software company, based at Southpointe, announced recently that Physical Optics Corp. is using Ansys SCADE solutions to develop avionics for U.S. military aircraft. This will enable POC to reduce development time and accelerate certification.

“We selected Ansys SCADE for ARINC 661 with the hope of significantly streamlining model-based software development and lowering the risk path to certification,” said Omar Facory, vice president of Mission Systems at POC. “Ansys SCADE 661 is instrumental for driving interoperability and reusability – enabling our team to easily update new functionality for military aircraft as it becomes available.”

Ansys also recently announced a two-year initiative with the U.S. Army and L3Harris Technologies. The three reached a Corporate Research and Development Agreement on integration of software components in support of the FACE Technical Standard – which enables software on embedded military computing systems to be more interoperable, portable and secure.

GACO change

The coronavirus crisis has forced a change with “The Basics of Federal Government Contracting” seminar, sponsored by the The Government Agency Coordination Office-PTAC at California University of Pennsylvania.

The event will now be a webinar on March 31. The seminar had been scheduled for that date from 9 a.m. to 12:15 p.m. at Monroeville Convention Center. It will focus on educating businesses about doing business with the government to competitively meet the needs of federal agencies.

For more information, contact Tyler S. Verin, 412-237-6098 or

Business Writer

Rick Shrum joined the Observer-Reporter as a reporter in 2012, after serving as a section editor, sports reporter and copy editor at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Rick has won eight individual writing awards, including two Golden Quills.

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