I think the only place that has more XT bashing at the moment than the mainstream media is FaceBook.  Appears the in thing to do is post ‘I hate XT’ or any deviation.  A witty link to something else topical helps, but doesn’t appear compulsory.  FaceBook fan pages, status updates, and links to TradeMe auctions about XT lemons. It’s all the rage this week.

Interesting to see the extent really, since unlike something like power supply in New Zealand, we actually have choice when it comes to mobile networks.   Yes they all rip us off (well I guess 2 Degrees is at least trying to help there), and yes the interconnect/termination rate is WAY WAY to high, BUT we actually have simple portability (you can take your # with you if you swap networks) and as has already been identified, NZ has one of the highest rates of people having 2 mobiles (aka 2 different networks).   Anyway .. lets explore this some more:

Before I go any further I should disclose some things:  I have used both Vodafone and Telecom for over 10 years, both on for most of that contract.  I only recently turned my voda sim into a prepay (since they FINALLY let people keep the # when this happens).  Now I use XT exclusively (except when travelling overseas, coz data roaming is a RIP OFF).  And .. I THINK XT ROCKS.  Yep, it does (well IMHO).  When it works (no giggles please), it IS the best mobile network in NZ.  Far faster data speed, true 3G 100% of the places it has coverage (unlike Vodafone).  In fact I support XT for TWO reasons:

  1. XT is a better network (alright, when it works, stop with that talk OK?)
  2. Telecom is #2 behind Vodaphone in NZ in the mobile market. I noticed a few years after Voda becomes #1 they started acting arrogant and customer service dropped (IMHO), so I left them.  I like supporting #2 – it keeps #1 honest!

The XT Outage some reasons

As I have blogged before, I think Telecom made a MAJOR mistake when going down the CDMA path years ago.  For those that missed it, their other network is CDMA, which is incompatible with their flagship XT network.

This normally wouldn’t be too much of any issue, after all they have fixed this issue by building a new network.  BUT, and here’s the catch – by not having another network that XT can fall back on means when it goes wrong, it goes wrong BIG TIME.  Vodafone’s 3G network regularly fails (Vodafone won’t admit this too often publicly of course) – but people often just wouldn’t notice – calls may not go thru so well, data would be rather slow, but it would WORK.   So the decision not to go the GSM route in step 1 years ago is still haunting Telecom.  Because no matter what they do the network WILL fail every now and again, and with no back up that means people find out rather quick.

It’s interesting that Telcom and Alcatel still cant say exactly what the issue is.  To me this shows there are MAJOR network issues, and LOTS of work to do here.  Maybe Alcatel wasn’t the right provider?  This may yet prove true, but we will not know for another 6 months or so.

The short term effect

For Telecom: Lower share price, pissed off customers, a PR disaster, and a hell of a lot of stress for staff at all levels in Telecom.

For the Consumer: Still some uncertainly around reliability, but cheaper pricing as Teelcom using this to hold clients.

The long term effects

For Telecom: As long as they can fix this (and I am 80% certain they can), then this will just be a BLIP in Telecom’s record.  They will use what every Telco does to get customers – price and deals. 

For the Consumer: Not a lot UNLESS this particular issue effects the Telecommunications Ministers decision around setting termination rates.  If it does it will be GOOD for the consumer.

What I think of the media/public reaction

I think individuals have quite rightly been annoyed, but some of the reactions show people are just STUPID.  As explained in a previous post, if your phone is out for 3 days, and it’s critical for your business, got get a $2 sim from another network, and get all calls diverted to that number.  A 10 minutes/$2 fix!   Hell, even if it’s NOT that important you get calls, do that anyway and I am 100% certain Telecom will reimburse you for the diversion (if they don’t contact me, and I will show you how to get it from the Disputes Tribunal – open and shut case really).

I think the media just love to beat up Telecom here and some of what they say is just rubbish.  Trying to link the XT failure to someone being beaten up in a mall is a low bow to draw!  I have an easy solution here – since there were other people around, yell out “hey mate, is your phone working .. call 111″ or “Hey, can I borrow your phone to call 111″.  Get real!    Telecom is like major banks – everyone loves to hate them, so sure they are fair game.  And yes, they do bring it on themselves in part because they are still acting like a monopoly (or a duopoly where that applies) and fight to keep what part of their business get supernormal profits.

UPDATE: Regardless of how easy a target Telecom is, the part of the Network failing isnt the backbone of NZ’s telco – its ONE of our MANY mobile networks.  Even teh talk of “111 calls cant get thru” well DUH, no calls can. This isn’t a 111 Failure, it’s a failure of ONE mobile network (even Teleocm has two networks!).  The media should check their facts – Telecom has the role to answer 111 calls not run a mobile network to allow people to call it!  What did we do in the 80s when we needed to use 111?  We knocked on the nearest house and say “Hi, there is an emergency, can you please call 111″.

Update 2: Apparently the guy who was involved in the 111 issue was in a location that had a phone box right next to the incident.  How come the Press didn’t report that?

What I think of Telecom’s response

In brief, their compensation has been fair and balanced, and the CE’s commitment and fronting up has been good.

They still haven’t FIXED it, and the hard question of should they have bought Alcatel in the first place is a question that they needs to asked.  IN fact the only question I have in my mind is Is the Alcatel XT Network up to the task? Because if it’s NOT, and it can’t be fixed then Telecom DO have a MAJOR issue and probably a rather large lawsuit on their hands!  That’s the bit I will be interested to follow.   Seeing another wingey FaceBook post, not so.


A rather long post today!  So the short version?

Black and White Version: XT outages are annoying, but some need some perspective.  And XT still ROCKS! (just with a few speed bumps)

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