FryUp: Hey big spender

John Key makes free with the taxpayer dollar while mysteries remain about 0867

— Hey big spender

— Damn the dial-ups

Hey big spender

Sadly the Shirley Bassey version is not embeddable, here's an idol instead.


Hey big spender

National’s $1.5 billion fibre-to-the-premises election year promise is clear evidence of how important the broadband issue is for Kiwis.

Across the Tasman, the Aussies, who are perhaps less short-changed than us when it comes to keeping up with the overseas Joneses for fast network access, are talking about putting in $11 billion on a fibre network.

No doubt National took a leaf out Labor’s book — oh, the irony — when John Key fired his billion dollar broadband broadside at the Wellington Chamber of Commerce this week.

Our Labour party and Communications Minister David Cunliffe haven’t, however, put any money as such on the table, preferring instead to bag National’s promise in multiple press releases, and asking for a further talk-fest on the issue.

Is Cunliffe stalling before announcing his own billion-dollar initiative? He's always sounded pretty dry on the issue of direct government investment in broadband, so a flip flop of Bill English proportions would be required to change direction now.

Is there even money available for it, or are Cullen’s hands firmly keeping the purse shut here, leaving Labour unable to come up with an answer?

Those are the questions we look forward to seeing answered the next coming weeks.

Cunliffe challenges Key to broadband debate

Techsploder: National to announce telecoms policy next week?

Kiwiblog: National’s $1.5 billion fibre to the home plan

Even Keall: John Key takes a leaf from Kevin Rudd’s broadband book

Damn the dial-ups

Going back to pre-broadband days, the 0867 spectacle is finally over. After almost eight years, the High Court handed Telecom a victory last Friday, saying the incumbent didn’t contravene the Commerce Act by forcing people to use a new phone number prefix (umm, 0867) if they wanted to dial into their ISPs for Internet access.

At the time, this caused a huge amount of consternation. PC World’s columnist Geoff Palmer even took Telecom to the Disputes Tribunal, with much publicity ensuing.

It was quite a drama, the whole saga, with Clear kicking it off by using Telecom’s interconnection charges against the incumbent. At first, ISPs banded together and showed a united front against Telecom, but ihug broke ranks — what happened there?

Likewise, Callplus somehow managed to turn 0867 to its advantage and extract an unknown amount of compensation out of Telecom. This was apparently due to Callplus’ lawyers asking for discovery of Telecom’s 0867-related emails.

If you’re interested in the history of 0867 — and it is fascinating — check out the link to our archives below. We’ve had it covered since 1999.

ComCom goes down on 0867

Tux Love: return to 086

Computerworld story archive on 0867 issue



Robert X Cringely

Save the whales, save XP

The international movement to save endangered operating systems (aka Windows XP) has gained supporters in unlikely quarters. Cringester JC reports: "Just got a call from my Dell rep: Dell will provide XP on business class computers (Latitude and Optiplex) through 2011 at no extra cost. The media kit for Vista will be supplied to those who want it. Vostro gets the same deal at a US$50.00 premium. Note: this carries beyond the release date for Windows 7, allowing a reasonable time to see what that is like." Even The Mad Ballmer is backing off his Use Vista or Die stance. According to The Register, the chair-flingin' CEO had this to say to the Redmond faithful at Microsoft's Most Valuable Professionals event last week in Seattle: "We have a lot of customers that are choosing to stay with Windows XP, and as long as those are both important options, we will be sensitive, and we will listen, and we will hear that.....I got a piece of mail from a customer the other day that talked about not being able to get XP anymore, and we responded: XP is still available. And I know we're going to continue to get feedback from people on how long XP should be available. We've got some opinions on that." It is instructive to remember, however, that when XP arrived at the PC party it was greeted like a turd in the punchbowl. Infoworld's review of XP published on October 26, 2001, had this to say: "Hopeless optimism must be a fundamental part of human nature, because we want to believe that new operating systems truly represent an improvement on their predecessors. It's easy to point to certain features in a new OS as examples of progress, but end-users often find that a new OS performs like molasses compared to the version they were using.....Unfortunately, Microsoft's Windows XP appears to be maintaining that tradition ...Our tests of the multitasking capabilities of Windows XP and Windows 2000 demonstrated that under the same heavy load on identical hardware, Windows 2000 significantly outperformed Windows XP. In the most extreme scenario, our Windows XP system took nearly twice as long to complete a workload as did the Windows 2000 client." The review doesn't touch on XP's brain-dead approach to security, which didn't even start to go away until Service Pack 2 was released in August 2004 — nearly three years after XP debuted. So is all this Visa hand-wringing for nought? Maybe in three years we'll be singing its praises. (Wait, did a pig just fly by my window?) But what's really dull-witted is the sudden longing for Windows 7, as if next time around, Microsoft will somehow finally — finally! — get it right. Hopeless optimism indeed.

UPDATE: I received clarification from Dell regarding an item in Monday's post about buying Latitude and Optiplex systems with XP installed through 2011.  According to a Dell spokeshuman, this is merely part of Microsoft's official downgrade rights programme. You'll still have to pay for Vista Business or Vista Ultimate, but Dell will downgrade your computer to XP before they ship it to you (along with the Vista discs). Dell wouldn't say how long the offer is on the table, only that they would "offer the downgrade rights program for as long as Microsoft supports it."

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Tags broadbandtelecomjohn keyFryUp0867bill english

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