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Hard and Fast


2Degrees prepay price change

By Antonios Karantze, in , posted: 21-Jul-2012 20:13

I noticed on a tweet (from Steve Biddle, of Biddlecorp) that 2Degrees had changed it's pricing for texting between 2D mobiles.... see here....

http://www.2degreesmobile.co.nz/prepay/topping-up/top-up-and-get

The key sentence being:
**From 6th August 2012 our standard 9 cent text rate will apply to all 2degrees to 2degrees texts.

Fair enough: 2c is an attractive rate but not really one to make profit on, and 9c is still a good rate anyway. With the continuing massive shift towards Mobile Data and WIFI Offload (where you use wifi instead of the carriers mobile network), the use of Apps to communicate means that texting will be going the way of Voice over the next 3 years.

That you get 300 texts bundled in when you make a $30 topup means that most people will never see a charge for texting anyway.

While the 'topup and get' offer remains, and this is the rub for me.

My grumpy moment comes from how I learned of the change. A tweet, from someone I happened to have connected to. Hardly the most common channel of communication.

2Degrees of course are entitled to make changes; they need to make money after all, and it's covered in their T's and C's:

"Notices and Changes to this Agreement and our Plans
(a) We may change this Agreement and/or vary any Service at any time.
(b) Changes will be published on www.2degreesmobile.co.nz. Please check www.2degreesmobile.co.nz regularly for updates as continuing to use the Services after changes have been published will mean that you agree to this Agreement as amended.
(c) We will give you at least 10 working days prior notice, and where possible we will try and give you 30 days prior notice, if any changes we make materially increase our charges or materially reduce the elements of a Service you are using or change this Agreement so that it has a material detrimental effect on you. We will notify you of these changes by publishing them on www.2degreesmobile.co.nz."

Good on them for stating what their policy is, and how they will do it. 

Of course, publishing price changes to the website and classing that as 'giving me notice' is a bit on the nose; if any other service provider like Telecom, Vodafone or TelstraClear, bank, power company or Council took that approach they would feel customer wrath pretty quickly.

I'm guessing there's a bulk email to the customer base coming in the next 5 days (I hope so) from 2Degrees, where they standup and  state 'we've changed the price, and it's gone up'. I really hope that 'we published on the website' doesn't become a way of working, because it's a pretty naff way of treating your customer.

I'm fully expecting that the bundle pricing will change again and continue to become less generous; that's a common market strategy (low prices to attract, end the offer and replace with one that's not so good and hope switching inertia does the rest) I've seen and executed before.

The consolidation and change in the NZ telco industry has only just started; more price changes are coming across the board, and not always downward.

EDIT: Forgot to add, I am a 2Degrees subscriber for voice and data, hence my personal interest!



Consolidation (“and then there were fewer”)

By Antonios Karantze, in , posted: 14-Jun-2012 19:57

Last week brought the surprise announcement, forced by the power of Twitter (some folks generating themselves some activity) that Vodafone was in talks with Telstra, to acquire TelstraClear. I found the coverage at National Business Review fairly balanced, with the a different take on the move coming from The Dominion Post. I certainly won't forget the events of that Tuesday - confirmation of the many rumours that swirl the industry, combined with interesting timing of calls and texts before and afterwards.

Regardless of what happens, the move signals the beginning of another consolidation round, where the biggest companies move to acquire some of the smaller ones (directly or indirectly in the industry), and so seek to gain some advantage for the next 5 years and make some money. Certainly the ISP landscape has fragmented, and the small ones are busy trying to create ways of standing out from the crowd, although most of the activity is price related rather than much genuine improvement over what's on offer. The most interesting recent move was Maxnet and their "Global Mode" feature, trying to overcome the technology around geolocation preventing users from accessing foreign content, with BBC iPlayer standing out in my mind. That barely got off the ground before being shuttered, and I was left wondering at the overally legality of offering a commercial service that actively assisted in circumventing media rights barriers.. guess we'll never know.

Consolidation happens where a market has too many competitors, and the opportunity for new sales is replaced with one company taking the customer's of the other. The NZ broadband is in this place now, with many players all contesting for the same customer base - there aren't that many new broadband sales to be had - using the levers of price, or increased elements inside a bundle ("$99 for 1TB of Internet data, knock your socks off!!!"). This creates a lot of choice, but as the growth comes from ever decreasing prices, or ever increasing costs for no new revenue - well, something has got to give. Inevitably this leads to Merger & Acquisition, where one company acquires or merges with another, pools it's new resources (technology, infrastructure, people, plant), combines it's increased customer base and seeks to gain new revenue from somewhere else.

I'm often amazed at how much speculation there has been around the future of 2Degrees, and that acquisition is almost certainly it's future - that's a pretty damning pronouncement on the future of a business and the energy that has gone into creating it. Yet fundamentally even the 2D folks know they can't keep spending money indefinetly trying to keep up with Telecom and Vodafone, on pricing that is dropping every 6 months. The cost of new technology is not dropping - it keeps going up - and the cost of your overheads (people, plant, machinery) does'nt go down either.

TelstraClear was born from an earlier amalgam of TelstraSaturn, which was born from Telstra acquiring Saturn. Vodafone acquired iHug a few years ago. Quicksilver was acquired by Woosh. Kordia acquired Orcon. Orcon acquired Bizo. On it goes. For a small country, NZ technology sees a fair share of acquisition and merger activity, and is going to see a lot more in the next 3 years, as the industry grapples with a world where - almost - everybody has to use the same fibre network to deliver voice, internet and entertainment, but where the innovation disappears from the plumbing and is replaced with the quality of the call centre, the capability of the consulting staff, the physical reach of regional offices and local people, and how to generate new revenues to stay in business.

Fundamentally, NZ will still have about 4,5m people. The global economy and the debt levels of the western world will still loom over everything we do. Numpties will continue to operate in whatever government is in charge and create fleeting, media sensation. People will still complain that Internet is too expensive, and that it should be just a monthly charge so they don't have to worry about unexpected big bills - or even regulate their own activity, consuming as much as they possibly can. Big NZ companies will be accused of gouging customers and making too much money. New entrants will enter the market again and seek to undercut the big players, winning a little business by virtue of being someone new and not encumbered with the investments of the past.

And in another 5 years, we will look on in amazement when the next consolidation round occurs.



Introducing the Hot New Social Network (updated!)

By Antonios Karantze, in , posted: 24-May-2012 08:55

PhoneBook (Allows User to Call Friends, Speak to Them)

PhoneBook 

SILICON VALLEY (The Borowitz Report) – A new social network is about to alter the playing field of the social media world, and it’s called PhoneBook.

According to its creators, who invented the network in their dorm room at Berkeley, PhoneBook is the game-changer that will leave Facebook, Twitter and Foursquare in a cloud of dust.

“With PhoneBook, you have a book that has a list of all your friends in the city, plus everyone else who lives there,” says Danny Fruber, one of PhoneBook’s creators.

“When you want to chat with a friend, you look them up in PhoneBook, and find their unique PhoneBook number,” Fruber explains.  “Then you enter that number into your phone and it connects you directly to them.”

Another breakout utility of PhoneBook allows the user to arrange face-to-face meetings with his or her friends at restaurants, bars, and other “places,” as Fruber calls them.

“You will be sitting right across from your friend and seeing them in 3-D,” he said.  “It’s like Skype, only without the headset.”

PhoneBook will enable friends to play many games as well, such as charades, cards, and a game Fruber believes will be a breakout: Farm.
“In Farm, you have an actual farm where you raise real crops and livestock,” he says.  “It’s hard work, but it’s more fun than Mafia, where you actually get killed.”

Original article posted at Borowitz Report. This guys stuff is funny....

And I added the picture from the latest Simpsons episode, 'How I Wet Your Mother'. Sharp as a sharp thing

 



Support

By Antonios Karantze, in , posted: 4-Jan-2012 22:14

For some time now, I've been working through in my mind how the NZ market will change as a result of UFB. In this case, UFB being used as a proxy word for a high-quality, widely available and reliable carriage network for data service - Voice, Video, Internet, Connection - and not the grand project being sponsored by Government. The closest to this definition NZ has had is the TelstraClear cable network in Kapiti, Wellington and Christchurch (not exactly 'widely' available), and to a lesser degree the fibre network FX Networks have been aggressively pushing out until recently (mainly supplied to high value Business and Wholesale customers, with some residential connections).

I've been doing this, because top of my mind is how the service experience will change for all consumers. The old concept of a phone 'master socket' on which sat your telephone, and possibly a broadband connection in another room near the computer, becomes one where everyone will have at least ONE router-like device - complete with detached power brick of a sort - to which your phone and other widgets must connect. I recently wrote an article about this in November, when I had the opportunity to upgrade the electrical wiring in the house, and chose instead to go the wireless route. Much of the comment I got was how useless wireless is for streaming 1080p content, which I find funny as even as recently as 3 years ago it would not have been easy to get even 100mbps around the house before 802.11n came out. For the 100mbps trial I was on last year, equipment was required to go that fast across a wide range of devices.

All of this really got me thinking about the absolutely fundamental role CPE - Premises Equipment - plays in getting a good quality experience. CPE is a jargon term the telco industry uses for the kit you use at your place - either on loan (like T-Box, Sky Box, Cable Modems), sold or given to you (so many DSL modems) or independently purchased (Apple Extreme wifi routers). All have to connect and support what you want to do. It's here that your opinion is ultimately formed on how good or bad something is, and the level of support you get in resolution and stability.

The mobile world has been set alight by Samsung's decision to not release Android 4.0 for anything other than their most recent devices - the Galaxy S2 but not the original - for basic performance reasons. Galaxy S doesn't have the technical chops for the job - but I suspect it's more to do with the burden of future support. For those with long memories, when Apple released iOS4 for the older iPhone 3 and 3GS, the iPhone3 ran so slow it appeared to stop. It was a mistake to release for that device, but I guess folks didn't want to make a large part of the base feel unloved. Unfortunately the software was so rubbish, the base DID feel unloved.

Such is the march of technology - been here before with Windows, where each release requires a machine with 4x the power of what you have now just to look and feel ok. Except of course, for most people a PC isn't that personal, and very few people actually upgrade a PC with a new OS, preferring a new PC - something which is trickier with mobiles, which are usually tied to 2-year carrier contracts.

In a world where fibre comes from Chorus and has uniform performance - and will usually cost from $40/month before performance, CPI and other 'innovations' start increasing the monthly cost - how does a service provider differentiate themselves?

Internet pricing - well, more web things are going 'unmetered', and pricing continues to drop to the point where a monthly price approaches a flat monthly fee.
Voice pricing - how much lower can these get across fixed and mobile? people don't talk much these days - they use the Internet, and so many phones have onboard WIFI that they can auto-switch to your home wireless and not use the pricy 'mobile data' rates.

That leaves what you are going to use these cool new things for. The CPE you attach and your interaction with it and the fundamental importance not only of getting stuff out, but supporting it, debugging it and improving it.

It's what your mobile device will or already connects to via WIFI. It's what your PC, your PS3 or Xbox will connect to, it's where your computer and probably your TV will connect to. The CPE that is your 'gateway' to the world.

Orcon found this out with the 'Genius' - Geekzone has numerous threads of complaint from non-working services, to services working a different way, to disappointment at the kit not being man enough to do more. The noise appears to be going down but it's still happening. TelstraClear T-Box has taken a very long time to go from functional to mostly stable and even then there are random pockets where the experience isn't acceptable. I have no knowledge on Vodafone's 'EasyOffice' - although I expect for some it's been anything but Easy - and for many customers on UCLL in general, they probably aren't getting the best they could (See Mr Biddle's excellent article here). I still see people lodging basic comments on not knowing which type of modem to get for DSL, how to configure basic settings for wireless access as well as locking down the firewall - and it's 2012, 6 years after the NZ broadband market heated up.

CPE support - and how it works with the service providers - has to change, and it has to do so for the whole market. What this means is that support has to cover the ubergeeks - those who rip and replace software on devices with their own (a bit like car enthusiasts changing the engine of a car to get better performance - which means you're off the grid for support), to geeks (those who fiddle at the edges and go for minor enhancements here and there), to disinterested users (the bulk of the country), to completely uninterested users (for example, those still using the CDMA phone they purchased in 2003 and won't upgrade until the network is off.).

Support as the next big thing that will emerge very quickly when the first fibre connections are made, and people suddenly REALLY discover what UFB means.

And I think only Apple is even remotely in a position to be able to talk to the public at large with ready, friendly solutions.

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Go Wireless! End Copper

By Antonios Karantze, in , posted: 22-Nov-2011 21:20

Well, I was faced with an interesting conundrum last week.

My internet is with TelstraClear, and it comes in downstairs. The network is attached to the house at the corner closest to the street pole. which means I have limited option for upstairs internet service, where the most demand comes from. Today it's served by WIFI, with varying results.

So I had the opportunity to put in high quality wiring from downstairs to upstairs, in that some renovations are going on and the floorboards are up. What better possible time, right?

Except for the quote, which came back at about $1.2k. Seriously. From 2 electricians. 2x 75m CAT6 runs.

I could endeavour to do it myself, but I genuinely don't have the time or the useful tools to achieve that without scrapped knuckles and banged head (time in roof space is required). which forced me to stop and reconsider.

Why do I need this?

$1200 would buy a very nice set of wireless equipment - if I knew what had the best punch/performance and so on. I don't, which means either taking brand risks (Apple's gotta be good, right?) or lots of time googling different kit. The reason I ask is because nearly every widget in the house - except tellingly, my PSTN line and TV services - have wifi built-in. Every 6 months is an improvement in chip performance and technology in market.

Why do I need premises wiring?

UFB is going to bring fibre and powered IAD into everyone's house. As part of my job, I've been thinking through the inhome experience UFB brings, and how to get quality internet out there for all to use. It boils down to 3 simple things:

1. Tidy and effective termination of fibre/iad. Hope Chorus and co spend some of the $1,4bn on on this item!

2. Quality testing and recommendation of high-performance wireless gear for in premises. Caveat Emptor need not be the case - any SP worth their salt should recommend quality over cheap.

3. Services for this modern environment - which means PSTN de-coupled from the line or jackpoint. Sometimes known as VOIP, but giving ME the option to control, not the SP determining a POTS port on an IAD is acceptable.

The technology fraternity 'kindof' gets this - but what's the point if this technology is the preserve of the interested? the elements above need to be ready for the mass market, who don't care about solution elegance but that it works - and technologists frequently forget that when they spout off about something being easy or old tech. If it were easy - your mum could tell you how to do it.

So roll on wireless - roll on the reduction of trailing wiring, of endless house work, in favour of the beauty of the ethereal.. wireless...

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A better class of service

By Antonios Karantze, in , posted: 15-Aug-2011 21:02

Well, the wild weather extremes over the last couple of months has certainly had me thinking.

For some time now, I've been working through in my mind how I expect to see NZ communications change over the next ten years, and what needs to be put into place by the service provider(s) to make that happen. While some of these points may seem amusing or absolute common sense to the lay observer, or geek, what needs to be recognised by the reader is that NOTHING is to be taken for granted, or that 'of course it will happen'.

Anyone who spends time writing business cases or convincing others around them of the importance of pursuing an action will be familiar with this. For example, to provide fibre for the purpose of faster networking seems common sense. After all, the technology is suited to it and has been proven in other countries. Of course the Government should provide it, after all its for the good of the country, right?

The sums involved are tiny in the great scheme of countries and time. Of course, for those who live in the here and now, that's money not available for anything else sensible or useful. Like upgrading basic power generation, transmission, distribution and storage.

Tonight, the power at home has been fluctuating wildly. My technology has been reset and spiked so many times I'm amazed nothing has shorted out. I am grateful the heating is still running - grateful that the bods at the electricity company are doing their best.

But what has become abundantly clear, once it has been taken away, is the absolute and unremitting reliance on Internet. Should the weather prevail tomorrow, I may not be at work - and neither will the people I work with. Meetings disrupted, critical information unavailable or severely restricted. Sure, my POTS line continues to work, but as I don't suffer an emergency every other day it's redundant unless I pair it with the Remote Office functions of my VOIP line - after all, people call me at my work number, not at home.

And before the mobile zealots jump in - where I live is utterly atrocious performance for Vodafone. I have lodged faults complaining of basic performance and coverage and been met with the immortal line of the disconnected, "coverage is the best we can make it, function of technology and topology, adverse terrain blah blah blah". Twaddle of course - had the techs ACTUALLY driven my route and surveyed it themselves, they would see that the network has lost it's tuning and is performing poorly. The devices I use are highly capable of running applications independent of the mobile network. 2degrees, vodafone, telecom - welcome to that world where you really are replaceable but for the specials you provide on DEVICES.

Even if it where running well - well, I don't want a microwave next to my head anymore. I have no need for it. I dislike using my DECT gear, but I prefer the low-power of that to the happiness that is a 3G mobile. Good for email and texting.

But where i work, it's the Internet. Always the Internet. The mobiles I use are internet connected - for email and applications. Using 3G is a painful, uninspiring chore. I'm pleased the widgets have gotten to the point of being so capable, and this is the first of my 2 points in this blog:

1. The device IS the experience
As we know the selection on the market is astronomic. Which one is the right one to use?

Tonight I had to get Skype going, for the very real actual purpose of communicating face to face. I gave up on my PC gear and used the Mac - and it worked first time, very well, even with a low-grade camera. My wife, many of my colleagues and acquaintance's - they do ask my view/opinion of gear, as 'someone' who will  know and have a view - and they know I have a view.

But as my wife points out, there is no way she would talk to the boys in Dick Smith, Noel Leeming, Harvey Norman etc - the atmosphere is intimidating, the techniques for selling visible and shameful, the actual help in many cases just utter rubbish. It reminds of dodgy car salesmen at times.

Yet. in the UFB world, DEVICES are KING. In the UFB world, who cares really about who provides the POTS line or Internet? the fibre after all comes from one company. The weakest link in today's industry (Telecom Copper) will be the only game in town soon enough (TeleChorus Fibre). After that, the differentiator is internet and call plans, and the quality of customer service/service reliability. What's left, except the widgets with which you use your ufb?

Which then leads to the 2nd and last point.

2. POWER.
An interesting point I heard from a Chorus chappie after the Feb 22nd earthquake was their absolute drive to restore Mobile for basic comms only, and Internet primarily - because most people wanted to visit the Civil Defence website, and NOT disrupt the work the humans were doing. Internet was more important - and many people struggled with the lack of power, as we know, for a great many basic necessities, like heating and communication.

Fibre is connected to your property at a termination point, then connected to a device referred to as a NID (Network Interface Device), NTU (Network Terminating Unit), IAD (Integrated Access Device), ONT (Optical Network Terminator) or other such acronym. They all do roughly the same thing: turn the light signals on fibre into electrical signals for use by your equipment. This device needs power - not a lot, but it does need it. And it needs to come from you, unless somebody has managed to convert the light to useful energy... So there is link 1, needing a feed.

Link 2: Highly likely you will have some unit from your service provider, which will supply you options of WIFI, VOICE, IPTV or similar content, Internet. whatever innovation emerges. Another feed point needing power.

As these 2 units provide critical services, they should get support power - both to protect against outage and provide respectable runtime - 3-7 hours in my view.

And that's it.

DEVICES
POWER

Both replacing the PSTN as a the base network, with Internet as the base upon which which all else is built. And that is where everyone must strive to succeed - securing the internet end to end, so that it all. just works.



The race to 100mb Internet (part 3): All Good Things....

By Antonios Karantze, in , posted: 25-Jan-2011 19:39

So, I've been notified that the 100mb trial that TelstraClear has running in Wellington is due to finish at the end of January 2011, and I have given some feedback around what I thought the service was good for:

1. iTunes
2. YouTube HD Video
3. The ever-present Microsoft and Apple patchs, regular and clockwork and flippin enormous every time
4. Virtual working (Citrix, VMWare and so on), due to the need for LOW latency.

I also found a useful extra which I thought were quite good:

Plays For Sure content. Over xmas, my kids got some DVD's they wanted to watch on dad's iPod. These DVD's came with the option to get a digital version that works across a number of widgets.

Each DVD has a unique 500-number key, but once entered correctly you get to DOWNLOAD a new file that gets deposited in your library (iTunes in my case). Each movie is high-qual, scales from iPod to 24" monitor without artifacting. and is 1.25GB in size.

In my previous article, I discussed 'Always On' - the concept whereby you can always get what you want, with blistering speed (http://www.geekzone.co.nz/antoniosk/7513). This was one of those times that speed mattered - and the movies just flew down. I have also downloaded a few hefty album CD's, which come replete with Video Singles - fantastic, beautifally encoded content that looks the biz. And boy does it burn the GB's.

I don't really care that this doesn't have 'GEEK' appeal; I am well capable of finding filched content like most people, but I choose not to, because the experience is just so poor - and to what end? I've got friends that try to get the latest movies which have been camcorded from the theatre and sent out on the torrents... oooo, now there's something I'd like to share, dodgy video with people coughing in the background. Fun.

It reminds me of watching the cricket at the basin by climbing the trees; sure, you got away without a ticket, but it was a pain in the bum (literally) and ultimately not that enjoyable.

100mb is not fibre. fibre is a technology that could be used to deliver high speed connections, of which internet is one possibility, but which also allows high-grade video, high quality voice, multiple call lines into a premises and so on. But fibre means new powered equipment in the premises, video-capable devices (do YOU see a camera on your TV?), new computers, and upgrades.

Yet on the whole, this is becoming more frequent. Mobiles turnover pretty fast, and they come with a huge range of built-in capability. My mobile is 4 years old (really), and if I ever get another I know it's replacement will be 10x better than what it can do now. It will be replaced when it finally dies, by necessity, like nearly all mobiles (and judging by performance, that's about 5 weeks away). My computer is also 4 years old - an eternity in technology lifecycle. The next generation of consoles - Playstation 4, Wii 2, Xbox 720, whatever - will all be wifi'd to an inch of their life, ready for high-speed internet in the home.

Yet we wring our hands over what a change in network technology will do. Therein lies the rub, and it's not the show-stopper people make it out to be. Sure, as a world we got used to having landlines that were powered from the exchange, meaning we could make a 111 call in a power outage. Many of these folks will also have DECT phones which need mains to run, and even more people in younger demographics go mobile only - battery powered. So what we actually got used to was ALWAYS ON; the comfort that came with knowing you could make an emergency call, should you need to. THAT is what needs to be worked on - not what can go wrong, but how we turn the change into opportunity, and just get on with it.

Thankfully, some companies are. Others are working towards getting on with it. But get on with it we should. Where there are services already, people should sell. The metro areas of the main cities I believe are pretty well served, even if many the telco's have a poor to abysmal public record of delivery. It is for those areas that don't have choice where there are lots of people that next energies should go: Greater Auckland and Waikato. Hawkes Bay certainly. Taranaki too. Manawatu seems to have some choice. Greater Canterbury certainly needs some now. Otago/Queenstown and Southland.

I read a great quote the other day:
Amateurs talk about making change. The achievers just get on and do it, day by day.

Roll on!



The Race to 100 Mbps (part 2): Always On

By Antonios Karantze, in , posted: 23-Dec-2010 15:44

In the late 90's the telco industry was going through another round of uber-investment to install GPRS networks for Mobile Data, ahead of forthcoming torrent of money that would be unleashed when 3G finally rolled round. An over-used term at the time was 'Always-On', which was meant to be a soundbite summarising why mobile data is important. Today we would never question the concept: a mobile without access to the internet? Oh yeah, it's only $1/mb etc, doesn't feel like my prepay goes down that fast.

Way back when, these concepts were analysed in depth, at length, and serious money was spent verifying whether always-on was relevant, and would the public at large comprehend the whole MB charging concept???

At the time, the only application that was 'Always-on' was your voice and text messaging service. The voice and text 'app' were embedded in the phone, were a core part of how it worked, and were not considered an 'app' at all, as it just came with the phone.

I bring this up in terms of context for the High Speed Internet service I am using, on TelstraClear's cable network, in Wellington. The speed is running at 100mbps download and 10mbps upload, maximum. See earlier comments here http://www.geekzone.co.nz/blogentry.asp?postid=7494

A while ago I was asked what 100mbps was good for. And just like those early days of GPRS, I thought about finding an application or use case expression... and failed dismally, because that's not the way to view the opportunity.

The pace in the western world is accelerating. Information is more readily available, in more forms, quicker than ever before. Perhaps it is hard to digest. Or perhaps we just to expand how we use our brains and learn to filter more effectively, or listen to others and get their view. But, it's not going to slow down. Information will not decrease. Live with it.

So to quote an overused expression, we have to 'suck it up'.

And in that respect: i don't want to wait, and I don't want to compromise what I do get. A 15mbps connection on TelstraClear cable is pretty good. You can download an average quality YouTube clip in semi reasonable time.

But what brought 100mbps home for me, was watching my daughters explore YouTube and download High Definition content as the default, not the fallback. I hate grainy movies and poor quality audio - I don't have time for it. Huge downloads are a pain when your link is slow, and irrelevant when it only takes seconds.

'Glee' gets a good amount of airtime here. If you can tolerate the stageshow nature of the programme - I enjoy musicals, so no problem for me - the different is amazing (720 vs 360) when you upscale and go fullscreen, especially to a large TV.

360p

720

It also veritably FLIES down, starting to exercise the Youtube cache that TelstraClear put in a little while ago.

Hardly stuff that's going to add another $100bn or so to the NZ economy. Parking the hyperbole, faster speed does lead to new experiences, and that's what it's about at the end of the day.

With speeds like this becoming widely available, paired with a high-qaulity wireless router (like an Airport Extreme, which I think works brilliantly), the 'concept' of always-on for wireless widget (ipods, smartphones, ipads) as well as streaming content to a TV from the web - well it's all just there. You STOP having to make a cup of tea wanting for the content.

You just get on with it.

More coming after the xmas break... have a good holiday, wonderful surfing and enjoy the sun....



The race to 100 meg Internet (part 1)

By Antonios Karantze, in , posted: 12-Dec-2010 21:48

Disclosure: I work for TelstraClear, in product development and strategy.

In marketing & management vernacular this would be the familiar terms of 'early adopter', 'leading edge' and 'pioneer'. I particularly like 'pioneer' - it conjures the image of a hard man in a strange place, almost alone, and making things work because they have to. The number 8 fencing wire myth of how New Zealand was made in particular resonates with the image. Ringing in my mind to this day though, is a quote I heard while studying at University, about why IBM were never pioneers in a technology.

The quip that came back was that 'pioneers were the one's with arrows in their ar*e', and that IBM chose to follow in the early footsteps of pioneers so they could make things 'go large' to use another term familiar to New Zealanders about success.

I like to think I'm a man of firsts. If not in carving out raw wilderness - my house has a wild enough section to keep me occupied for some time - then certainly in the area of technology and communication services. That's Mobile, VOIP, Internet, TVoverIP and so on, in common terms. And if not a pioneer - I look for help as much as the next person - then certainly someone focused on moving from the old to the new, in a very large way.

So the Governments' first announcements for UFB were interesting; Northpower and WEL. I worked on an early TCL project to use Northpower's fibre network, the first services of which went to market in November 2008.  These guys are definitely focused on more fibre, so was an easy first win for the crown. The next was watching the announcements on bandwidth and the art of the possible, for residential and business customers. and the more mundane first products CFH has announced (30/10, 100/50 and 1/1Gbps), all with a min bandwidth of 2.5CIR.

I recently joined the 100/10 mb/s trial service that TCL is running, for those with access to the HFC network. I changed from the Lightspeed40g 15/2 package, which most HFC customers got in the price change implemented on October 1. The data cap is set at 120gb, and so far I have used. 6GB. Some weeks prior I was asked what 100mb is actually good for; what does it enable that the current speeds don't; and what are people likely to ask for? Being able to say 'I have tried; I have researched; I have discovered; I can comment' based on the real-world, rather than the lab, is invaluable. To use a sporting metaphor, it's easy to read the theory on playing football, but at some point you need to get in the field and kick the ball.

So first things first: getting connected, which was easy. I replaced the old Motorola standup surfboard modem with the new Cisco DPC3010, which is a lay flat, and quite tiny by comparison (15x14x3cm). It comes with 1 GigE WAN port, USB2 data port and of course the F-Connector to connect to the cable network. The unit is in an 'entertainment' cabinet but has about 20cm of ventilation above it - and it needs it. The heat from the unit is noticeable, like most Cisco gear I've ever used.

IMG_1369

This unit is connected to a modern 802.11n wireless router. The router/switch equipment is HUGELY important when it comes to high speed internet - not least of which, the wireless device you use. The configuration of WIFI+Internet can't be ignored - and the way WIFI works doesn't easily matchup with how wired Internet works.

The main issue is error correction and speed. 802.11g router's are sold as "up to 54mbps", which is technically accurate. But this is 54mbps for the wireless link, and most of that bandwidth is chewed up in error correction - so you'll get about 20mbps clear to your computer by the time you're done.

802.11n increases this threshold to about 150mbps in the air - but of course, both device and access point need to be compatible, and you need to be sure they aren't too far apart. The further apart devices are, the weaker the signal, the greater the error correction and reprocessing. we haven't moved that far away from the basic principles of radio: poor signal = poor quality. Running a speedtest here, I get consistent reports of 90mbps wired, and between 30-50mbps over WIFI 802.11n.

So far I haven't said a word about what 100mb would be good for. When I was asked my opinion way back when, here's what I said:

1. Big-draw items, like iTunes, Skype HD Video, Torrent websites and other streaming media like Youtube or IPTV like Ziln, although pipe speed is just one factor
2. Point to multipoint video
3. Any work involving large file transfers (Microsoft Patch Tuesday anyone??)
4. Hosted work involving Citrix, VMWare and other machines within machines. Not because of the bandwidth, but because of improved latency - a 100mb connection will almost certainly operate with very low latency, on high-grunt infrastructure.

and of course the old stalwart of the technology industry. 'applications we've yet to imagine but for which 100mb will be great'. or 'build it and the apps will come'.

So what have I found?

1/ My iTunes does download content faster. Purchased music just sounds better to me - the audio levels are balanced, the albums are complete, and the format works brilliantly for my iPod. Of course, my 4-year old PC still takes an age to churn through what I've downloaded and present it to me - my 100mb internet hasn't made my computer any faster!

2/ Citrix and VMWare run a lot more snappily for me.

3/ The web runs as fast as it ever did, although Microsoft and Apple patchfiles do get delivered faster.

I'm keen to better see where this capability leads. A burst speed of 100mb in isolation is interesting but a little early - the Interweb's services are not scaled or dimensioned for a general population wanting to communicate at 100mb (more like 1mb). Sustained speed and latency would be intriguing - watching Apple movie trailers at 1080p was actually possible tonight (these files are around 200mb in size and take an age to download even on good quality low-speed).

When the plumbing layer gets to the point where the speed is not an issue. great, not before time. Moving to the next step - turning over solid, reliable and consistent services - now that will be a good move.

Comments welcome. I don't know where this technology will take us - but I'm interested to hear what others have to say.



Telecom sells Consumer part of AAPT

By Antonios Karantze, in , posted: 30-Jul-2010 16:21

Telecom has announced the sale of part of Australian unit AAPT to rival iiNet for A$60 million ($75 million), confirming speculation it was unable to conclude its preferred deal to sell the whole company.
As well as selling AAPT's consumer division, Telecom said it had sold AAPT's 18.2 per cent stake in iiNet to institutional investors for A$70 million, A$11 million less than its carrying value as at June 30.
Combined with the proceeds from its sale of 10.1 per cent of Macquarie Telecom announced yesterday, the deals will realise about A$140 million.
Telecom had reportedly been seeking more than $400 million for AAPT as a going concern.
It will now concentrate on running AAPT's fibre network and the wholesale and business divisions, it said.
The sale of the consumer unit will reduce 2011 forecast earnings for AAPT by A$10 million, Telecom said.
AAPT was expecting earnings of A$101.3 million for the year to June.
Telecom CEO, Paul Reynolds, said: "Together these transactions rationalise non-core assets, strengthen Telecom's financial position, and help reposition AAPT's operations into a focused, network-centric wholesale and corporate business that is well-positioned for future growth."
A Telecom spokesman said the company was now ''taking stock''.
''We're happy with the transactions we've made,'' he said.
''That's not to say if a good offer [for the rest of the business] was put in front of us we wouldn't look at it seriously. But having done these transactions, which we're pleased with, we'll take stock.''
The buyer of AAPT's consumer business, listed Australian telco iiNet, said it expected the acquisition to boost earnings by A$20 million in the first full year.
AAPT's 113,000 broadband subscribers and 251,000 other connections would bring its broadband customers to 652,000 and total active services to 1.3 million, it said.
iiNet will continue to buy wholesale services from AAPT.
The transaction requires approval of iiNet shareholders and an extraordinary general meeting is expected to be held in September.



antoniosk's profile

Antonios Karantze
Wellington
New Zealand


I'm a born and bred Wellingtonian, and have chosen IT and Telecommunications as my industry, as a Commercial Manager.

Credits include but are not limited to:
- The O2 Xda smartphone range, and O2's range of 3G Mobile Internet services
- Numerous TelstraClear Mobile and IP voice products

In my journey through the industry I have worked at
- Bellsouth NZ
- Telecom NZ
- ICO Global
- T-Mobile International (formerly One2One Communications)
- O2 Plc
- TelstraClear
- Vodafone NZ

I'm a fan of technology, and what it can do for people and business... and I enjoy bringing new things to market and seeing them grow. Enjoy the blog, take the time to think about what I write - it's not technology heavy, and is my reflection on life and the people around me.