Is Ernie Newman for real?

By Steve Biddle, in , posted: 25-Jun-2007 14:46

I couldn’t believe my eyes when I read the Dominion Post this morning. According to our out of touch TUANZ CEO Ernie Newman some people are paying 71c per minute for calls from landlines to mobile phones and if you’re to believe Ernie this high cost is a direct result of both Telecom and Vodafone charging excessive rates for call termination.


Termination rates are a major component of retail fixed to mobile calls and a reason we are paying silly prices of 71c per minute for a call from home to a cellphone.


Excuse my language but what the hell are you smoking Ernie?


Both Vodafone and Telecom have cut their interconnection rates considerably over the past few years and the cost of calls from landlines to mobile phones has dropped for many users. The problem has nothing to do with interconnection rates, it’s solely a case of telcos making excessive retail margins on calls from landlines to mobile phones. There are plenty of providers now offering call rates from as low as 25c per minute upwards with many customers now paying somewhere between 30c – 35c per minute for calls. Why is it that Telecom still have a base rate of 71c per minute for calls to mobiles? When this rate was set in the late 80’s the term interconnection agreement didn’t exist as their where no other toll providers and it wasn’t until the mid 90’s that you were able to make non coded calls to mobile phones using a provider other than Telecom. Off the top of my head the interconnection rates were set at around 45c per minute at this time for both Telecom and BellSouth.


I’m sorry Ernie but you’re barking up the wrong tree here and so was the Commerce Commission when they tried to enforce lower interconnection rates. Unlike mobile networks in countries without calling party pays most mobile networks in countries with CPP regard this revenue stream as a very valuable source of income. Cut these interconnection rates and mobile operators simply gather that revenue from other parts of the business by way of higher costs for mobile originated calls so at the end of the day nobody really wins. While mobile operators were forced to cut their interconnection rates there is nobody out there forcing toll providers to cut their margins on calls to mobile phones which is the precise reason Telecom can still get away with charging 71c per minute to call a mobile. Don’t go blaming Vodafone for a problem that has nothing to do with them. Vodafone argued to the Commerce Commission that lowering interconnection rates wouldn’t necessarily result in those savings being passed on to the end consumer and it’s now obvious that this is precisely what has happened. Why not start targeting individual toll providers who are charging excessive rates and who haven’t reduced their rates despite paying lower wholesale prices? They truly are the cause of the problem.



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Stuff's "News" now a year old?

By Steve Biddle, in , posted: 23-Jun-2007 07:29

I couldn't help but notice this story on Stuff today which talks about HP's new Digital Cameras with a slimming function which can apparently look like you weight 10 pounds less. The story even made the editors picks and currently appears on the front page.

That's all fine and dandy but what's so newsworthy about these cameras? HP announced them at the CES in January 2006 and these cameras have been available in the US and UK markets since September 2006. A quick Google search shows a lot of blog posts and reviews from around September and October 2006 of these cameras with most people saying the feature is average at best. Here's a couple of links describing the feature back then - Macworld gadget blog   and this blog post which has a few funny comments.

How can Fairfax possibly class a rehash of a 9 month old product release as news?

What planet is Helen Clark on?

By Steve Biddle, in , posted: 13-Jun-2007 10:51

Reading the Dom Post this morning I couldn't help but notice Helen Clark's comments in this story (which will only be valid for a week until Stuff archive their article).

Helen Clark has shunned the idea of a common currency but has suggest a compromise - a single trans-tasman telephone calling rate.


Miss Clark instead suggested closer collaboration in telecommunications markets. The key to both countries' prosperity was joining forces in areas of complementary strengths.

"My dream would be to see two trans-Tasman telecommunications markets offering one domestic rate of calling. That would be fantastic for families, business, travellers, the lot."

Yet more proof of how out of touch our Prime Minister really is.

Toll plans are already available from virtually all telecommunications providers offering bundled calling rates to NZ and Australia. Telecom's package is probably the most popular delivering residential users 6000 minutes per month to NZ or Australia for $25 per month. VoIP has also delivered more than that - it's now enabling businesses to use VoIP providers in both NZ and Australia to avoid the costs incurred using traditional PSTN solutions and deliver far greater flexibility. A business can now have both NZ and Australian telephone numbers and pay less per month that what Telecom NZ will charge you for a standard business PSTN phone line.

It's obviously she opened her mouth (yet again) without bothering to check her facts first..

Vodafone's lousy coverage - WiFi + VoIP saves the day!

By Steve Biddle, in , posted: 11-Jun-2007 21:50

I went over to Greytown for lunch yesterday. The food at the Main St Deli was sensational but Vodafone's coverage in Greytown is anything but. It's OK outdoors but inbuilding it's non existant.

Thank's to CafeNet and my VoIP enabled Nokia E65 my day was saved. I could connect to the CafeNet access point across the road at Greytown Computers and be connected with my Asterisk PBX here at home and was free to make calls - and avoid paying Vodafone! :-)

Intel D201GLY Mini ITX motherboard.

By Steve Biddle, in , posted: 1-Jun-2007 15:14

For those geeks who drool over the latest in cool tech toys you've probably read the news recently that Intel announced plans to release their first Mini ITX motherboards. The good news is that they are now available in NZ as of today.
The Intel D201GLY packs a integrated Celeron processor onto a Mini ITX board and is as cheap as chips - I was quoted a price today of just on $150 + GST for the system with 512MB RAM. Via have essentially had the mini ITX market to themselves for a long time and have traditionally had lower powered processors on their boards. Something like this Intel board would be fantatic for anybody who wants to play with embedded systems or even put a cool CarPC in your boot!

BP got pwned again.

By Steve Biddle, in , posted: 29-May-2007 17:06

Following on from my post yesterday BP Raises petrol prices by 8c per litre and rips of Kiwi motorists (again) my prediction that BP's 8c price increase was completely unsubstanciated has yet again been proven correct. They have been hung out to dry by the other major fuel companies who this afternoon raised their prices by 5c per litre to 156.9 forcing BP to cut their price by 3c per litre to match them. This is exactly the type of games BP have been playing over the past 3 weeks and follows on from my post last week about BP getting pwned.

Has anybody also noticed how the AA always used to criticise fuel price increases until BP started being the main culprit? It's obviously pure coincidence that around the same time as this BP hopped into bed with the AA. In the old days George Fairbain from the AA would be out accusing the fuel companies of ripping off customers. Now that it's their partner you hear very little..

I'm reckon everybody should boycott BP, it least it would send Peter Griffiths a blunt message that consumers don't want to be ripped off...Looking at it from another perspective  however maybe the fact that so many dumb consumers are happy to pay 8c per litlre more for fuel is all the proof they need that there is nothing wrong with their current strategy?

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BP Raises petrol prices by 8c per litre and rips of Kiwi motorists (again)

By Steve Biddle, in , posted: 28-May-2007 21:23

Does this sound like a repeat? That's because it is a repeat of my post last week.

In what is a repeat of the past 3 weekends of cheap fuel BP have been the first major chain to raise prices, this time by 8c per litre raising the price of petrol to 159.9 for a litre of 91 unleaded.

My pick is that by tomorrow morning BP will be forced to back down from this increase because nobody else will follow with an 8c price increase and I'll pick fuel prices dropping back to 157.9.

You're pathetic BP. You spend money advertising "cheap fuel weekends" and then rip Kiwi motorists off by being the first to raise prices to a point more than they were before the weekend started, and for the 3rd weekend in a row you're going to get pwned big time when nobody else follows suit.

And to all the mororists out there who support BP - how about spending your money elsewhere rather than supporting a company who's only interested in ripping every hard earned cent they can from you?

BP got pwned

By Steve Biddle, in , posted: 22-May-2007 20:44

Following on from yesterday's post (BP raises fuel prices. Unsuspecting Kiwi customers ripped off) it's obvious today that BP's attempt to raise petrol prices forced them to back down yet again. Both Shell and Caltex raised prices to 157.9 this morning. Mobil only increased their price to 156.9 forcing BP to cut 4c per litre off their price and all other's to drop 1c and match the Mobil price.

It's interesting to read BP trying to get bragging rights about reducing petrol by 5c for the second weekend in a row. Maybe Peter Griffiths would like to explain why BP feel it necessary on both Monday mornings to increase petrol back to a point higher than the previous Friday? Your customers know you're scamming them.

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BP raises fuel prices. Unsuspecting Kiwi customers ripped off.

By Steve Biddle, in , posted: 21-May-2007 16:36

Yet again the wonderful folks at BP have lead the way in ripping off Kiwi's by raising their fuel prices by 8c per litre this afternoon.

Fuel prices dropped by 5c per litre of Friday from 157.9 for a litre of 91 to 152.9 over the weekend.

A completely unscientific survey on my way home today (driving past 9 petrol stations) indicates that while BP have raised their price to 160.9 all other companies have remained at 152.9

Don't support these idiots.  I wouldn't even buy a packet of chewing gum from them. They're the PPI (petrol price increase) leaders in the New Zealand marketplace.

UPDATE @ 22:00 Shell have moved their price to 157.9 which is the same as it was on Friday. My money is on BP dropping their price in the morning to match that and pretending this never happened. The problem is customers are a lot smarter than you think.

TVNZ bring V8 Supercars to Freeview

By Steve Biddle, in , posted: 16-May-2007 16:12

If you're a V8 Supercars fan there's now a good reason to convince your wife or husband why you should be allowed to fork out for a Freeview box. TVNZ have announced today that they will be broadcasting the remainder of the 2007 V8 Supercars season live and interrupted on TVNZ Sports Extra, a Freeview only channel.

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sbiddle's profile

Steve Biddle
New Zealand

I'm an engineer who loves building solutions to solve problems.

My interests and skillset include:

*VoIP (Voice over IP). I work with various brands of hardware and PBX's on a daily basis
  -Asterisk (incl trixbox, PiaF, FreePBX, Elastix and AsteriskNOW)

  -xDSL deployments

*Structured cabling
  -Home/office cabling
  -Phone & Data

*Computer networking
  -Mikrotik hardware
  -WAN/LAN solutions

*Wireless solutions
  -Motel/Hotel hotspot deployments
  -Outdoor wireless deployments, both small and large scale
  -Temporary wireless deployments
*CCTV solutions
  -Analogue and IP

I'm an #avgeek who loves to travel the world (preferably in seat 1A) and stay in nice hotels.

+My views do no represent my employer. I'm sure they'll be happy to give their own if you ask them.

You can contact me here or by email at [email protected]

Located in NZ and after a cheap way to call friends or family in Australia?

Faktortel VoIP offers plans from $0 per month that offer you the convenience of being able to call landline numbers anywhere in Australia from A$ 10c per call (yes *per call*, not per minute!). An optional Australian DDI number also lets friends and family call you and they will only pay the cost of a local call. Interested? Check out Faktortel for more details.