PRtai Drive

Broadband is Hot Stuff this year still, with providers frenetically scuttling around trying to win more customers. It was with considerably amusement mixed with bemusement that I read the saga about Jenny Gibbs over at Paratai Drive who couldn't get "broadband" (=Telecom DSL) despite having lent her Piha house to the telco for a toenail-decorating TVC and being hugely rich in general. Two years' wait for Gibbs, but no broadband. Clearly, it's not just the wop-wops that Telecom has cut investment in - how very egalitarian.

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It ain’t ‘alf bot ‘ere

- PRtai Drive

- Telstra talks telco turkey

- Botnets inside the Gates

PRtai Drive

Broadband is Hot Stuff this year still, with providers frenetically scuttling around trying to win more customers. It was with considerably amusement mixed with bemusement that I read the saga about Jenny Gibbs over at Paratai Drive who couldn’t get “broadband” (=Telecom DSL) despite having lent her Piha house to the telco for a toenail-decorating TVC and being hugely rich in general. Two years’ wait for Gibbs, but no broadband. Clearly, it’s not just the wop-wops that Telecom has cut investment in – how very egalitarian.

Telecom had fobbed off Gibbs with the “exchange full” excuse, which didn’t impress her. As she put it:

"When I see the amount of money they are spending on advertising without putting it into infrastructure I do think it is a bit outrageous."

Smelling a great PR opportunity as soon as the story hit the Herald, Vodafone, Compass and Woosh all rushed over to Paratai Drive in their trucks checking signal strengths in a mad lolly-scramble; Orcon even got so excited it concocted some mysterious satellite over Skype phone solution for Gibbs.

Red-faced over the bad publicity, Telecom sorted out additional capacity in the exchange so that Gibbs can now get broadband. It only took a day as well. Too bad for the wireless guys though, who got no sale out of their efforts.

That’s good work, Telecom: how about more of the same for everyone else waiting for DSL and/or additional capacity in their exchanges?

On a public relations and broadband-related note, FryUp received a release from Telecom about three “funds” or bursaries worth $20,000 to pay for students’ education. That sounded good at first but on closer reading it seems a cynical marketing ploy more than anything.

Thing is, in order to get the funds, you have to sign up for Telecom Xtra broadband. Assuming an average of $40 a month per new broadband customer on the usual annual contract, it would only take 125 to make up for the $60,000 paid out to three students – and the cost of the funds can be offset as a business expense anyway.

Maybe it’ll take more than 125 new customers to cover the sixty grand, but wouldn’t there have been greater value for everyone – Telecom included if the funds had been offered without strings attached? Why didn’t Telecom introduce a blanket discount for student broadband instead, seeing that it’s making such a lot of noise about how the Internet helps pupils?

- Rivals move after millionaire can't get Telecom broadband

- Telecom finally organises broadband for multimillionaire

Telstra talks telco turkey

While we wait for the slow wheels of bureaucracy to finish grinding out the new telco regulation, the Australians have been busy breaking up the incumbent’s monopoly for some years already. It’s not been an easy process, and in the latest developments, Telstra threw a major conniption over the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission’s decision on the price of line-sharing. In fact, Telstra was so enraged it is taking the ACCC to the High Court over it.

Certain aspects of this are of great interest to New Zealand, says Wellington lawyer Michael Wigley, whose firm advises ISPANZ providers on regulatory issues. Across the Tasman, the ACCC issued an interim determination in October last year that set the per-month charge for LLU at $7.20 for CBD areas, $17.70 for metro, and $34.20 for regional access, all in Australian dollars.

Standard wholesale line rental including voice goes for A$23.12 per month for residential customers, and $A25.82 for business ones. The decision that has Telstra apoplectic however is for the so-called Line Sharing Service or LSS: the ACCC set the charge for that at A$3.20 a month.

Line-sharing is, according to Wigley, when a provider gets access to only the higher frequencies on the phone line. DSL uses high-frequency bands for data transmission, so the lower voice range would be left with Telstra, which was hoping to get at least A$9 for LSS. Telstra wants more money for LSS because it says it needs to recover the cost of the line – however, the ACCC rejected this as “double-dipping” because the customer already pays for the phone line.

In going ballistic and to the High Court over the ACCC’s decision, Telstra now says the A$3.20 charge means there will be no investment in the telco sector in Australia, because all the providers will go with LSS instead of building networks.

Whether or not Telstra’s prediction comes through or is just sour grapes because it isn’t allowed to milk its local loop dry remains to be seen, but Wigley draws a parallel between LSS and the nearest thing New Zealand has to it, namely Regulated Unbundled Bitstream Service (RUBS) with the voice component and 128kbit/s upstream choke.

Since the price for RUBS is worked out on a “retail minus” basis, providers pay Telecom $28 a month for it. In Australia on the other hand, LSS pricing is cost-based and thus, providers pay A$3.20 a month. There isn’t actually that much difference between LSS and RUBS in terms of what the monthly charge buys, but because the “retail minus” principle is in effect in New Zealand, Telecom has every incentive to keep broadband prices as high as possible.

- AustralianIT: Telstra to weigh ACCC powers

- ACCC: Interim determinations and reasons in two Line Sharing Service telecommunications arbitrations

Botnets inside the Gates

So... you let the Windows security situation deteriorate to the stage that around 250,000 new computers are compromised each day, and turned into zombies doing their criminal botmaster’s spammy and viral bidding.

Perhaps I’m being too harsh here, but the Botnet Summit this week should be seen as Microsoft admitting it has failed. None of the measures so far have made a dent in the Zombie Armies of compromised Windows boxes vomiting forth spam and scams.

The botnet this week sounds like it’ll be a hand-wringing fest featuring much statistical evidence that the situation is really bad. Well, we know that it is. In fact, we’ve known that for years now. How about sorting it out instead?

- Microsoft holds botnet summit

- Zombies and botnets: Help keep your computer under your control

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