- Unbundling conference
- Mooloo magic
- Good help is hard to find
- Unbundling conference
I've managed to avoid attending the conference or hearing any of the speakers so far. It's been quite restful.
I also managed to avoid starting this newsletter with the word "so", but only just. It's a funny old world.
Douglas Webb, telecommunications commissioner, has been sitting in the big chair all week long listening to the various arguments. Telecom's line of reasoning boils down to this: true competition only occurs between networks rather than on the one network.
The problem with this argument is there's some truth to it. Yes, that's where "true" competition kicks off - fibre versus Wi-fi versus copper versus W-CDMA - but at the moment we don't even have "false" competition. We just don't have any choice at all. Telecom owns the copper loop and only 13,000 homes make use of it for broadband. That's just appalling really. I'd rather see the copper network being used to its full potential, then being upgraded to a fibre network rather than having duplicate infrastructure forced upon us while the copper network, already in the ground and capable of offering broadband, sits idly by.
The real reason for Telecom suggesting this is because any new network will cost a fortune and take ages to build. That gives the incumbent a few precious months more to maintain its slippery grip on the nation's broadband.
Sure, there are competing technologies emerging. Woosh is building a network, as is Wired Country. Other regional developments are beginning to sprout up but they're already behind because Telecom already has a network in place. Telecom has a network that covers most of the country, and with its agreement with BCL it can reach those that are even beyond its copper loop.
Before we start building multiple networks and spending several fortunes on infrastructure, why don't we make a more efficient use of the one we've got? Getting people to use broadband in the first place is our challenge today. Once users are engaged and find out just what they can do with the service, they'll demand more. That's the time to wade in with higher speeds and different offerings.
Some companies are eager to start now of course, and far be it from me to stand in their way. BCL, Woosh and Wired Country are the three big names, although there are others. This kind of competition is also good to see, but shouldn't exclude competition on the copper loop. BCL and Woosh are crying foul to the commissioner, claiming their business plans are in jeopardy if unbundling goes ahead. I have to say this is rubbish. If their business cases depend so much on having no competition from the local loop then they're pretty poor business cases. BCL and Woosh aren't about to stop building their networks any more than Telecom is. To claim they are is just a plea to the commissioner's emotional side and I'm sure as commissioner he doesn't have one.
Meanwhile Wired Country is fair flying along. Its "upsize" offering in Franklin, where you buy a service at one speed but receive a service 10 times faster, is stirring things up to the point where one customer is trafficking 10GB a day. My god, what is he doing with it all? What's he paying for that? Five dollars a day is the cost to him, and Wired Country isn't about to make him stop.
Wired Country is expanding its service to Hamilton where it will be able to offer broadband and voice for $80 a month to more than 10,000 households next month.
Neil Simmonds, CEO of Wired Country, once said to me "why ration a resource that isn't scarce?" and frankly, I'm with him on this one. Take the caps off and you'll see what users can really do with it. Is this an abuse of the system? No, it's not. I get quite mad when I hear about users abusing the system by using it. That's what it's for - to send and receive data. What is it? Are you guys in telco land crazy? This is good. This is what you want. Users, making use of your system.
The commissioner will be mulling over the submissions and making his final report to the government by the end of the year. The government then has a choice. It can accept the recommendations, it can reject them or it can ask for more information. It cannot build its own response to the report's findings or come up with some other implementation. A rejection of the report is a vote of no confidence in the commissioner, who it has to be said has done a stirling job to date. A request for more information is unlikely. Have you seen these reports? They don't lack in detail, that's for sure.
When we return from our lengthy and luxurious summer holidays we should find a whole new ball game to entertain and enthral. I'd pay good money to see that.
-See the submissions. Gasp at their audacity. Groan at their size.
- Mooloo magic
Sorry, but I have to mention this again. Counties Power is expanding into Hamilton, which is becoming something of a technological boom town.
Hamilton was the first city in New Zealand to have DSL, but a court case took care of that. Local ISP Lloyd Group had set up a DSL service using Telecom's A1 lines, but Telecom claimed the lines were for voice only and cut off the service's supply. Telepermit issues were also cited. This was in 1998, before Telecom offered JetStream. Lloyd shut up shop in 2002 after laying a complaint about anti-competitive practices with the Commerce Commission. The complaint was denied.
Since then, Hamilton has been in the same boat as the rest of the country, broadband wise. A fibre loop around the city centre has been argued over by council (I think the last use it was considering for the infrastructure was to help monitor business burglar alarms. Oh dear) and the university, once the gateway out to the internet for all New Zealanders, has become a user rather than provider.
Now with Counties Power expanding south and the development of the Waikato Innovation Centre at the old Ruakura Research Centre, which is a gorgeous tree-lined facility that sits between the uni campus and the city, Hamilton is developing itself as a centre for agri-tech business development. Go Mooloo go.
I think this kind of regional development is great news. It's great to see the giant slide towards the City reversed and is good for all concerned. Hamilton benefits from gaining new blood and will end up with less reliance on the old dairy farming industry that's been its backbone. The need for trained staff should mean the university can start churning out something other than management students (sorry, it's my old stomping ground and as a BA student I have to tell you, we hated management studies) and with the price of housing being far lower in Hamilton than Auckland or Wellington, why not?
The same applies to any regional centre that is pulling itself up out of its own mud. I'm all for it. Full credit, let's hope you can pull this one together.
-editorial from 2002 about the demise of Lloyd Group
- Good help is hard to find
I'm blaming the stand-in Fryup editor for not catching my boo-boo last week, but better late than never I'll finally tell you what happened when I received a call from the Domain Names NZ customer "service" centre.
I was going to tell you last week when it was relevant but that sun spot activity, the short week pressure and the Wales rugby team all conspired to make me forget. Ah well.
It's not that exciting after all that - I'd called Domain Names NZ trying to get hold of the owner Chesley Rafferty to ask questions about his "business". Domain Names NZ, you may recall, likes to send out letters to domain name holders offering to secure their names under a different domain (.net.nz, for example if they've got a .co.nz name). Not only does he breach the NZ domain name terms and conditions by sending out bulk unsolicited mail, he's potentially in breach of the Fair Trading Act for making them look like invoices. He's in big trouble in Australia as well for the same thing and so I was keen to talk to him.
Needless to say he wasn't available. But his minion did call me back to see how they could be of assistance. So I told him, in no uncertain terms. To protect the innocent, let's call him Wormtongue.
Where did you get my company name from? I bellowed. I am not allowed to tell you, he whined. You're breaching my privacy by stealing my contact details from another source, I howled. Did not, he mewled. And so on.
By the end of the conversation he agreed to remove IDG Communications' details from his database and not to darken my doorstep again. He laughed uproariously when I suggested his boss was facing charges in federal court of the matter (he is you know) and was mostly unrepentant. Didn't matter though, I felt much better after yelling at him for a bit, which is sad but there you go.
Meanwhile, across town as they say on Batman, my editor was receiving an email from one Chesley Rafferty pointing out his embarrassment at my FryUp. Honestly. Apparently Rafferty is embarrassed for my company that it would let "a journalist ... publish an article without apparently bothering to find out any factual detail". No, really.
Well, since you're clearly an avid reader Rafferty, let me point a few things out to you.
According to the Australian Competition & Consumer Commission website:
"The ACCC further alleges that Mr Rafferty was knowingly concerned and aided and abetted the alleged contravening conduct of Domain Names Australia Pty Ltd." Domain Names Australia is, as you may have gathered, the other company Rafferty owns.
Locally, the Commerce Commission is warning people not to deal with him. Then there's the potential breach of the Privacy Act. The Domain Name Commissioner is keen to discuss his lousy business practices with him as well and in Australia the Australia Domain Name Authority (auDA) has this to say on Rafferty, again from its website:
Previous auDA announcements about DNA and Chesley Rafferty
14 Oct 2003 Domain Names Australia - auDA News Update 14/10/03
28 Aug 2003 Consumer Alert: Mass mail out by Domain Names Australia Pty Ltd
27 Aug 2003 auDA launches Trade Practices claim against Domain Names Australia Pty Ltd and its Director, Chesley Rafferty
17 Jul 2003 Consumer Alert: Latest "net.au" mail out by Domain Names Australia Pty Ltd
19 Jun 2003 Consumer Alert: Domain Names Australia Pty Ltd
25 Sep 2002 Internet Registry Pty Ltd (trading as NetRegister) consents to Federal Court Orders
20 Sep 2002 auDA launches Trade Practices claim against Internet Registry Pty Ltd (trading as NetRegister) and its Director, Chesley Rafferty
9 Sep 2002 Consumer Alert: NetRegister letter contains incorrect information
29 Jul 2002 auDA takes action on Internet Registry mail out
8 Jul 2002 Internet Registry Pty Ltd – Mail out contains inaccurate information
And on September 19, 2002 auDA filed federal court proceedings against Internet Registry Pty Ltd and its Director Paul Chesley Rafferty "in respect to the ‘NetRegister’ mail out sent by them to domain name registrants early last week".
The ACCC is again taking Rafferty to court over his latest scam, and I use the term advisedly, and our own Commerce Commission would if he lived here but he doesn't so it has to sit and watch instead.