So much cool stuff. So little time.

I love NZ mobile telcos

By Steve Withers, in , posted: 6-Dec-2011 06:48

I love you, Vodafone. I love you, Telecom. I love you 2Degrees. I love you, TelstraClear.

I am in Canada. You have not known 'Telco Hell' until you have tried to buy a phone and plan in Canada.

All the phones are locked. I wander up and down the aisles looking at the new-shiny phones....knowing they are all tainted...and beyond my reach. 

The affordable mobile plans are all limited to small geographic areas within "area codes". A call in or out is a toll call. You pay to receive calls and txts. You can get a 'national' plan for all of Canada, but it costs a lot. You can't get a plan for just the province you live in. It's your postage stamp.....or the whole country - all 7 times zones. 

Kiwis have it SO GOOD! Only the caller / texte pays. Phones aren't locked. You can get decent minutes for the entire country on both pre-pay and on account. Even data is becoming cheaper....(unless you're on Vodafone). 

So...thank you NZ mobile cell providers. Thank you. 

All that said....I still have a Bell Canada account because roaming on a Kiwi phone would be outrageously expensive by comparison....but at least all I have to do is swap my BCE SIM into my Kiwi phone, set up the APNs....and I'm away laughing. 


Switching ISPs

By Steve Withers, in , posted: 12-Oct-2011 08:18

I knew when I ordered the change from Orcon to Telecom that the transition would not go smoothly. 

In the 14 years I've been using either cable or DSL broadband I have never once had a smooth implementation with any ISP. For example, in 2008 it took ten days to get re-connected after shifting house...and I was with the same ISP. In 2007, connection finally came 5 days after originally promised....and so on back into the mid-90s with various ISPs.   

I was hoping this time might be different......but the order delivery target of 7pm on a Friday evening was an omen that all would not go well.

My existing Orcon connection died shortly after 7PM......looking good....

But after a couple of hours I still couldn't log into the Telecom DSL service with the user-id and password I had been given. The first line support people in the Philippines(?) said I had everything set up correctly and tried to put me through to the back end people....who had gone home. According to the recording on their phone line this was due to "adverse weather conditions in Christchurch"....on a reportedly sunny, clear Friday. Now you can see why I wasn't hopeful about a 7pm Friday delivery commitment. I've been 'here' before. :-)    

Whatever, my order was still open in the system.....waiting for something to happen. 

The next morning, I called again and they said they would follow up. Around 11:15am, I received a txt announcing my broadband was now ready to go. Meanwhile, my router had auto-connected and the data was flowing. 

OK..pain of install / connection was now over and was already beginning to fade rapidly as the first pages load. 

It's now Wednesday and I've been using the Telecom broadband the past few days and I have to say it is pretty good. Especially in the evening....when we can happily watch YouTube videos at 720p - even 1080p!! - with only a bare minimum of stuttering / stopping - if any at all. On Orcon I gave up ever trying to use 1080p and it would take literally minutes to NOT play. It was one of those options on the menu you stop seeing after a while because they don't actually work.

They work now.  

So far - delivery issues aside - I'm pretty happy and I'm also saving almost $100 / month over what I was paying before. 

I also noticed when I logged in to to check usage that my data quota is 80GB...not the 60GB I ordered. I phoned them up and the extra 20GB is promo of some kind. 

Fine by me. All least until the next time I have to disturb my connection. Why is it so hard after 15 years of provisioning?

Maybe someone knows. I don't.

Permalink to Switching ISPs | Main Index

Internet NZ's NetHui 2011 was excellent!

By Steve Withers, in , posted: 2-Jul-2011 00:06

I took 3 days off work this week to attend the NetHui held by InternetNZ at the Sky City Convention Centre in Auckland. It was well worth my time.

I have been on the Net since 1990 and have always been interested in its operation, governance and related legal, social and cultural issues. I was on the old ISOCNZ Council for a year in the mid-90s. Attending this year's NetHui enabled me get caught up with the current state play on all fronts and get some idea of who the people are who get things done and make things happen.  

There were four streams on each of the first two days. You can see the program here.

The final day (today, as I write) was the "big" day with everyone in the same session. The keynote speaker was Harvard Professor Lawrence Internet legend in intellectual property matters. 

When a speech transcends mere words it becomes and 'event' and Prof Lessig's speech was an 'event'. One of the very best speeches I've ever seen. You can watch it here. Go to 22 minutes in. 

Sean Plunket, Lawrence Lessig and David Cunliffe

I attended many excellent sessions on "Digital Citizenship", "Access and Enabling", "Internet Governance" and legal issues like copyright and intellectual property. I won't even attempt to summarise all the "good stuff" that happened in the 3 days at NetHui. You can go to the site and read the notes collaboratively compiled by people who attended the various sessions.  

Twitter played a huge role (for those on Twitter). Following the #nethui timeline felt like mind reading as other people in the same session as yourself responded to what we were all hearing, as it happened. It was also possible to get some sense of what was happening in sessions in other streams as hot topics lead to bursts of twitter traffic and cascading retweets of points people had strong views about. Twitter played a huge role in the 'mind' of the NetHui and made it something quite different (for me) compared to other conferences I have attended in the past.

Several politicians gave speeches. Some excellent. Some not so much. ICT Minister, Steven Joyce; Finance Minister and Deputy PM, Bill English; Attorney-General Chris Finlayson a;; gave speeches. Some better than others (watch the live streams at the NetHui site if you're interested). Other MPs who attended were Nikki Kaye (Friday), Gareth Hughes (all 3 days), Claire Curran (Friday) and David Cunliffe spoke in the Friday morning session. Claire Curran said Labour would repeal the disconnection provision of the recently passed copyright law, which brings Labour into line with Green Party policy on this contentious issue.     

One of the other highlights of the NetHui for me, personally, was learning about "Computers in Homes", an initiative of the 2020 Trust to get people online who otherwise won't be able to do it on their own. I've been wanting to do something about this on the North Shore, but didn't really know where to start. Now I know.

This blog post hasn't even scratched the surface. If you get a chance to attend next year's NetHui, take it. 

As a 'geek treat', here is a 3D video of part of the Q & A this afternoon.  Lawrence Lessig answers a question about 30 seconds in. (Change to 480p resolution. It looks MUCH better. Once it starts playing you can use the "3D button to select options and change 3D modes. For side-by-side stereo, make sure to also select "full width". If using red/cyan glasses trying setting it to "Swap (left-right)" to get the 3D effect)

(L-R - Lawrence Lessig, Chris Finlayson, Colin Jackson, Judge David Harvey, Ross LaJeunesse and Rick Shera)

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Steve Withers
New Zealand