FryUp: Xtra (doesn't) get a virus called the blues

Top Story: Xtra (doesn't) get a virus called the blues

Top Stories:

- Xtra (doesn't) get a virus called the blues

- What am I bid for this lovely spectra?

- Vote Broccoli Party - the sensible choice

- Xtra (doesn't) get a virus called the blues

How do you tell the difference between bandwidth from one ISP and another? Usually, you can't. It's only when the ISP is having trouble keeping up with its own marketing department and the number of available lines or modems or pigeons with empty pouches on their legs gets too high and you can't log on that you notice.

But surely there must be other ways of differentiating yourself in the market? None of the ISPs have really stood out as being wildly different to any of the others in the past: they've been "business-centric" or "user friendly" but really, the service they offer has been the same as just about anyone else's.

Once upon a time it was different, of course. Ihug came along and blew the whole marketing model out of the water by offering flat-rate dial-up connections instead of charging by byte. But really, since then, there's no obvious difference between services.

Xtra has set out to up the ante with its new virus scanning/removal service. The beauty of this beast is that it's free and, for all the whining about it being compulsory, it should be thought of as immunisation jabs at school. If the vast majority of kids are immunised then it should stop the epidemic spread of disease and keep the majority of us safe in our homes. It's the same here - Xtra is the largest ISP in the land, so by automatically nailing viruses as and when they come through, the rest of us should be able to sleep easier at night.

How many viruses? In the first 17 hours Xtra tells me it blocked around 70,000 infected email attachments. The emails themselves still get through but the attachments are blocked. If you average that out, it's about 100,000 emails a day. That's an outrageous amount of traffic and my concern here would be: has Xtra got the hardware to make that work without slowing down my connection? Apparently it has but we'll have to keep an eye on that one.

Xtra says the anti-virus solution, which it bought from Trend Micro, will be updated hourly, which is certainly more quickly than I would update my AV app. This has to be a good thing--if we can cut the number of viruses in circulation then that must be a positive move, surely? The best thing about the service is that it's free to Xtra customers.

Xtra isn't alone in blocking viruses. Ihug has its i-Spy service which has been running for almost a year. IDGNet first wrote about i-Spy in August last year, and Ihug should be commended for launching so early. The service also includes an anti-spam package, which frankly sounds like a great idea to me. The Herald found out about the anti-spam thing this week, but it's been there for a while guys. Maybe Ihug is re-launching it?

The only problem with it is that it's an extra cost on top of the connection fee. Not much - up to $5 a month - and it is only applicable to dial-up customers so any broadband users are out of luck.

So what about those poor companies making anti-virus software - isn't this going to put them out of business?

I don't know about you but I've taken to never relying on anyone else in this internet game. I'm still installing and updating and running firewalls, anti-virus software and intrusion detection on my line. I also want a low-cost way of monitoring how many packets are coming and going to my account and where they're coming from but then I'm very cautious on such things.

Xtra service 'won't end all viruses' - IDGNet

Ihug service to keep inbox clean - NZ Herald

Ihug to offer home user security package. - IDGNet

- What am I bid for this lovely spectra?

Now this is how to run a spectrum auction.

For those with long enough memories and not much to do, you'll remember the 2GHz spectrum auction that lasted and lasted and lasted... It was like one of those boiled sweets that just won't end. Only without the sugar high.

This time around instead of seven months, we're looking more like seven days. The rules say you can only withdraw from an auction three times instead of however many you like, so we're not seeing that nonsense where telcos say "oops, overbid on that just to annoy my competitors. I'll just withdraw now and drop it back to the reserve price again". If there's no action in any of the auction segments for a round then it's all over red rover, which also helps focus the bidder's mind. Also, the auction's been split into four smaller segments, any of which can end while the others carry on, so that's good too.

So what are they bidding for? Two lots have already gone - Vodafone bought a chunk of spectrum designed to work with GSM phones to augment what they've already got and the other block, left over from the 2GHz auction, failed to attract attention, and so is sitting on the shelf, unloved.

The rest is split into two types: spectrum that's good for wireless local loop services and spectrum aimed at LMDS, which is another wireless service that currently TelstraClear operates. All told this is the "local loop buster" auction, so it's no surprise that Telecom isn't bidding. It's not even registered to bid. Vodafone, TelstraClear, BCL, Walker Wireless and a host of others are all registered, including UCC, a new company to me, but with former Radionet director Leicester Chatfield as one of its principals, and also Radionet's new owner, Compass Communication. Econet Wireless is also there. You may remember Econet as the Zimbabwean-based GSM network company that set up shop here last year before vanishing from sight to work really hard at becoming a telco. I guess we'll have to wait and see what it gets up to.

Spectrum auction through to round seven - IDGNet

Snappy start to radio auction - NZ Herald

- Vote Broccoli Party - the sensible choice

And so, thank the gods, the election campaign is about to end. No more grimacing faces on politicians as they stand there behind podiums trying to explain fiscal policy in 30 words or fewer. No more endless analysis of National's advertising campaign or Winston's seeming inability to die (a stake and some garlic ought to do it, surely). No more. Just, no more, okay?

I'm always reminded, come election time, of Douglas Adams' wonderful story of the planet full of humans that is invaded by alien lizard creatures. The lizards set up a parliamentary democracy and demand the humans vote for certain lizards, which the humans do. Someone points out to them that they don't actually have to vote for this conquering race of aliens; however, the reply is swift and damning: "but if we don't vote the wrong lizard might get in".

So enjoy the spectacle tomorrow night. I always try to imagine myself as the Roman emperor watching the Christians first XV versus the lions. It helps immensely I find.

Real time election results to your WAP phone - IDGNet

Vote counting goes remote - IDGNet

Election site for those that prefer their results on the PC rather than TV

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