Telecom customers will, in the near future, be managing their own phone services, and even resolving faults, over the Internet.
Alan Goudge, manager of Telecom's three year old national faults centre in Takapuna, says "self-service" extensions to its existing OpenUptime faults system are "very achievable. That's not airy-fairy stuff way out in the future - I think it'll be with us in the not-too-distant future.
"Self-service could be offered either from the keypad at home, or via the Internet," says Goudge. "The challenge I suppose is educating our customers to understand what they're doing, but if we've got a system that will take them through the process, I think it's achievable.
"Customers could provide themselves with smart-phone services - call-minder or call-diversion. They could do some initial analysis as to what their problem may be, and it's not beyond the capabilities of the system that they could resolve some problems themselves."
Such services, ironically, provide less of a challange to the faults service than two more familiar catchcries of the modern telecommunications environment - PCS and number portability, which both mean that a certain number can no longer be automatically associated with a certain location. Goudge says the centre is looking at ways to cope with both.
"The first challenge is the integration of cellular and fixed and the introduction of PCS, but the big one is portability.
"Historically, 09 has always been Telecom Auckland. Taking number portability to the final degree, I could be a Telecom customer in Auckland and I might decide Auckland's too expensive a location, so I move down to Christchurch. But I want to keep my number, so I'm now an Auckland number in Christchurch. then I might decide that Telecom isn't giving me the service I was and I go to an alternative carrier. So I'm now a Telecom 09 number - but I'm actually an alternative carrier's customer in Christchurch.
"So you can understand the confusion that will present in terms of managing the service to that customer. The customer can have a number which is theirs - but that number will not necessarily identify a carrier or a location."