Telecom hopes for online payphone fix

Attempts so far to remotely repair thousands of Telecom payphones have failed but the company is still hopeful it won't have to fix phones individually.

Telecom hopes it will not be necessary to go physically to every one of the 2500 or so payphones affected by a software fault in order to repair them.

The company was still in discussion with the software supplier, Ascom Monetel of France, said spokesman John Goulter yesterday and is “obviously hoping” to get a solution that can be deployed online from a central point, in the same way as the software upgrade that caused the fault was rolled out.

Telecom tested the rollout in three stages, Goulter says. On July 14, it was tried on an initial sample of 20 phones and was successful. A second rollout later in July applied the update to 500 phones with no apparent problem. On July 31, the full deployment to 5000-odd phones was started in batches of 500.

“On the 7th or 8th it became obvious that there was a fault, and we stopped the rollout,” he says.

Telecom attempted to reverse the upgrade, but “the software had made its imprint”, he says, comparing the process to registry alterations made in a PC when upgrading Windows, and the attempt was unsuccessful.

By yesterday, Telecom was confident it had identified the fault and was working on an efficient fix strategy, according to Goulter.

Ernie Newman, head of TUANZ, says the telecommunications user group has not inquired into the failure, as “it’s not a business-user problem”.