For the last few months I have been using the PDQ service from TelstraClear, first as a triallist (before it was launched) then after as a paying customer. I have only recently moved into my house in Wellington, and wanted to use ADSL to gain experience in the NZ broadband product. I was on the 3.5/128 service, and last Tuesday was moved to the Full Speed/128 product.
I've worked in the telecoms industry since 1993, and have taken a balanced view on market observations vs reality. I've been on the receiving end in Telecom as a Product Manager, and as a customer of Telecom when using their 'mobile' services. So I wasn't expecting a great deal of PDQ, given it's all resold Telecom anyway (except for the internet gateway), but the addition of a Clear email address to my vintage Xtra one (anyway remember the original XTR alias's?) was a goodie.
Telecom wasn't that bad (or that good!), and rhetoric was more prevalent than hard fact.
My speed on the 3.5mbps service was 2.2mbps on a good day - after the Full Speed migration, my average real service declined to about 1.1mbps - the best 'peak' speed I got was 2.2, ping times of 140ms, but overall it just felt lumpy and slow. It wasn't my internal wiring - that's all brand new - but the service. And all but unusable in the evening.
Today the Cable Guy came in and changed me over, after a long 3 hours, to TelstraClear.
I was shocked at the speed of Internet - on a 2/2mbps plan, my ping time is 25ms, and it's plainly obvious the speedtester would go faster if my profile was throttled. Not only that, but the responsiveness of my machine has improved - anyway who has used a mobile datacard (EVDO or GPRS or UMTS) will know how sludgy Windows becomes because of the slow network connection.
SO this really got me thinking about our situation here, and the lack of apparent progress in Internet access development. The industry parked it's a** waiting for unbundling - even my employer, who paused investment while they took stock of the regulatory development, however glacial (Now was definetly not good). So here we are, with an unbundled network. Everyone has access to full speed ADSL, on a network built for the days when Xtra was 33kbps dialup. The cost to Telecom to upgrade backhaul, upgrade exchanges, cabinets, kit.... it's a big bill. Lots of capital investment, real pressure on the dividend, list goes on.
So what to do in the meantime? Customer inertia being what it is, most people won't consider going through a change of provider. My experience was pretty painless, if a little disruptive. No more than a SKY dish being installed, but a lot less uglier to look at
So I'm pleased I moved. I'm pleased I took the opportunity to not wait for DSL to change, and for the industry to spend lots of $$ and 3 years to get to faster internet access. Most of NZ has no choice - but for those that do, it really is worth thinking about it. Not all solutions have to come from the government or Telecom.
This isnt a plug for my employer (sorry if it does sound like it). It's a plug for anyone who is working on providing alternatives to Telecom for Internet access. Size them up and consider giving it a go (Slingshot, Vodafone, The Loop and so on....). And give Telecom an opportunity to invest and surprise us all
So, tonite I had the pleasure of attending the Vodafone launch event in Wellington, announcing the arrival of HSDPA in NZ. The 'network' is launched formally today (12 Sept 06), and hardware will be available 1st October 06.
This is entirely consistent with giving your channel time to train staff, get kit into warehouse, distribute etc. 1st of the month is a good time marketing wise to launch new things, in either the consumer or business market segments.
AKL, WLG or CHC 3g footprint - so wherever you get 3G now, you'll get HSDPA. It goes faster, you'll chew through your data cap (which won't move - it's still $49 for 1GB) faster, and life will be more exciting. The datacard will be a PCI-Express card, which I believe is the Sierra Wireless card. I have a lot of respect for the SW crowd, they were quite forward looking and focused on the data card market (the Voq smartphone is relegated to the annals of history for 'challenged' products).
So my question is how mobile are you, and how much do you need to be?
Leave out mobile telco folk - such as me - who live on their mobile phone, blackberry and datacard. They have to - eating their own dogfood, as the expression goes. I love mobile - always have since i was 5 years old and grasped the original concept of RT's (which shows how old I really am) - and the promise of the technology.
My mobile (Nokia E61 today) for occasional voice is fine. Email now and then is good. But being 'free' and able to THINK about what I am doing, and how I can go forward (in my portfolio for TelstraClear, and personally with my life) is just so, well, REFRESHING.
It's so easy to claim you're busy. Don't have time to think. So many emails. yaddih yaddah. Bollocks I say - in those situations you're reacting, and probably making questionable calls. Yes there's times when you must react quickly, but in reality we love those reactive moments because we don't have to THINK hard about what we're doing.
Having to THINK about what you're doing, where you're going, and the consequences is far more frightening. People like to claim they don't understand - I don't buy that at all. We do understand - but we don't like what we understand. So we play thick, and life goes on.
I look forward to Mobile Broadband. It's a speed increase, things go faster and that's life. Back it whole-heartedly, this is how we move forward as a species, and it's fun to be involved in.
It's a useful tool. Will it revolutionise the country? nope. Available to the few who can afford it, a technology that doesn't like user density (that's many users in a small area, not user intelligence!), it makes life nicer for email and browsing. It won't change my workload - way too much to solve, way too little time.
But I look forward to playing with new toys - it compliments my broadband well!
So what does this mean?
Expect a lot of rhetoric. It's bad for the country. The competition will rely on regulation rather than invest in new technology.
Whatever we take it to mean, one thing is does mean is that won't be that easy.
ULL gives me access to a network of copper in various grades of condition, from average to really sucky. It will take at least 6 months to implement a new model for the companies to work together, another 6-12 months to implement technology and interconnection points, and so on.
Who says Telecom will be in a hurry to deliver this?
The reality: it's nice to have the copper available at wholesale pricepoint. For the likes of callplus and the other small players it's another way forward. But the reality is that the network still belongs to Telecom, and it will be Telecom that delivers the interconnection model, the staff and the technology to do so. An 'accounting' seperation will need to be
Far better for the bigger operators (Voda and TelstraClear) to focus on what they do: sales onnet. ULL is a distraction at best - certainly a visible distraction - and will only continue to muddy the waters.
What I'd like to know is, how are we going to grow this country and get MORE PEOPLE HERE? 4m people on which 1 uber, 2 major and umpteen minor carriers rely on. I think we're missing the bigger picture here.
UPDATE: David Cunliffe on Campbell saying Telecom forced it.