Vodafone has completed the upgrade of its cellphone network from GSM, its current standard, to GPRS or General Packet Radio Service. This new network, which is really only an extension of the GSM system, should allow data transmission at speeds of up to 144kbit/second. Unfortunately, New Scientist magazine spoke to the GPRS technical marketing manager at Motorola in Europe and was told the phones will never be able to reach that speed because of the possibility of the phones exceeding safety levels. Instead the maximum users can expect from this so-called high-speed data network is a contemplative 56kbit/second. Vodafone New Zealand's director of engineering Arthur Neely confirms that such speed restrictions will take place. "I think that's an accurate comment," says Neely when asked about transmission being restricted to 20Kbit/s to 30Kbit/s. The problem stems from the way GSM and GPRS transmit and receive data. In GSM calls, each channel is split into eight slots. Each slot is allotted to a different phone and the calls run at 9.6kbit/s. This is fine for voice, but data crawls along and downloading email and the like would be tedious at best.
GPRS uses more than one slot, each running at 9.6kbit/s; however the phone heats up and may burn out if more than one slot is used and if more than two slots are employed may exceed radiation emission standards. Two slots at 9.6kbit/sec hardly makes for exciting bursts of speed. Initial phones, from Ericsson and Motorola, will be limited to only one slot. By the middle of 2001 they promise phones with up to four slots of capacity which is still well off the pace.
Following the New Scientist story Motorola retracted its spokesman's comments, saying he was unqualified to speak on the matter. This man is the GPRS technical marketing manager for Motorola. If he doesn't know then who does?
Radiation worries may cripple GPRS - IDGNet
Too hot to handle - New Scientist
Get your head round this - New Scientist
Motorola backtracks on GPRS safety concerns - ZDNet UK
Brocker lays off staff/trading halted on NASDAQ
Once a high flier in New Zealand's technology market with its listing on NASDAQ and its bright and shining future, Brocker Technology Group faces troubling times ahead with financial mismanagement in Australia leading to 40 New Zealand employees losing their jobs. Trading in Brocker's shares was stopped on the NASDAQ stock exchange on February 15. At the time, they were trading on the NASDAQ at around US48c, meaning Brocker was in danger of being delisted as the NASDAQ requires shares to maintain a minimum bid price of $US1 or more.
This is hardly the first time we've seen a New Zealand company have its wings clipped because of problems with an Australian partner or parent company. Zivo is one name that springs to mind - a successful New Zealand arm forced to fight for its existence after problems with its parent company.
Brocker lays off 75 ANZ staff - IDGNet
Brocker fighting NASDAQ delisting - NZHerald
Market suspends Brocker shares - NZHerald
Troubled Brocker axes staff - Stuff
All Change at Advantage Group
The company that claims to be the largest technology company in New Zealand and owned Flying Pig, Glazier Systems and Australian web services company Whitewolf, has reported a drop in earnings, a restructuring and the departure of its CEO, Greg Cross. Four new CEOs will be appointed to run the four separate divisions of the company with a group managing director overseeing operations. Cross will help select the GM and then retreat to his role as director on the board but will no longer have any hand in the day-to-day operation of the company.
Advantage's adventure with Flying Pig cost the company $1.86 million, but to balance the books it made $3.34 million from its shares in venture capital firm Strathmore.
Advantage has had a rough time of it lately. In 1999 Advantage was part of the Qixel group of companies and poised to attack the NASDAQ and enter the Asian market. Qixel was disbanded following the NASDAQ crash and Advantage ownership reverted to Eric Watson, chair Evan Christian and his family and Gordon Investments. Advantage made trouble for itself with the confusing release of its financial and ended up with egg on its face following the implementation of Domainz new system which reportedly cost over $700,000 and immediately was beset by bugs. Quite what the next six months will bring is anyone's guess.
Advantage CEO goes in shakeup - IDGNet
Advantage's profit down, CEO resigning - NZ Herald
Qixel makes itself scarce - IDGNet