Telecom responds to 2degrees owner's view of earthquake

Comments at US conference don't reflect reality, Telecom spokesman says

Telecom has responded to an article posted on Computerworld online quoting John Stanton, chairman of Trilogy International Partners, the majority shareholder in 2degrees, speaking at a mobile industry trade show in the US earlier this month.

The statement, from Telecom head of external media Mark Watts, goes: "I read with concern the article written by US-based writer Stephen Lawson titled “Christchurch mobile networks more damaged by quake than Haiti ones: 2degrees owner” published on Friday, 25 March.

"There were many gross inaccuracies in the story, and it is disappointing that your writer did not check the facts before publishing the views of Trilogy’s chairman, John Stanton.

"The article states that the mobile infrastructure in New Zealand was hit more heavily than Haiti because it relied on shared towers and commercial power. This is demonstrably wrong.

"The vast majority of Telecom’s mobile network was operating within hours of the earthquake, and service was available even in the badly damaged CBD.

"Co-location of sites was not an issue. The New Zealand Government does not require mobile operators to co-locate their antennas on shared towers in Christchurch, or anywhere else in New Zealand. While we do co-locate mobile equipment in some places, we do not share towers with the other mobile operators in Christchurch (instead maintaining our own services and towers) and, as a result, Stanton’s claim that when towers went down service from all the mobile carriers was lost, is inaccurate.

"The article goes on to state that when towers failed, service went out quickly if the electrical grid had failed. It also states that service from all three carriers went out for about five days following the quake. Again, both these statements are inaccurate.

"Our mobile sites without mains power operated on a mix of battery and generator back-up power. This back-up power is equipped to last for significant periods of time – up to days in some cases. We also supplemented built-in back up power supplies with generators to maintain service, focusing on critical service for search and rescue.

"Working with the Royal New Zealand Air Force, we were able to transfer an additional 33 generators into the region to boost mobile coverage and capacity. We also deployed additional temporary mobile cell sites to replace towers that were significantly damaged and boost mobile coverage and capacity to support rescue and recovery work in key emergency response areas.

"As a result of these efforts, the mobile networks in Christchurch held up extremely well.

"It sounds like John Stanton has been either badly misinformed or misquoted."

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