FryUp:Telecommunications crystal ball / Money money money

Top Stories: - Telecommunications crystal ball - Ah, the budget

Top Stories:

- Telecommunications crystal ball

- Ah, the budget

- Telecommunications crystal ball

The mists are clearing ... a vision is forming ... this year telecommunications will ... can't quite see ... something about rollercoasters.

OK, so it doesn't take a sooth sayer to see this year will be one of fun for all in the telecommunications world. The new act will be tested, prodded and poked. Telecom will find its various money-making schemes tested, prodded and poked. The commissioner will also probably be tested, prodded and poked although he may take umbrage at that.

It's begun already, of course. Last week saw the first bout of telling teacher on the other telco. We'll hear more about that next week once the commissioner announces whether or not he's looking at the issue, but I guess he'd be hard pressed not to.

This week Telecom has rounded out the submissions to the commissioner with a second request that he make a determination on interconnection. If that all seems like three too many requests to do the same thing, you're almost right. Both TelstraClear and Telecom have asked that the commission look into interconnection agreements for both companies' networks, hence four requests. I fully expect commissioner Webb to release a statement that says, "Yes. Sure. OK. Why not?"

But while that goes on at the regulatory level, up on the front lines things are also getting more interesting.

Telecom is quietly rolling out its Djuice email service to 027 phone users, although it's an invitation-only process at the moment.

The Djuice email service, you may remember, had to be shut down when several users received emails to their cellphones that weren't meant for them. Some kind of IP address issue seems to be at the root of it all, but Telecom hasn't explained what the problem was.

Now it says it's fixed but rather than dump everyone back on the system all at once, it's doing a soft rollout to coax the system back to full steam. Probably a wise move.

Then of course we had that old chestnut - Telecom won't provide us with enough lines to provision our customers so we're seeking a court injunction.

TelstraClear says it ordered 62 lines from Telecom in August but has not received them yet. Telecom says TelstraClear owes it tens of millions of dollars and is lucky it's still getting dial tone let alone extra lines. I say it will all end in tears, especially since this is going on in the courts and whatever the outcome will drag on for a while. I'd hoped the commissioner and the new act would mean this kind of thing didn't happen any more, but the telcos seem quite happy to duke it out lawyer for lawyer. I guess when you're not paying your own legal bills it's not an issue. Who's paying, you ask? Well, we will. One way or another we always pay.

And did I tell you the one about the two ISPs? When Telstra bought Clear it ran into a snag - Paradise and ClearNet basically operate in the same market but they're now both owned by TelstraClear. By combining the resources of the two ISPs in one location, namely Auckland, TelstraClear hopes to save money and keep the customers satisfied. Sadly, it seems teething troubles are causing customers no end of consternation as they run up against a wall of busy signals and find they can't get through to the help desk.

Paradise has built a reputation as being a smart ISP. Good tech support has always been its strongest suit and unfortunately that's being stifled at the moment. The existing help desk team will have to either move to Auckland to be part of the faults centre or find new jobs and that kind of transition is always going to be fraught.

Meanwhile, across town at Xtra (nearly done, quite a bag this week), another case of users being charged for someone else accessing their account has come to light.

Xtra likes to allow more than one user to access a customer's account at one time. Rather than stop this it charges the account holder an overlapping usage charge. I guess allowing multiple users could be a good thing if you're travelling a lot or there are more than one of you wanting to get online from different locations at once, but it does seem to lead to unauthorised use and that's what seems to have happened in these two separate cases from opposite ends of the North Island.

Both cases have been put in the hands of the police so details are a bit sketchy while the investigations are under way, but there seem to be two separate rings of kids happily using other people's dial-up accounts. How they get access to these accounts is also something of a mystery - and could be as simple as family members being less than careful with user names and passwords - but there are wrinkles to the case that seem odd. How does the access continue even after the Xtra help desk staff have changed the password and the victim's PC is no longer connected to the internet?

Actually, you can forget about the coming year in telecommunications – it's interesting right now.

Telecom makes second approach to Commerce Commission - IDGNet

Djuice to quietly relaunch email - IDGNet

TelstraClear takes Telecom to High Court - IDGNet

Trouble in Paradise - IDGNet

Another Xtra user racks up overlapping use charges - IDGNet

Xtra_ordinarily harsh - Consumer Magazine

Net_fraud bill wiped but victim hacked off - NZ Herald

- Ah, the budget

Quick, the budget's coming. Rush down to the petrol station and fill up your car, then stop at the pub on the way home for a flagon of sherry.

Don't you miss the bad old days when that was the reaction most people had to a budget?

These days it's such a tame affair. The leader of the opposition even forgot to propose a vote of no confidence after the speech, although they were quick to point out that this did not imply they had confidence.

So while the usual suspects lined up – health, education, retirement, economic development – we also had a bevy of announcements about money for high-tech.

Am I the only one that finds it odd that the government didn't want to discuss how much money was being spent on broadband initiatives because of commercial sensitivity? Isn't this a budget? Aren't budgets all about signalling spending intentions? I guess it's a sign of the times, but it seems to point to a weakening of the division between commerce and state if you ask me.

So we're to see broadband to schools and communities (but we knew that), more spending on science and research (old news) and more money for laptops for teachers (just give them a payrise already).

Anyway the grey speech has already been labelled "the work of a technocrat" and it does seem to use a lot of the issues raised at the "knowledge wave" conference as guiding beacons, including $34 million towards a "brain gain" programme to help direct students in the "right" direction. Picking winners as well as noses.

The detail, in all its excruciating glory, can be found in the links below.

Tens of millions for rural broadband in budget - IDGNet

High_speed internet access for schools - IDGNet

High_tech sectors hail extra cash - NZ Herald

Plan to give comunities (sic) access to broadband internet - NZ Herald

Schools' fast internet access a hit with Walker Wireless boss - NZ Herald

Budget 2002 - Nzoom

Treasury's Budget page - See for yourself, straight from the horse's mouth

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