- Walker Wireless goes toe-to-toe
- Registry for sale, one careful lady owner
- STOP PRESS: Telecom to relaunch broadband
- Walker Wireless goes toe-to-toe
I had to laugh.
There was Telecom, with a straight face, telling us how bad it was that Walker Wireless would have to duplicate network capacity in Northland having won the tender for the Project Probe roll out of broadband capacity.
Apparently duplicating the network infrastructure is wasteful and costly and shouldn't be allowed. "It's bad, mmmkay."
Hang on, I thought. Didn't Telecom also say that nobody should automatically get access to its network, that competitors should build their own if they want to compete? Yes, I do believe it did.
Telecom clearly wants to eat its cake and have it too (doesn't it make much more sense that way round?).
Telecom is probably smarting somewhat since Walker Wireless has won three out of three contracts so far for Project Probe money. Probe is the government's plan to roll out broadband capacity to schools in the regions (ie, not the CBDs of our three largest cities) and it's offering cold hard cash to the successful bidders. There are a number of regions up for tender, but three of them (Northland, Southland and the Wairarapa) decided not to wait for the rest and went out on their own. Each has chosen Walker Wireless to work with. The remainder will be chosen in one lump by government-appointed project manager Amos Aked Swift. That decision is due by June.
There's something else I learned about Project Probe this week that should be recorded here. While Probe is supposed to bring broadband to schools, it's only doing so to schools that aren't already serviced by broadband capability.
What does that mean? Well, about 80% of the schools in New Zealand are within reach of a DSL-enabled exchange, so they're excluded from Project Probe. Walker Wireless won't get any cash to extend its coverage to those schools - they've effectively been gifted to Telecom.
So 80% of schools in any region are already Telecom's. They're the easiest schools to reach, the easiest schools to wire. The remaining 20% will be the difficult ones that Telecom didn't want. Now make a business case for servicing just those schools. Tricky, isn't it?
Walker Wireless is pretty much undeterred, though. It's going to use the Probe money to build the initial infrastructure and then roll out services anyway to other schools and businesses in each region which want them. By the end of next year it should be on the way towards its goal of having an offering in almost every corner of the country, and that's to be applauded. Wireless won't be the answer for every user, but it's great to have options, and that's what Probe is all about. The FryUp understands that at least one of the three regions that has already awarded its tender to Walker Wireless was asked to conduct an external independent audit of its findings just to reassure the government that this simply wasn't a case of "Anything But Telecom". From the resounding silence over the tender process I think we can be assured of that.
- Registry for sale
This really could be the final chapter of the long-running Domainz saga.
It seems like a million years ago when I first came across the strange and arcane world of registrars, registries, registrants, of InternetNZ, ISOCNZ, Domainz and their ilk.
Now that InternetNZ, the society formerly known as the Internet Society (although it was never formally part of the international ISOC group) has moved completely and finally to its shared registry model (SRS), it's been deemed inappropriate for the non-profit society to own a profit-making registrar. So Domainz is for sale.
Domainz has had a rocky time of it in the past five years. It's gone from being the monopoly manager of the register, with a reputation for being difficult, to put it mildly, to rolling out an IT system that cost hundreds of thousands of dollars more than it was supposed to and failed to deliver the goods, to being re-purposed by InternetNZ, to finally being a professional, competent business.
It seems ironic that now that it's working well, InternetNZ wants to flog it off, but that's the way of the world. It would be inappropriate for the society charged with maintaining the .nz name space to be competing with registrars for business in that space.
And so it's on the block, and first to put up their hands to say "we'll take it" is the management team.
Actually, there's some question as to how quickly the management team got their hand up, given that the CEO and chairman of the board are part of the management buy out proposal.
Steven Heath, former treasurer at InternetNZ, has asked questions about the conflict of interest inherent in having CEO and chairman both keen to buy a company they're both still running. Won't they have an advantage over other bidders? Doesn't InternetNZ have an obligation to put Domainz on the market on an equal opportunity basis?
You can follow the link below to Heath's blog to see what he has to say.
- STOP PRESS: Telecom to relaunch broadband
The FryUp's running a tad late today (what do you mean you didn't notice?) mainly because I've just dashed back from a Telecom briefing. I thought you'd like to get the news hot off the grill, so to speak, so I've saved it up for the FryUp because that's just the kind of guy I am.
Telecom's stated goal is to get broadband into 100,000 households by the end of next year. Currently, to compare and contrast, it has around 36,000 households and languishes at a penetration rate of only 3%.
While Telecom says publicly that 3% is just fine and dandy and puts New Zealand in the middle of the pack, residentially speaking, it's about to launch its own campaign of shock and awe to bring broadband to the masses.
In the coming months we're told to expect new prices, new pricing plans, more content aimed at broadband users, better help and support and a huge new marketing campaign.
New prices would be good - the three legs of broadband are: price, applications and content and network reach. Telecom can reach almost 90% of the country's phones with DSL now so network reach isn't an issue any more. Now it's got to convince people that there's a reason for broadband in the home and for that it has to address pricing and content.
A more flexible approach to pricing is likely to be its first move. Take the games realm, for instance. JetStream Games are held up as an example of what Telecom can do if it knows what level of service you require for any given application. All DSL users get to log on to the service at full-speed, regardless of whether they're on the proper JetStream or a rate-limited JetStream Starter. Users aren't charged per megabyte of traffic (currently they're not charged at all) and that's just as well given the high levels of traffic any gamer uses.
Video on demand is the same. Telecom is trying out JetVideo (or as one presenter called it at the launch, JetTelevision, which is very interesting) and users are charged per movie rather than per megabyte.
Hopefully flexible will also mean cheaper because the biggest problem at the moment with DSL in New Zealand is its horrendous cost. No home user can really afford to make the leap from dial-up to broadband without a compelling business case (the so-called "wife acceptance factor" which is a term I've been dying to use for weeks now), and they're still few and far between.
Anyway if it means more people on broadband then more power to them because as with any network its true potential only becomes apparent when you have a critical mass of users. I bet the first guy to buy a fax machine felt really stupid ("you can fax me if you like... please... somehow") until there were enough users to make faxing commmon. It's the same with broadband.