- Seconds away, round one
- esolutions, we hardly knew ye
Seconds away, round one
And so the great sport begins. TelstraClear has called in the heavy guns, in the form of the telecommunications commissioner, because it can't make headway with Telecom in its interconnection negotiations.
Or is it rather that TelstraClear is playing silly buggers and Telecom has called in the commissioner because TC owes it $40 million?
Or perhaps the commissioner's office has pre-empted them both by putting out a press release ... but that's just silly.
I have all these metaphors for the situation running around in my head. Toys, cots, throwing ... tantrums was first, but then I matured. Kids, schoolyard, bullying, telling teacher came next, but that also didn't seem quite right. I've settled on a boxing theme but I don't hold out much hope of sticking to it. Please forgive me if they get a bit scrambled -- this is really all too much fun.
Interconnection agreements are dull as dishwater to you and me, but to telcos they're the lifeblood of their business.
Telecom might own the biggest network in the country but it's required to let others connect to it, according to the terms of separately negotiated interconnection agreements. As negotiations with TelstraClear go nowhere, an added ingredient is a $40 million bill Telecom claims has gone unpaid. Telecom appears to be using that as a lever in the interconnection negotiations.
The problem really is that Telecom isn't agnostic when it comes to its lines. It doesn't treat all customers as equal. TelstraClear is, after all, both its biggest customer and biggest rival. Telecom's going to have to learn that the world has turned and it no longer has complete control over these things.
I get a bit tired of the two of them harping on about how things are done in Australia. Australia is a different country with different legal constraints, a different regulatory regime and different user expectations. Don't forget that the Australian government owns a huge chunk of Telstra and has never been one to shy away from playing dirty to help out its own companies. Just look at the airline industry for a starter.
Yes, Telstra plays dirty at home. And Telecom plays dirty here. It's really time to acknowledge that, cuff each other ruefully on the shoulders and stop telling us. We know. Enough already.
Telecom could have an uphill struggle here. The commissioner has already released a discussion document on interconnection (see the link below) that puts the average international charge per user per minute at between $0.0014 and $0.014. TelstraClear reportedly is offering to pay 0.14 to 1.4 cents. Telecom is saying it needs to charge 2.6 cents. Perhaps if we simply gave them both a printing press and some currency plates they could just leave us out of it and print their own cash? I'll chip in if it'll help.
The commissioner has 10 working days to decide whether or not he can be bothered with this lot. Then, assuming he takes it on and the poor bugger probably has to, he has 90 days to come up with an interim ruling.
And then the fun will really start.
esolutions, we hardly knew ye
It's not described as such in the press release, but esolutions has ceased to exist.
That's an odd statement when you consider that esolutions never really existed in the first place. This virtual company, or alliance, was a blend of Telecom, EDS and Microsoft, and in its first iteration as an ASP company didn't even bother putting its phone number on its website.
Did I mention the hoohah over its name? A chap called Bruce Trevarthen, who helped Telecom set up esolutions, had a company called E-Solutions. Despite telling Telecom this and getting assurances that they wouldn't trample all over his trading name, that's exactly what happened when the virtual company launched in February 2000.
Trevarthen initially made money out of it -- his company was getting all the calls destined for esolutions because of its peculiar lack of contact details -- but, eventually, Trevarthen was forced to change his company's name.
But now it's just yesterday's news. Esolutions has been incorporated into Telecom's Advanced Solutions Group, which specialises in coming up with custom answers to big issues faced by corporates. There was supposed to be a pyramid structure to it all with the ASG at the top (small, customised solutions), then esolutions (modular, bit more mainstream), and Xtra's business arm below that (many answers at a more basic level), but that seems to have gone out the window now.
So the bright and breezy press release, "Telecom strengthens esolutions business group", says the alliance is still intact and that this new move will make it even better, faster, stronger. Apparently they have the technology.
I'm sceptical (no, go on!), if only because when a release lands on my desk that is so over the top in its description of how wonderful the future is (I gotta wear shades) there's bound to be something afoot. It was always a little hard to figure out just how well the alliance was doing.
Anyway, it seems to have slipped in under the radar of the other IT publications so you'll just have to make do with our stories on it. Ah well.