We all suspected it and last weekend Telecom was outed as a latte-swilling urbanite of the first order. After much whinging about the cost of honouring its Kiwi Share obligation (a contract between Telecom and the government to provide free local calls and guarantee service to all communities in New Zealand), Telecom admitted it doesn't want the expense of servicing its country customers. The self-pitying telco says it costs $167 million a year to provide services to 380,000 unprofitable customers in rural communities and small towns.
Telecom wants rural users, the government and other telcos to share the cost of upgrading its network to provide the same level of telecommunications service as city folk take for granted. Options for Telecom could be to sell the rural network, or tender out lines maintenance work and billing operations. With this in mind it has been talking to power companies in the hope that they might find these rustic users less of a millstone around the corporate neck. Indications so far are that the power companies are interested, but the devil's in the detail, as they say.
In separate news, Telecom chief Theresa Gattung was made a director of INL, publisher of The Dominion, Sunday Star Times and the Evening Post. Of course, one would expect this to have absolutely no effect on the way the telco is covered by the papers, but all-in-all it's not a great look.
Shared cost sought for rural net - NZ.Internet.com
Wilson & Horton Interactive shrinks
Cyber-publishing companies did a collective gulp when they heard that the online division of NZ Herald publisher Wilson & Horton is cutting one third of its jobs.
W&HI, which produces the Herald online as well as StockWatch, Travel, NetClassifieds and MyTown, has decided to shelve several planned e-commerce projects. However, it wouldn't be drawn on what those projects are.
Online editorial workers have already been largely absorbed into the paper's staff and five sales staff are set to follow. Discussions over the future of about 10 jobs will take place over the next two weeks. W&HI's retrenchment brings back memories of NBR's overly ambitious online venture, which ultimately proved to be uneconomic. NBR has only just managed to come back online with a stripped down version of its former self.
Herald trims its internet ambitions - IDGNet
Internet inertia leads to job losses - NZHerald online
Ihug and Sky get loud on digital
It seemed to be a matter of me too, me too, when Sky and Ihug separately announced digital TV plans straight after TVNZ and Telstra Saturn. Both touted a range of interactive services. Ihug launched a new keyboard, niftily named the Surfboard, that brings the internet to the living room telly. Sky said it is coming out with an interactive weather channel.
Meanwhile, former TVNZ new media boss Reg Russ resurfaced at start-up company Ice Interactive, a developer of digital TV applications.
Ihug launches TV internet box - IDGNet
Interactive TV pilot planned for February - Computerworld