Telecom chokes on cheap calls

Some Telecom subscribers were disappointed last weekend when calls to overseas friends and relatives under a weekend '$3 for unlimited time' deal failed to go through because of congestion.

A number of local Telecom subscribers were disappointed last weekend when calls to overseas friends and relatives under a weekend “$3 for unlimited time” deal failed to go through because of congestion.

So what happened to all that extra capacity promised from the Southern Cross cable? That was nothing to do with the problem, says Telecom spokeswoman Linda Sanders. The under-supply was in the line and switching capacity that Telecom purchased from carriers in the UK, US, Ireland and Australia.

The volume of international calls “was pretty close to the capacity we purchased for it,” she says. “There was congestion only at peak times, mostly in the evenings. And mostly it would simply have been a matter of redialling [once] to get a connection.”

Sanders rejects any suggestion of misjudgment by Telecom in its purchasing. “It was simply that the promotion was more successful that we ever thought it would be.”

The answer for the future is clearly to buy more capacity overseas, she says. Telecom does not know directly how many unsuccessful calls there were, but some estimate of the supply-demand mismatch can be made from the lengths of time congestion occurred.

“That, as I said, indicated that we were pretty close” to getting it right.

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