And in today's Microsoft news

The outlook for Redmond remains the same as last year: more betas and further delays.

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- And in today’s Microsoft news

- Degrees of separation and tacky teleconferences

A stitch in the web

Yes, it’s true. Everyone blogs these days.

- English Cut: the blog of Thomas Mahon, bespoke Savile Row tailor.

But can it display PWN3D?

If it can, I’m getting one for the H4X0R mobile.

- Driv-e-mocion

And in today’s Microsoft news

The outlook for Redmond remains the same as last year: more betas and further delays.

- Office 2007 delayed

- Internet Explorer 7 beta 3 released

Degrees of separation and tacky teleconferences

Telecom came out this week and said it would do the logical thing to fit in with the new regulation, which is to separate its retail and wholesale businesses from one another. It’s similar to how BT did it in the UK, but not quite.

Telecom’s proposal is watered down compared to what BT did. There will be no separate boards for each business and Theresa Gattung will be the chief exec of both. Not sure how that’ll work, as I can see there would be some difficulties in transplanting Chinese Walls into Theresa and other senior executives.

We’ll see how it goes but it’s clear that the independent monitoring group will need to be just that – finding people who are truly independent of Telecom and its many, many subsidiaries, yet have sufficient industry knowledge to sit on the board will be real challenge.

For the separation to be effective, Telecom’s undertakings have to monitored by the regulator and be backed by sizeable penalties, just like in the UK. There is however no mention of that in Telecom’s proposal, which also lacks a date for when the separation will be put into place.

So, is this just a ploy to sidestep the regulation again? That’s certainly the feeling in the industry and amongst observers. It’s hard not to draw parallels to 2004, when Telecom introduced what it called the Unbundled Bitstream Service without telling anyone that it wasn’t the regulated variant, and forcing providers onto it under the guise that it was the broadband that officialdom had handed down. Two years after that, Telecom’s proposals are just too vague and non-committal to be trusted, and don’t forget, Gattung’s old guard is still in charge.

Still, to show that it means it this time, Telecom has also taken the first step towards industry consultation on the new services that’ll come into existence with a meeting Friday next week. The get-together will establish the industry working groups that Gattung proposed two weeks ago.

We’ll see how it all goes, but it is 2006 and after a decade of every kind of trick in the book, Telecom shouldn’t be surprised at being met with nothing but suspicion for its initiatives.

Telecom was the main topic at a telecommunications conference held in Auckland this week, unsurprisingly enough. It was a curious conference in the sense that media was made to feel distinctly unwelcome. When Computerworld asked for media passes they were only given to us reluctantly. We could only attend 2-3 sessions the first day and even those had to be vetted by the conference attendees. A comical consequence of the conference organisers’ media phobia was that a rival publication was apparently banned from attending the session with Luigi Sorbello of TelstraClear. Sorbello attended the conference, we’re told, hoping to get some media coverage and anyway, the publication in question is usually chummy with vendors, so … curious, really. We weren't alone either, other reporters were treated with the same short shrift, which is entertaining, seeing that the conference organisers tell all the vendors how the event is covered by journalists from all kinds of publications.

Less funny was the conference venue, where the organisers had kindly put the dirty media scoundrels at the back of the room, which is completely the opposite how these things are done usually. Despite being a technology-oriented conference, there was no WiFi access and all the material was print-only, without anything electronic. Funny how little two grand buys you these days.

As our allocated time to listen to the telco great and good ran out and the media peeps were heading off to meet deadlines, a smiling conference organiser approached. We should give the organisers a plug, because we get so much good information and so many good stories as we’re kindly permitted to loiter around the conference. Must do that then. At some point.

Fear and loathing of the media apart, what we were allowed to see was pretty interesting though. BT Openreach’s Gordon Moir gave a very good presentation on how the UK telco giant voluntarily chopped itself into two separate wholesale and retail operations, and that doing so had been a success.

It also educational to hear Telecommunications Commissioner Douglas Webb talk, as it provided an insight perhaps into why the regulatory process is so painfully slow. Webb tore into his speech with all the speed of a sloth on sedatives, and in a sleep-inducing monotone. I was able to stay awake, but a lady from one of the telcos succumbed to Webb’s hypnotic drone and was in Morpheus’ arms within five minutes of the speech commencing.

Webb also seems to think that the regulatory work on his watch has lead to “quality decisions”. His office is clearly an ivory tower isolated from the real world, as that is a view not shared by anyone over the past three years, not since Webb’s infamous backflip on local loop unbundling. It’s amazing he’s still standing after his boss, Helen Clark, pulled the rug from underneath him not so long ago.

A chastened Communications Minister Cunliffe also spoke at the conference, presenting his Telco Act amendment bill. It was quite a contrast to last year, when Cunliffe appeared to have not the faintest clue as to how he should progress with telco industry regulation. The bill itself has passed its first reading, and is on its way to select committees and should be ready to roll end of the year. Ah, the slow grind of the bureaucracy. Unless Telecom decides to pull out all stops, it looks like the government’s 2010 Digital Strategy goals are out of the window, with 2015 a more realistic date. There were a few hints as to that in Cunliffe’s speech, so here’s hoping Gattung and Co were listening.

- Telecom opts for voluntary separation

- Cunliffe sees bright future for New Zealand broadband

- First broadband industry working group meeting next Friday

In Canuckiam

So. Farewell then

Peter Nowak.

You were the technology editor

over at Auntie Hairoiled’s

Business bits.

Steve Wozniak said you

Made it all up

But you made him eat

His MP3’ed words.

Too bad about the

Olympic icehockey though.

Canada really sucked.

Sure you want to go back

There?

Say hello to Mr Moose from

New Zealand.

- Peter Nowak, as viewed through the Herald’s premium content paywall

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