Well done Telecom, says 2degrees tech

Telecom's efforts to install filters, without resort to court, draw a rival's praise

Telecom has kept its commitment to install filters to protect 2degrees’ mobile network service, according to 2degrees chief technical officer Mike Goss.

In fact, the incumbent is ahead of schedule, has been “extremely supportive” and done an “outstanding job”, Goss says.

This rare note of respect, belying the more common fractious and even bitter statements coming from telco executive suites, is a product of what Goss calls the very good working relationship that exists between operators at the engineering level.

Vodafone took Telecom to court this month seeking an injunction to stop the company launching its new XT-branded WCDMA network until interference issues were sorted out. Telecom delayed its planned launch in a settlement before judgment in that case was made.

2degrees, better known as NZ Communications, chose to negotiate an engineering solution to similar problems.

Goss says he expects people to be surprised at how solid 2degrees network is and by the fact that it will offer 97% coverage from day one, via a roaming agreement with Vodafone.

Phase one of the rollout should be completed by October, covering the three major cities of Auckland Wellington and Christchurch. Phase two will then kick in with second-tier cities receiving service over an 18-month period, he says.

The primary challenge of the rollout has been dealing with the Resource Management Act (RMA), but despite that, the system is still quicker than when he was involved in the rollout Vodafone’s network, as Bell South, in the early 1990s. He says back then approvals for cell tower sites took up to nine months, whereas now they can be completed in four to six.

The delivery of National Environmental Standards has helped, he says, but on top of the RMA process, leases or sub-leases still have to be negotiated with the property owners on which antenna will be situated.

Goss says there has been a community backlash against councils, with ratepayers opposing the construction of so many towers. Councils are not trying to be difficult, he says, but trying to be responsive to their constituents and 2degrees is working closely with them to help.

Goss says he is working with many councils who each have a slightly different interpretation of the Act.

2degrees’ major technology provider in the rollout is Huawei. The network, he says, will be technologically equivalent to Vodafone and Telecom’s new XT network. A number of engineering partners have been involved, including Infratil, Transfield and Skycomms.

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