FryUp: The Cabinet Edition

ICT-NZ handicapped by a lack of clear benefits to its membership; and Telecom elegantly side-steps local loop unbundling by making phone exchanges obsolete

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— The Cabinet Edition

— Bob Catley warms up

I'm really sorry about this.

— Live from Z Rock 2006

A blundering Cabinet

Enough said: "The authors of the paper acknowledge that ICT-NZ has been handicapped, as establishment body head Garth Biggs has said, by a lack of clear benefits to its membership".

— Cabinet paper blunder exposes ICT-NZ failure

Cabinet plays into the hands of Doktor Reynoldari

A round of applause for Telecom, please. Not only has it managed to stick it to the competition, but it has also elegantly side-stepped local loop unbundling by making phone exchanges obsolete.

How did it do this? Through deft orchestrating and clandestine manoeuvres in the dark? No, not at all. Instead, it did the hard work with the regulator and government, and announced its plans to all and sundry, including competitors, years ago.

It's excellent work really: I'm told that the first exchange to be decommissioned in favour of cabinetisation is the Ponsonby one in Auckland, in two years' time. That's the very exchange in which the heads of Vodafone/ihug and Orcon/Kordia were grinning from ear to ear together with Telecom a few months ago, at the launch of local loop unbundling.

Now however, neither provider is smiling at the prospect of having half a million dollars worth of gear stranded at the Ponsonby exchange, especially since they've yet to put any customers on it.

The move to decommission exchanges is particularly serious for providers that don't have high speed and capacity last mile networks of their own. Yes, that means Vodafone/ihug and Orcon/Kordia. What's the bet that even though they knew about the cabinetisation plans, the last thing they expected was for the inner-city exchanges that are close to customers would be decommissioned first?

TelstraClear on the other hand seems quite happy with the cabinetisation, calling it "certainty". One ISP with a network of its own that I spoke to says Telecom's done a great job with the cabinets: they have been deployed well away from the provider's fibre backbone network, making it unviable to put gear into the roadside boxes.

It would be instructive to see a map of Telecom's roadside cabinet deployments, and compare it to a map of TelstraClear's fibre network. Perhaps there will be some notable synergies between the two that say, Kordia's network lacks?

If you look at the history of telco regulation (or the lack thereof), a big fat streak of cluelessness becomes apparent. Both Labour and National struggle with technology; while present comms minister David Cunliffe's efforts are the best of the bunch, the measures he has put in take too long to be effective in a complex, fast-moving environment like telecommunications.

— The Cabinet of David Cunliffe

— Telecom is walking the walk

— Telecom to offer 15Mbit/s over copper — rollout begins this year

— TUANZ blog

— Rod Drury: It's all on again

— Stuff: Rivals slate Telecom's plans

— Telecom makes mockery of LLU



Robert X. Cringely

Gobble, gobble: Biggest Turkeys of 2007

In honour of the coming holiday (and before we all lapse into a tryptophan induced coma) I'd like to honour the tech industry's turkeys: the individuals and organisations who truly need to go get stuffed. Like the holiday bird, they invariably come with side dishes — partners in malfeasance and stupidity who share equally in the dishonour. So today I'm introducing a new Cringely award: The Gobblers. Here are the winners for 2007: Prince and Web Sheriff. It's one thing for faceless corporations to don the curly mustache and play Snidely Whiplash. But when a beloved pop icon does it, that's the mark of a true turkey. Yet Prince sicc'd Web Sheriff on his fan sites — the people who stuck with him through his whole ridiculous “Artist formerly known as” phase — ordering them to take down photos of His Purpleness or face the wrath of a copyright suit. It seems Prince's handlers may have realized this, as they are now negotiating with the sites in question. Good thing: somebody needs to put a leash on this guy. Comcast and Cox. For months, Comcast has blocking Bit Torrent connections without telling any of its customers. Its response — a flat denial, followed by a weasly explanation (the traffic was merely “delayed”) was even worse. Now it seems Cox Cable has been doing the same thing to eDonkey traffic, though it calls the practice “traffic prioritisation and protocol filtering”. So much for “unlimited internet access.” Hey it's their network, they can do what they want. But if you're selling a moped, don't call it a Harley. Star Simpson and the City of Boston. When Star Simpson walked into Boston's Logan airport wearing a LED-festooned breadboard around her neck, she established a new baseline for college-level cluelessness. But the reaction of Boston authorities — to detain her at gunpoint and act like she was the second coming of Osama Bin Laden — doesn't qualify them for any advanced degrees. Simpson's attorney is petitioning to get the charges dropped; prosecutors have vowed to pursue their “infernal machine” prosecution. Trial date is set for December 3. Expect more schoolyard behaviour before this saga ends. TJX Company and Visa. For years, TJX played wi-fi roulette with customers' credit card numbers, until hackers camped out in the parking lot outside one its TJ Maxx stores stole 95 million of them. Now it turns out Visa knew how lame TJX's security was back in 2005 and gave them a free pass on fixing it until Jan 1, 2009. I think a new slogan is in order: "TJX and VISA: Our IQs are as low as our prices." Jammie Thomas and the Jury. As the first file swapper to take the RIAA to trial (and lose), Jammie Thomas established several unfortunate precedents. The “a stranger parked outside my house and used my wi-fi connection to download files but somehow managed to guess my exact user name” defence is certainly one of them. But the jury's decision to award damages of nearly US$10,000 per song was equally brain dead. The Free Software Foundation has established a fund to pay for expert witnesses in future RIAA trials. So at least one person in the courtroom will know what they're talking about. Don Kerr and the telecoms. It's still not entirely clear what the country's number two spook was trying to say when he equated Net surfers with the Lone Ranger and Tonto, but Donald Kerr's overall message was clear enough: Your data is our data. The nation's biggest telecom carriers were more than happy to bend over backwards to accommodate NSA spying, no warrants necessary. Here's a good stiff kick in the giblets to them all. Yet despite all this I do have things to be thankful for. One is an industry that moves so quickly I can't even keep up, let alone write about it. The other thing I'm thankful for is you, the Cringe faithful, whose emails and comments have livened up this blog considerably since it launched last spring. A heartfelt thanks to you all. Now please pass the potatoes.

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