Mobile moaning, TelstraClear de-Pr-ing, Penguin fanciers

The piece about mobile data charging touched a raw nerve with a number of readers. As with ADSL, many mobile data customers are annoyed by the lack of predictable billing because understandably, they don't want to use their phones and PDAs for data access with one eye on the usage meter.

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- More mobile moaning

- TelstraClear’s de-PR-ing disaster

- Penguin fanciers destined for Dunedin

- More mobile moaning

The piece about mobile data charging touched a raw nerve with a number of readers. As with ADSL, many mobile data customers are annoyed by the lack of predictable billing because understandably, they don’t want to use their phones and PDAs for data access with one eye on the usage meter.

Feedback received says people feel that New Zealand mobile data customers are being gouged by both telcos. Danny Butt drew my attention to Vodafone Australia’s data pricing for instance. For $53.25 plus GST a month, you get unlimited GPRS usage across the Tasman. The nearest Vodafone NZ plan is the 50MB one for $45 plus GST. NZ Vodafone customers can forget about going on GPRS usage romp in Aussie though, because the roaming charge for them is $30/MB.

It is worth bearing in mind that just as with every other aspect of information technology, newer telco gear is smaller yet does much more for less money. That’s one of the premises for Telecom’s all-Internet Protocol Next Generation Network for instance, but are the savings passed on to customers at all? Andrew Joll discovered some interesting information on Qualcomm’s CDMA2000 1XEV-DO site which provides detail as to the economics behind running an EV-DO network which indicate they’re not.

One of the key benefits of EV-DO is that operators can finally hurl data at customers at not just high-speed, but affordable rates as well. How does $19.22 for 268MB a month sound? That’s about 7.2c/MB, but still nets the operator a healthy 35 per cent margin before EBIT. Telecom’s cheapest deal is $199 a month for 500MB, or 39.8c/MB or 5.5 times dearer. Is operating an EV-DO network in NZ really over five times costlier than in the US, or is Telecom enjoying stunningly “healthy margins” on its mobile data business?

- Vodafone Australia mobile data pricing

- Qualcomm CDMA2000 1xEV-DO operator benefits

- TelstraClear’s de-PR-ing disaster

We have covered TelstraClear’s controversial decision to de-peer from the rest of the New Zealand internet since 2003, but still fail to understand why the telco is trying so hard to make its network less attractive for customers. TelstraClear has now dropped the sessions to the route servers at the Wellington Internet Exchange (WIX) and is expected to do so at the Auckland exchange as well, thus completing the de-peering nationwide.

Predictably enough, changing the known state of the network did cause some tears in the NZ Internet fabric. TradeMe customers connecting via TelstraClear’s network are deeply unhappy that without warning, their traffic now appears to go via international links before returning to these shores. This is slow, inefficient and expensive. It seems pointless too, because if the peering sessions were still going, then the traffic would go via faster and cheaper local links.

However, that seems anathema to TelstraClear which insists that doing so means “a free internet”. The logic of that argument is that when TelstraClear was peering, they provided free internet access somehow.

Without peering on the other hand, all is fair because content providers will pay TelstraClear for sending traffic to its network. But TelstraClear users are already paying TelstraClear to receive that traffic. And, TelstraClear does not want to pay other ISPs and/or content providers for traffic its users are sending to their networks either.

It doesn’t take a genius to work out that a) nobody puts any stock in TelstraClear’s reasoning for de-peering and b) it’s a bad idea to annoy customers like this, especially if you’re fighting to avoid being sold off when the Australian mothership is privatised as some analysts expect and need to put on more business, not less.

There is no way TelstraClear can feign ignorance of peering being good and de-peering meaning you’re making a right nuisance of yourself. Just look at the US “Peering Wars” in the nineties and all the stories we’ve written about the subject (see link-o-rama below). Now the issue is plastered all over the mainstream press as well, but TelstraClear is still running around at Smales Farm HQ with its corporate ears covered shouting “NYANYANYANYANAAAA WE CAN’T HEAR YOU!!!”

- TelstraClear starts de-peering this week (Nov 04)

- TelstraClear-ICONZ deal DIS-cord (July 04)

- TelstraClear okays de-peering policy (July 04)

- TelstraClear defends peering policy (May 04)

- Peering problems persist (Nov 03)

- Paradise users won’t be stung for international traffic in peering dispute (Nov 03)

- No plans to charge for peering says TelstraClear (July 03)

- TelstraClear pulls internet plug

- Penguin fanciers destined for Dunedin

Southern Open Sorcerers have reason to celebrate because Dunedin will host the 2006 linux.conf.au conference. It’s a big event for the Penguinistas so the local boys will have to start working hard on beating the visual shocker of “Linux” Torvalds in nothing but speedos during the 04 conference. Good luck…

- Linux luminaries bound for Dunedin

- linux.conf.au

- Linus getting dunked at LCA 2004 (couldn’t find any videos, sorry)

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