FryUp: Whooshing; Maori; Miss Otis

Top Stories: - Wireless whoosh - Maori TV - Miss Otis Regrets

Top Stories:

- Wireless whoosh

- Maori TV

- Miss Otis Regrets

- Wireless whoosh

That noise you hear is the sound of Woosh being happy over its rollout in Auckland, planning its next step (into Wellington) and getting geared up for Christchurch as well as its Project PROBE contracts.

Whew!

Users will have to wait a tad longer for voice, however, as the technology just isn't doing what it was supposed to. Instead of offering true voice over IP (VoIP) the company that makes the technology that Woosh is using is switching to providing voice over a separate channel - kind of a half-way measure.

This is good in that Woosh will have a voice offering and that will help convince customers to adopt the technology. It's bad, however, in that it means the latency issue is pretty much here to stay, which means of the early adopters who would be expected to love Woosh's new offerings and prices, you can forget the game players. These are the users you typically do want on your service because if they like it they're going to tell lots of other early adopters and it's all on. Of course, later on in your marketing plan you'll want to dump them because they use the service too much (!) but that's another story.

Also, with latency (that lag between you hitting the button and the server at the other end of your connection registering the fact) being an issue you can also kiss the whole real-time application market goodbye. Apparently this is what our brave new telecommunications environment is all about, so Woosh is in good company there. But I for one would welcome video on demand, cheap good quality video conferencing, real time gaming and all the rest.

Woosh also had some interesting numbers to offer up. Of the new broadband connections that are coming online in areas where Woosh competes with Telecom's JetStream, Woosh is estimating it gains around 30-40% of the market. Of course, while Telecom claims to be adding around 2000 new broadband connections a week, Woosh is only now "fast approaching" 5000 customers in Auckland.

Putting aside for a moment questions about what "fast approaching" really means, I would have thought Woosh would have far more customers after eight months in operation. That doesn't seem like an awful lot when you've got around 100 staff to pay for and your product retails for around $55 a month. If we do the sums, that works out to be an income stream of roughly $3.3 million less payroll, less network costs, less lobbying, marketing, advertising, that nice lunch we had with the excellent risotto and the sauvignon blanc. It all adds up you know.

Still, Woosh seemed quite happy with the customer numbers and as it expands into Wellington and Christchurch (and later to Hamilton and Dunedin) that will give more customers one more reason to buy the service: roaming. You can't take JetStream with you when you fly to Wellington or Christchurch for that meeting, but you can with Woosh.

Meanwhile, Woosh isn't the only wireless provider in town and isn't the only one making a name for itself. The OECD has just released a report into rural broadband around the developed world and has come to the startling conclusion that, in fact, rural customers are in high demand. There's often more competition for the rural user than for their urban counterparts and that means pricing and service levels are better in rural areas.

That's certainly the case in New Zealand, I think. In the suburbs I have a choice of JetStream or Woosh (at the moment). If I lived in Wellington's CBD I might be able to get on the CityLink network as well. However, if you look to the regions, you've got the likes of Counties Power's Wired Country in Franklin, BCL in just about every rural location known and several others dotted around the country. Prices are better and service levels can be higher. For the cash I shell out each month for JetStream I could get all my telco needs met by Wired Country with a faster connection with greater traffic limits and, hopefully not too far away, a full voice service that includes a virtual PBX for my home.

Yet another reason to move to the beach I think.

The development of access in rural and remote areas - OECD

OECD says rural broadband can be better than urban - Computerworld Online

Woosh claims 5000 users, answers criticism - NZ Herald

- Maori TV

How ridiculous. I mean, really.

Maori Television, right. The new channel. I'm all for it - I grew up in Wales and let me tell you, when it comes to language and culture, separatism can work. The Welsh language is stronger now than it ever was, thanks to the schools and to a Welsh-language TV channel.

So bring it on. I like the idea of Mitre 10 Marae DIY. It makes me smile just to think about it.

But then there's the website. Maori Television Services decided (for some reason) that the domain name for them should be a .com. Fair enough, you might think, but what about the world's only ethnically-based second level domain (2LD), .maori.nz?

I'm hardly alone in wondering this. Steven Heath, formerly an InternetNZ councillor who facilitated the 2LD decision-making process when .maori.nz was introduced, also wondered and since he was watching the hikoi march through Wellington at the time, he decided to register tv.maori.nz and donate it to the service. Nice one.

However, the service communications manager tells me that Steven has no right to the name at all and should he, or anyone else, try to sell a domain name like tv.maori.nz to the service, they're in breach of the act of parliament which brought about the Maori TV channel in the first place.

It's there for all to see - the special protection for the name Maori Television Service. That's right, enshrined in the law is a section devoted entirely to the name. No one is allowed to trade using a name that could be considered to be misleadingly similar to that of Maori Television Services.

Why should this particular piece of legislation include such a clause? We already have laws about such things: it's illegal to pass your business off as someone else's, we have trade mark and copyright laws to govern ownership of names and we have a history of domain name ownership that says thou shalt not breach the law when buying a name.

And what if someone, say a person of Maori descent, decides to set up a website devoted to television and calls it Maori Television? Isn't that acceptable?

Of course, tv.maori.nz isn't the only potential stumbling block for the service. There's maoritv.co.nz and maoritv.com, both of which are already registered and (entertainingly) registered before the bill was passed into law late last year. Is the law retroactive?

And what about the .tv domain? Surely if someone were to register maori.tv they'd be in breach of the law? Well, someone has. And guess what - if they set up a site and go about their business there's nothing the Maori Television Service can do about it because it's not a New Zealand domain name. The same with the .com - if that person of Maori descent happens to live in New York or London or Rome they're beyond the reach of this act.

It's a silly idea, I don't know who introduced it and it's impractical to put it mildly. It's also churlish to suggest someone who's trying to do the right thing need not bother because they'll be forced to do it anyway.

Maori Television

Not Maori Television

Maori TV names protected by unusual legislation - Computerworld Online

- Miss Otis Regrets

Actually I can't dance at all. Two left feet at the very least.

Instead it's time to call it a day. After seven years with Computerworld I'm off to new pastures - well, the Harold. Dammit, the Herald. That's right, I'm going over to mainstream.

I've always enjoyed writing for a specialist audience - it's nice not to have to worry about whether you've ever heard of TCP/IP or how to explain IPv6 to someone who's never used a network before. Let's not talk about the local "phone" loop any time soon though, OK?

But seven years is probably long enough in any one place and so it is that I'm away to the biggest circulation paper in the land to write about, well, the same stuff really. IT and telecommunications for the business section. I start at the end of the month so you're stuck with me for a handful of FryUps yet.

But what of the aforementioned calorific, cholesterol-inducing rant? Will it continue? Will someone else write it or will we take it out to the hill behind the house and dig a wee hole for it? Short answer is: I don't know. As soon as I do I'll let you know.

Instead let me tell you how it all started. Publisher Martin Taylor called Russell Brown and myself in for a meeting and said "I want us to do some email newsletters. They're all the rage overseas". It was agreed that Russell would do the daily news one and I would write up the weekly one, which was going to be less automated and need slightly more copy writing. We'd take it in turns with the other Computerworld staff once it was up and running and we knew what we were about.

So away we went. I wrote up a brief precis of three of the top stories from the week as a trial run and sent it off to Martin Taylor. Not strong enough, he wrote back. Have another go. So I did - I toughened it up but still wrote it as news rather than opinion. Nope, he said. Give it more oomph.

Righto, so I wrote another and another and finally Martin got on the phone. "Listen," he said, "No bugger's going to read the damned thing. Write what you want to write." And so the FryUp was born. No other Computerworld bugger bothered to write anything for it, except when I was away (thanks Andrea) and apart from a few readers who assumed Russell was writing it (if there's anything you ever read that was libellous, it was Russell's work) it's been all me, all the time. I was quite happy hiding behind the FryUp title but discovered a banner ad had outed me when I wasn't looking. Ah well. Russell came up with the title - we stole it off an earlier column of his - and the rest, as they say, is history.

So it's been a great end-of-week stress-release debrief written with an audience of one in mind yet oddly has a following in the thousands despite disappearing from the website for several months (it's still there, you just can't find it).

The first FryUp is recorded below. It's a wan, pathetic, whimpering beast that does little more than widdle on your foot. It's just a pup really, not like today's bloated warthog filling your inbox with its shambling noises and bodily odours. It seems so long ago now but it was only September 2000.

Today is also the last day for Computerworld editor Anthony Doesburg who, after several hundred years at IDG Communications, has slipped his leash and is off like a robber's dog. I can see him now, cavorting in next-door's paddock, scaring the chickens and digging up the flower beds. All the best, editor Anthony. I may need to buy you a drink this afternoon. Possibly two.

The First FryUp (have pity on it) - Computerworld online

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