So there we were hanging around in phone-space chatting about the upcoming Telecom tele-conference and it slowly dawned on us - it should have started about 15 minutes ago. And in fact, it had. Turns out Telecom changed the number you dialled to join the tele-conference to hear the chair of the board tell us about the results. All I could think was: if they can't run a phone hook-up, can they run a telco? Telecom recorded net earnings of $300 million in the second half of last year. That's somewhere in the middle of what was guessed, sorry estimated, by the analysts last week. The result is down from $406 million for the same period in 1999. Telecom blames its "Australian growth initiatives" in particular the takeover of AAPT.
"Total revenues for the half year ended 31 December 2000 rose to $2,673 million, reflecting growth of more than 50% in Australian revenues compared with the corresponding period in 1999 and an increase of 2.3% in New Zealand revenues." Remember, this is a market where 10% revenue growth is considered slack - and Telecom in New Zealand raked in 2.3%? Australian analyst Paul Budde blames the years where Telecom's profit mostly ended up in the pockets of its investors instead of being reinvested in the network. Budde, it should be said, is no fan of Telecom New Zealand however his remarks can't be completely ruled out. He says it will cost Telecom "hundreds of millions of dollars" to bring the network up to speed and that's money the company just does not have.
"Their margins are squeezed so tight they cannot afford to do it." Looking at Telecom's half yearly report seems to confirm what Budde is saying: net earnings are down even though revenue is up. We spend more on telecommunications than ever before, yet Telecom's profit is falling.
One of the few highlights of the report is the quote from Roderick Dean about the Southern Cross Cable.
"From this investment, we expect an initial dividend of approximately US$100 million this financial year." That's great, but that's in the future - it has nothing to do with this last half year. Oh and as Budde points out, revenues in submarine cables in Asia have fallen by 80% this year.
There is still no sign of Telecom telling us how much it makes from the local loop either. Last year Telecom missed the deadline for reporting its earnings from its monopoly line business claiming it was too complex an issue to work out. The company had no trouble working out how much it cost to maintain the rural network. Will we ever see those figures for the local loop? It's unlikely, given the impending new telecommunications regime minister Paul Swain is implementing.
As a last thought on Telecom, its report was released the day after an embarrassing gaff where Telecom fell off the internet.Telecom's corporate website, from which the company runs a range of customer services, and all those using domains listed on its two main DNS servers, ish1.telecom.co.nz and ish2.telecom.co.nz, were unavailable because both nameservers were not responding to queries. Telecom is playing down the problem, but surely an e-commerce company the size of Telecom should be able to stay online. Shouldn't it?
Big fall in profit for Telecom - Stuff
The fat lady's warming up for Napster
Napster could be nearing the end of its legendary run as the US court of appeals hands down a ruling on whether it breaches copyright or not. It does, and can only continue in operation if it kicks off anyone who is a "pirate". That should leave about eight people using Napster. Currently, as of this writing, 10,679 users are desperately trying to access 8.9 terabytes of music. Network stress testing hasn't been this fun in years.
While the IT industry debates peer-to-peer (P2P) file sharing and the music industry debates copyright law the Napster user base is looking for a new way to carry on doing what has been deemed stealing. Gnutella is often touted as the logical replacement for Napster - Gnutella being a file sharing format. However, Slashdot carries an interesting article and debate on whether Gnutella could cope with the hoards of musically-inclined downloads. (As an aside, isn't it all getting a bit strange when an email roundup of news quotes from a website that has a debate about an article posted on another site? Too post-modern for me I think. Time for a lie down.)
Peer-to-peer moves beyond Napster - IDGNet
US court rules Napster users violate copyrights - NZ Herald
Game Set and Match to Kournikova
Ah, Anna. Temptress of a thousand emails. You broke our hearts when it turned out you were a virus and not a photo. We sobbed. We wailed. We howled our disappointment, and then we panicked when we realised you were merrily tormenting everyone on our address book. How many of you were disappointed there was no photo at all. Come on, own up.
Anna K was a brief visitor to our shores - similar in design to the larger, nastier Love Bug of this time last year, Anna K was nothing more than a tease. The payload, which could have been quite nasty considering just how many companies hadn't bothered with the software patch Microsoft put out after Love Bug, turned out to be a fizzer and the biggest problem was the clean-up and dealing with pesky reporters. One US analyst puts the cost of virus protection at US$17 billion and that's for one year and only for companies in the States. Worldwide the toll must be much higher.
If there's one thing that Anna has taught us it's virus envy. A number of folk in the office were bitterly upset not to have received an email at all. One member of the team was childishly happy when he finally received it. Some were left with a strange feeling of rejection that we weren't caught up in the whole affair - being left out is no fun.
Interestingly, one software company warned of email packages that have a preview mode - the email is displayed in a pane at the bottom of the screen without the user needing to double click on the email itself. Apparently this kind of view can automatically launch attachments if you're not careful, leading to the automatic spreading of a virus. Might pay to check out how your machine is configured.
Anna hits 100,000, slows networks - Australian IT
Kournikova at centre of latest computer virus - NZ Herald