- Broadband deja vu
- Free speech bites both butts
Broadband déjà vu
It's lipstick on pig time again, with the launch of "naked Basic Unbundled Bitstream Access" or... nBUBA? Who on earth thinks of these names? Nobody knows how much Telecom will charge for nBUBA wholesale, but as it's looking at losing voice revenue, a far bigger component of its earnings than broadband, there's zero incentive for the incumbent to be generous.
Some providers like Orcon have already announced nBUBA in September, but they have no idea how much it'll cost them. It must be nice for the providers to build products and services around such "commercial certainty", courtesy of Telecom New Zealand.
Besides the lack of PSTN voice, what's the difference between nBUBA and Commercial Unbundled Bitstream (CUBS) or the regulated variant (RUBS)? Well, there is... no difference. It's the same old DSL that should've been supplanted by ADSL2+ two years ago and with residential fibre optic starting to appear this or next year. Even Cyprus is moving to fibre, for goodness sakes... why isn't New Zealand?
Speaking of Regulated UBS, Callplus and Ihug got their quarterly slap in the face by the Commerce Commission for being stupid enough to apply for such a service. The regulated service is now $1.20 a month cheaper, a massive reduction that no doubt has both providers dancing with joy. No, not really.
It's hard to describe just how well Telecom has managed the regulatory environment in New Zealand. Ernie Newman of TUANZ doesn't mince words here when it comes to that completely absurd subsidy to Telecom, the Telecommunications Service Obligation, or TSO: it is indeed grossly unjust, especially considering Telecom's not doing much to boost rural telco services. The cost of the TSO to other telcos is $66,501, a day, according to Ernie.
That monopoly money has to come from somewhere, and it's you and me paying through our noses for substandard services.
Free speech bites both butts
There is a Samizdat atmosphere on the internet that gives people the feeling of unstoppable freedom to say and express whatever they like. This is correct. Anyone can publish anything, and potentially reach large audiences. What's more, once items are published on the internet, they don't usually go away as they spread throughout the network in various ways.
However, that freedom doesn't come with immunity from prosecution (or in some countries, persecution). It looks like Vince Siemer found this out the hard way yesterday, as he was arrested at Auckland Airport and taken to the High Court.
Siemer's been arrested for making defamatory comments about high court judges on two websites, and is looking at a jail sentence for this. Interestingly enough, Siemer made some effort to hide his tracks: the registration data for one of the sites is "anonymised" in that it only refers to the registrar, Domains By Proxy in Scottsdale, Arizona.
The New Zealand site doesn't have Siemer as the registrant either, but a company. However, the .com variant of the NZ site does, and as the sites seem to be hosted in the country, it looks like not much sleuthing was needed to track him down if he wasn't known already.
Even if Siemer gets a jail term and the court orders the sites to be taken down, it's probably too late: the defamatory material is very likely to remain in some nook or cranny of the internet, for goodness knows how long. The law has no weapon against this, currently.
Cartoon from www.xkcd.com
Robert X Cringely Up for adoption: Windows Vista Well, it's been six months since the second biggest tech debut of the year, Windows Vista. (OK, five months and 12 days, for those of you who are counting). How's has it gone? The good news: Security companies like Zone Alarm have, finally, shipped Vista compatible versions of their software. Hardware drivers are gradually rolling out. Yet Microsoft still felt compelled to issue talking points that OEMs could use to convince customers not to wait for SP1 before taking the Vista plunge. And corporate customers have been clamoring for easier ways to downgrade from Vista to XP so loudly that Microsoft actually heard them and simplified the process (PDF). Cringester R. M. makes a compelling real-world case about the hassles small businesses must face before moving to Vista: "1. Software Apps: Start your Y2K search-and-destroy efforts again to ensure all of your software is 32-bit compliant at minimum, and Vista compliant on top of it. This means your accounting software, DTP/editing packages, and all of the other 5-years old+ packages you are currently running need (at minimum) LICENSE UPGRADES, and more than likely a good number are too old even for that. For anyone still using DOS-based packages, well, you better hope a savy tech can get them to work in a virtual machine, but be prepared to shell out the bucks either way. I have seen many a small place still using DOS-based ledgers instead of being held hostage to M$ or Intuit every year. 2. Hardware: If you are a good corporate customer and turn over/lease your PCs in 3-year cycles, you will probably have fully compatible systems in about 18 months, give or take the budget cycle. Anyone else in the small business realm can stare into the headlights when they get the quote to replace all those slower, but fast-enough-for-the-job-they-do-now systems. Many places went bargain PC when XP came out, or they had to retire Win 98 - the ones that didn't die after the first year, or get taken out by surges, are money in the bank now at 4 to 5 years later, and many do the job they need to do. But most won't make the bar for Vista. Many two-year-old PCs might not make it. Take these two main arguments, and you have the conclusion made by the techs at my workplace, where we run our back-end systems on Linux and VMWare, the office systems on Windows (and Netware) and support all of these systems in the field, but primarily Windows-based desktop environments: Vista is at least 18 months away for most small to mid-sized businesses to consider upgrading across the board without breaking the bank, or the business." I'm convinced. How about you?