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Topic # 12969 16-Apr-2007 19:05
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TelstraClear to shut down Tauranga Unplugged

It is with great disappointment we are announcing that Tauranga Unplugged is to be shut down. Please see the following media release for an explanation.

MEDIA RELEASE
Monday April 16, 2007


TelstraClear to shut down pilot wireless network in Tauranga

TelstraClear’s pilot wireless network in Tauranga is to be shut down because of a deliberate last minute change by Vodafone that meant the service would be uncompetitive.

TelstraClear Chief Executive Dr Allan Freeth says an eleventh hour change to a key component of its roaming arrangements has forced the company to make the tough decision to halt the project and focus on investments in existing and new services.
 
“We had a national roaming agreement and an additional agreement to make the changes that would allow us to deliver Unplugged. We proceeded on that basis,” says Dr Freeth.

“We even provided a joint statement to the Commerce Commission setting out that we had agreed the changes necessary for Unplugged to launch,” he says.

Problems with entry to the mobile market are well known. TelstraClear has received and will comply with the Commerce Commission’s Section 98 notice requesting all documents and correspondence relating to commercial negotiations between Vodafone and TelstraClear around Unplugged.

The pilot network had been on track for launch in July, was tested as planned and would have delivered a converged mobile/broadband service to homes and businesses throughout Tauranga city.

Dr Freeth says Vodafone’s late change forced TelstraClear into an untenable position.

“We could delay our launch and lose many months pursuing legal action or persuading Vodafone to revert to its previous position. In the interim, Vodafone would go to market with its own service.”

“Or, we could push ahead with the July launch of a service Vodafone’s late change had made unattractive and uncompetitive.”

“Either course was unacceptable, so we made the tough decision to shut down the network and invest in other services.”

“Vodafone’s agenda, despite public insistence it is pro-competition, has been all about buying valuable time to, what appears to us, secure a clear-run for its own service.”

Dr Freeth says the decision will be disappointing for Tauranga and for TelstraClear staff, however, the company could not continue with a project that would destroy shareholder value.

“We set an ambitious timetable and had nothing but support and an open door from the Tauranga community. We are especially grateful to Tauranga Mayor Stuart Crosby, the City Council executive, Priority One and the Tauranga Chamber of Commerce and would like to thank them for their unstinting support.”

Dr Freeth says TelstraClear will focus its investment on its fixed line business, leveraging broadband services in its own network and investigating the opportunities created by unbundled local loop access.

TelstraClear has been at the vanguard of competitive change in this country for over 15 years and is excited by the potential offered by the new environment, although Dr Freeth noted that the speed and scale of any investment will depend on the detail of price and terms of unbundled local loops.

“Where we can compete without obstruction we deliver better services and value to customers than anyone else in New Zealand. In the past year customer numbers grew by 10 percent on our Wellington and Christchurch networks and more than 40 percent of those customers have broadband, with speeds of up to 10 Mbps available,” he says.

“Recently, we won the contract to provide fixed line triple play packages to the new Pegasus Township north of Christchurch. We look forward to investing so that these services can be extended to other communities as access becomes available.”

“While the news today is clearly a disappointment for us, and New Zealand, it’s just one of the many trials and ideas that TelstraClear will continue to pursue to bring the benefits of competition and technology to New Zealand consumers and businesses.”

ENDS
  • TelstraClear is a substantive force in the New Zealand telecommunications market with over 400,000 customers, including more than 35,000 small and medium sized business customers and many of the country’s largest corporate accounts and government departments.

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  Reply # 67272 16-Apr-2007 19:16
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They had built most of it. A lot of the towers are up. Would have blown away Vodafone’s poor 3G coverage in Tauranga.


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  Reply # 67275 16-Apr-2007 20:15
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Bit of a pitty and a waste, reminds me when all that money was spent to build the First TV network in Auckland and Wellington yet that didn't last very long but most of the cable is still in place.
Could telstraclear use the towers to offer Wi-Max in its place since they have fibre feeds?

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  Reply # 67276 16-Apr-2007 20:34
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Reading the Herald article http://www.nzherald.co.nz/section/3/story.cfm?c_id=3&objectid=10434556 my guess is that TelstraClear is at fault here, not Vodafone.  Anyway, $50,000,000 for Tauranga, $500 per person, that's a lot of money compared with $125 for an equivalent nationwide celular network. I do question TelstraClears judgement, here in Christchurch they had heaps of money to roll out a city wide network.  They had used two methods - overhead cable and cable dug in the ground.  Guess what happened?  Some company in Australia lost a whole lot of money and TelstraClear stopped the rollout.  Maybe the should have done the overhead cable rollout first?


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  Reply # 67287 16-Apr-2007 21:44
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andrewcnz:

They had built most of it. A lot of the towers are up. Would have blown away Vodafone’s poor 3G coverage in Tauranga.



How did you come to this theory I know a contractor building the towers and he said quite the opposite

And if Vodafone only built a network in one city in New Zealand I would expect the coverage to be perfect



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  Reply # 67307 16-Apr-2007 22:44
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The question is: who has the best coverage now (that TCL have done an 'econet')? 




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  Reply # 67325 17-Apr-2007 10:24
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johnr:
andrewcnz:

They had built most of it. A lot of the towers are up. Would have blown away Vodafone’s poor 3G coverage in Tauranga.



How did you come to this theory I know a contractor building the towers and he said quite the opposite

And if Vodafone only built a network in one city in New Zealand I would expect the coverage to be perfect




From Vodafone blamed as roaming plan fails in today's paper:

Dr Freeth said it had resource consents for about half the cellular sites it needed in Tauranga, and about one-third of its sites were already built or under construction. The company was on track for a July launch.


I read somewhere else they were going to make the ceremonial first call in the next week or so, so they must have got a long way with the core infrastructure.




 

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  Reply # 67411 17-Apr-2007 19:48
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My suspicion is that Econet/NZ Comms surprised everyone by getting their act together, and this is what really made Unplugged unviable.




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  Reply # 67422 17-Apr-2007 20:59
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compost: My suspicion is that Econet/NZ Comms surprised everyone by getting their act together, and this is what really made Unplugged unviable.


Econet changing a couple of directors around and announcing that "we have more money!!!!11111one" is not "getting their act together". I'll believe their network exists/is going to exist when I see it :)

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Reply # 67427 17-Apr-2007 21:25
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compost: My suspicion is that Econet/NZ Comms surprised everyone by getting their act together, and this is what really made Unplugged unviable.


Econet changed directors, announced investments and promised a network for 18 months from now - the same network they promised back in December 2005 for 18 months from them... And you think they have any power in the local telco sector?







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  Reply # 67430 17-Apr-2007 21:34
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freitasm:

Econet changed directors, announced investments and promised a network for 18 months from now - the same network they promised back in December 2005 for 18 months from them... And you think they have any power in the local telco sector?


My opinion of Econet (and this is purely opinion) - is that Econet/NZ Comms is nothing more than an advanced 419 scam. I don't know why the media continues to publish more and more crap from them, they aren't reputable, and have no influence in any "telco circles".



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  Reply # 67437 17-Apr-2007 22:05
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Econet is now only a 10% shareholder in the company, hence the name change and Tex off the board. The Maori Trust is now a 12% shareholder. There is a ton more money floating around HQ now. They've got the best chance now they've ever had.




 

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Reply # 67439 17-Apr-2007 22:08
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Somewhat, I would have expected at least a single test cellsite being operational since 2005...

They had money before - no network. I still think that Microsoft converting to linux and dropping windows (alternatively, hell freezing over) is more likely than Econet deploying a cellphone network




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  Reply # 67443 17-Apr-2007 22:27
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Best of luck to NZ Communications, but until a user can buy some airtime and use it, its just vaporware...




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  Reply # 67456 18-Apr-2007 00:00
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Vodafone just sold NZ Communications (most boring name ever for a company) 6MHz of spectrum so the whinging can stop soon hopefully.

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  Reply # 67465 18-Apr-2007 06:26
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timestyles: Vodafone just sold NZ Communications (most boring name ever for a company) 6MHz of spectrum so the whinging can stop soon hopefully.


Is this definate yet or still in negotiation?

This is 900MHz spectrum for anybody who hasn't been following what's happening. The government have advised both Telecom and Vodafone to use their existing spectrum or face losing some.


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