IE7 Beta 2; Telecom hangs up on New Zealand

I had a small chuckle at the Internet Explorer 7 beta 2 browser press release from Microsoft earlier today, which extolled its "dynamic security protection through a robust new architecture" amongst other things.

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- Insecure by Design, Insecure by Default, Insecure in Deployment and Communication?

- Telecom hangs up on New Zealand

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Insecure by Design, Insecure by Default, Insecure in Deployment and Communication?

I had a small chuckle at the Internet Explorer 7 beta 2 browser press release from Microsoft earlier today, which extolled its “dynamic security protection through a robust new architecture” amongst other things.

The release arrived about a week after IE7 was err, released. Curiously enough, it doesn’t mention that a security researcher found a serious bug in the browser only fifteen minutes after it was made available.

Well done, Microsoft: we used to worry about zero-day exploits, but now we have zero-hour ones. What does that tell us about the Security Development Lifecycle programme that Microsoft promises will take care of its “holey” software?

As IE7 Beta 2 is unsupported software and no patch is on the horizon, you’d be wise to stay away from it. I’ve used Beta 1 for a while, which to be fair had one security patch, but unless tabbed browsing for Internet Explorer excites you, there’s no compelling reason to install version 7. Yes, the phishing filter is an interesting concept and I still like the fast page rendering IE has but it doesn’t have the flexibility that FireFox offers with its extensions.

- First bug found for Internet Explorer Beta 2

- A Look Inside the Security Development Lifecycle at Microsoft

Telecom hangs up on New Zealand

Yesterday, Telecom announced its results for the half year to December 31, 2005 and despite making a loss of $466 million it will pay dividends to share holders. Its share price also rose, by 16¢, as investors took to what they consider a safe bet.

Why is a company that loses so much money in one fell swoop still attractive to share investors? Well, the National Business Review does an excellent job of explaining why in this week’s edition. Describing Telecom as the “handbrake” that stalls the nation’s productivity and growth, NBR says the evidence is overwhelming that the monopoly telco is holding NZ businesses and homes to ransom.

Our reward for providing Telecom and its share holders with large and easy profits over the years is paying through the nose for both voice services and what NBR terms as sub-standard broadband. And, it’s hard not to come to the conclusion that Telecom is supported in this ransom taking by the minister of communications, David Cunliffe.

Cunliffe says he doesn’t know what to do about Telecom, despite much evidence over the years from for instance the OECD that we’re getting ripped off. There’s not much magic to it, minister: have a look at what’s happened overseas. That’s right, telco monopolies everywhere apart from Mexico have been dismantled and as a result, customers receive superior service for less money.

At least National’s Maurice Williamson, a former minister of communications, is more honest when he says that Telecom doesn’t need regulation. He never intended to touch Telecom’s monopoly, or to rein in the market dominance it brings, and doesn’t pretend otherwise. Cunliffe on the other hand talks tough but really, he’s just sitting out his time in the communications portfolio doing as little as possible.

Taking advantage of the inaction and thumbing its corporate nose at Cunliffe, Telecom missed the promised wholesale target by a sizeable 20,000 customers. It didn’t have any problems overshooting the target for its retail customers however. Wholesale ISPs who are already being squeezed by being forced to resell unprofitable UBS say this proves Telecom is favouring itself in the broadband market. Well, of course it does. Thinking anything else is naïve.

Cunliffe promised action against Telecom if the wholesale target was missed but all we’re seeing is further stalling. A six-month informal industry stocktake? Good grief, Telecom must be quaking in its boots over that.

It won’t be until the middle of this year before the stocktaking is finished and only then will the formal wheels be set in motion. Judging from past regulatory efforts, I very much doubt anything will happen until mid 2007 at the earliest.

By that time Europe will be well advanced with the Fibre To The Premises (FTTP) projects that are currently being rolled out in France, Austria and elsewhere to replace DSL. These are not built by the telcos, but by municipal authorities and public utilities. The idea is that the FTTP networks will have open access, in which the operators have no interest, so as to provide a greater range of services and more choice for customers. Note: the Europeans aren’t worried about protection the existing telcos, because they know that the incumbents are dinosaurs without a future

That’s the upper quartile of the OECD pulling away from a NZ that is standing still in broadband. Cunliffe should be embarrassed over his lack of vision and leadership, especially now when even Telecom partners like Microsoft are saying broadband in NZ sucks to the point that they cannot do business here.

- Calls for further regulation after Telecom misses target

- Lag in broadband upsets tech giants

- Broadband sales not enough for Government

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