Very fony, Sony

Sony's strategists seem to think bad PR is where it's at, judging by the giant corporation's willingness to annoy and offend everyone.

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- Very fony, Sony

- Econet to build a network. Honest.

- Telco for our academic network

Dearest darling diamonds

I'm sure Evelyn Waugh would've thought this beyond the pale. Someone just had to take the fact that we are carbon-based life forms to an unnecessarily extreme… (thanks Annie for the URL).

- LifeGem Created Diamonds

Very fony, Sony

Sony’s strategists seem to think bad PR is where it’s at, judging by the giant corporation’s willingness to annoy and offend everyone. From that point of view, the rootkit issue where customers who bought music discs (Phillips which created the CD standard says Sony can’t call them Compact Discs anymore) ended up with their computers surreptitiously compromised was a huge success.

The PlayStation Portable is currently being launched in the US and to better the rootkit digital vandalism campaign must’ve been a tough task for the marketing geniuses. It looks like they did it though: curiously similar “graffiti” is appearing on walls in US cities depicting children playing with... PSPs. Isn’t that cool? Isn’t that just what everyone in the inner city wants, more graffiti? No? Dear me, people don’t seem to be getting the marketing message again.

Sony is apparently denying that it had anything to do with the “graffiti” campaign but nobody’s buying it. The denial that is, I don’t know how the PSP sales are going.

- Sony PSP graffiti mars LA walls

- Sony's Fony Graffiti

- PSP street art upsets residents

Econet to build a network. Honest.

Good grief, can this really be? After doing pretty much nothing for the past five years apart from spending $8.4 million, Econet announced that it’ll build a WCDMA 3G network in Auckland. Well, only in the CBD and we understand, just a modest ten cell sites to start with. I’m sure everyone will rush to get an Econet phone so that they can make calls in the middle of Auckland but not anywhere else.

Eventually, Econet says its agreement with telecommunications equipment supplier Huawai will see some 410 cell sites built in four cities according to the Herald. This is only sufficient to cover half the country however, so Econet needs to piggy-back on someone else’s network.

Building nationwide networks is expensive business too. The 410 cell sites are thought to cost some $120 million to build and Econet hasn’t said where that money will come from.

Will Econet succeed where TelstraClear failed? Reports from Kenya, where Econet won a licence to set up and operate a third mobile network in 2004 on the condition that it would be ready in a year’s time, aren’t encouraging. So far, Econet has not built the network in Kenya and the whole thing appears to have ended up as court cases instead.

- Econet to build network in first half of 2006

- NZ Herald: Cellphone deal adds a third choice

- Unstrung: Huawei Meets Vodafone's Needs

- East African Standard: Is time up for Econet?

Telco for our academic network

As expected, a telco was appointed to “run, manage and maintain” the high-speed Advanced Network. The network, which I’m not sure if it’s called ANRE, ARENA or REANNZ as the name seems to change every couple of months, will hook up educational and research institutions here and overseas with one another across a 10 gigabit/s backbone. Over forty (yes, 40) countries have such networks and have had them for many years now. It’s not just big and rich countries either, embarrassingly enough.

New Zealand on the other hand has been talking about building a fast research network for many years – in 2001, Dr Neil James of the University of Otago, warned that we were falling behind other countries where scientists and universities have access to fast networks for sharing information with one another.

I don’t think anyone paid attention to James’ plea for urgency because five years after, there’s still no Advanced Network in place, only lots more talk and mountains of paperwork.

Was it a good idea to appoint a telco to run the Advanced Network, especially one like TelstraClear which decided to de-peer from the rest of the New Zealand internet simply for commercial gains even though it lead to poorer performance for everyone else?

You be the judge, but the man in charge of implementing the Advanced Network, Charles Jarvie of the Ministry of Research, Science and Technology (MORST) earlier this year said in a Herald interview that fundamental infrastructure should be kept in public hands. He drew a comparison with railways, which he said were natural monopolies that should not be in the hands of commercial companies “to hold the country to ransom”.

Well Charles, TelstraClear is commercial company and now it has been chosen to manage some pretty fundamental national infrastructure. How did that happen?

Needless to say, TelstraClear isn’t going to build a network with peering exchanges that could be prevent the country from being held to ransom by commercial companies if need be. Instead, TelstraClear will simply lay fibre between its existing national network and a bunch of POPs (points-of-presence or access points) around the country.

TelstraClear CEO Alan Freeth and REANNZ chairman Dr Jim Watson promise the network will be in service sometime in the second half of next year. We’ll see.

- NZ Herald: All stops out for next-generation internet

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