Stories by Juha Saarinen

111 failure exposes Telecom’s POTS problem

The recent failure of the 111 emergency service — no, not for the new XT 3G mobile network, but for Telecom’s landlines in Auckland and Northland — drew attention to the fact that the incumbent operates the Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN) on equipment that was installed in the early 1980s.

FryUp: ACTA warmup

Fry in the eye
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We are amazed, nay stunned as flabbergasted mullets even, that Geekboy Stephen didn’t laud Microsoft for following Apple’s lead and omitting copy and paste functionality in the first version Windows Mobile, sorry Phone 7.
— Stephen Fry at MWC 2010 Barcelona
— No copy-and-paste in Windows Phone 7 OS

Emergency calls from XT phones possible when network is down

It is possible to make 111 emergency calls even when XT goes down, Telecom says, after media reports stating the opposite have surfaced.
The specifications for the Global System of Mobile Communications, or GSM, require that handsets can be used to make mobile calls even when they’re out of credit or locked. On some networks, emergency calls are possible without the SIM card inserted too, but in New Zealand, it has to be in the phone.
As long as there are other mobile networks within reach of the customer’s phone, dialling pre-programmed emergency numbers such as 111, 112, 999 or 911 forces the handset to make a call on any available network. For GSM handsets, 112 is the standard emergency call service number but in New Zealand, the 08 international emergency number also works.
However, at today's press briefing on the XT outage, Telecom CEO Paul Reynolds said some phones may not switch over to alternative networks when they lose voice coverage but still have SMS or data service. This appears to have been the case in last night's incident.
Reynolds says others reported the incident and there were no delays in response caused by XT issues.
To be able to see another GSM network, handsets have to support the frequency band it uses. Telecom’s XT 3G network uses 850MHz mostly, with 2100MHz in parts of the major cities. Vodafone’s 2G GSM network operates in the 900 and 1800MHz bands, and its 3G network in the 900MHz and 2100MHz ones.
Like Vodafone, 2 Degrees’ GSM network operates in the 900 and 1800MHz bands.
XT 3G handsets and GSM phones cannot roam onto Telecom’s old CDMA network, however.

Enough is enough, says Reynolds, on XT outages

Telecom CEO Paul Reynolds, with Retail boss Alan Gourdie and Gen-i CEO Chris Quin in attendance, opened up today’s media briefing on XT failures by declaring one outage unacceptable and further ones intolerable.
Reynolds apologised to customers, and listed the problems that caused XT to fail over the past few months. The first outage was caused by corruption of software during a routine operating procedure, which meant the Christchurch radio network controller (RNC) in turn failed.
Hardware failure at a router caused the January outage, whereas as migration to new RNC in early February, ironically ordered and deployed to alleviate the earlier issues encountered.

Frank Mount asked to resign over XT: Reynolds

Telecom CEO Paul Reynolds confirmed at today’s media conference that the incumbent’s chief transformation officer, industry veteran Frank Mount, was asked to resign because of the XT problems.
According to Reynolds, it was Mount’s responsibility to ensure the smooth operation of XT, saying this “clearly didn’t happen”.
According to Paul Reynolds, Mount was not in charge of the crisis management team for the outages. Instead, David Havercroft, Telecom's chief information officer, took over and led the crisis team for all the recent XT outages.

Routing fault pushes NZ ISPs out of Limelight

A traffic routing fault with backbone provider Optus has seen large New Zealand providers and their customers unable to reach popular content delivery network (CDN) Limelight.
Limelight is used by popular game services such as Valve and Steam, as well as Microsoft’s Xbox Live. Social media sites such as LiveJournal also use Limelight.
According to a message sent out by ISP Slingshot’s support staff, the affected providers in New Zealand include itself, Telecom and Orcon. The fault prevented access to Limelight for around four days.
Orcon spokesman Duncan Blair confirmed the problem, saying the issue was with access to the Limelight CDN from the provider. As of going to press, Orcon had no estimate for when the issue would be sorted out.
Blair says that Orcon has put in a temporary workaround for the problem that gives access to Limelight content for customers, provided the ISP’s name servers are used.
Alternatively, Blair says people can use Google’s name servers as a temporary measure. By doing so, users will connect to Limelight’s servers in the United States and not Australia and New Zealand, thus bypassing the routing fault.
Content Delivery Networks such as Limelight and Akamai are used by popular Internet sites to improve performance as well as to reduce traffic congestion by serving up content from servers geographically close to users.
Optus was contacted by Computerworld for comment, but didn’t respond.