TelstraClear you fail.

By Steve Biddle, in , posted: 21-Nov-2008 12:59

I obviously haven't paid my TCL bill - at least that's what the recorded message says that just rang me on my mobile.

What was interesting to see was they they were attempting to set the CID so it originates from their residential credit services.. except that they have the CID wrong!

On my mobile I see 064508889977 - obviously this needs another 0 at the start so it says 0064508889977 so the call will connect. The idea of sending the CID is great, I'm just not sure how many people you will get returning the call since you're using the wrong number!

/me now wonders if I should not pay my bill next month to see how long it now takes to fix this! :-)

Edit: It appears that this issue may not infact be a TCL issue so I might owe TCL an apology! :-)

It appears that Vodafone have their switch incorrectly configured and it's not handling CID correctly.

Analogue TV shut off in NZ - Correcting the media FUD.

By Steve Biddle, in , posted: 20-Nov-2008 17:56

We all know that the mainstream media sometimes struggles with getting their basic facts right and today is no different.

The NZ Herald have reported on a NZPA story today incorrectly reporting that analogue TV broadcasts will probably be shut down in new Zealand in 2012. This is nothing but FUD.

New Zealand broadcasters planned to switch off analogue television services once the 75 per cent threshold was reached or in 2012, whichever came first.

This statement is incorrect. There are no plans to shut off analogue TV in New Zealand once uptake reaches 75 or 2012, whichever comes first.

To quote the Ministry of Economic Development who hold this responsibility

(b) Setting a Switch-off Date

10. Free-to-air digital television (DTV) needs to establish itself, and time is needed to assess take-up rates and the public response to DTV. An initial target date (or range) for ASO will therefore only be announced once total DTV penetration reaches around 60%. Following this, a firm date will be set once penetration reaches around 75%, or in 2012 – whichever is first.

Is it very clear that a date for ASO (analogue shutoff) will be announced in 2012 or when uptake reaches 75%. ASO will NOT occur in 2012 or when 75% of households have digital TV. 

Industry expectations at present are that the Government will confirm a date for ASO around mid to late 2012 with the ASO date based on projections of approximately 90% of households having access to digital TV. This date is expected to be in the 2013 - 2016 region with estimates at present of this occuring around 2014.

There have been several other reports in the media lately that ASO will occur in 2012. This is not correct.

Biddle Telecommunications launches fantastic new mobile plans

By Steve Biddle, in , posted: 13-Nov-2008 16:23

Biddle Telecommunications are please to announce their new mobile plans into the NZ marketplace. We are sick of the rip off plans in the NZ market place and want to shake up the industry.


You Fail Sometimes (tm)

$29.97 per month 
*60 You Fail minutes to any network
*600 You Fail TXT's to any network
*250MB You Fail Data

Extra minutes cost 49c per minute

You Fail Always (tm)

$49.97 per month

*120 You Fail Minutes to any network
*600 You Fail TXT's to any network 
*500MB You Fail Data

Extra minutes cost 41c per minute

You Fail M3gA (tm)

$79.97 per month
*250 You Fail Minutes to any network
*600 You Fail TXT's to any network
*1GB You Fail Data

Extra minutes cost 31c per minute

You Fail Ultimate (tm)

$129.97 per month

*500 You Fail Minutes to any network
*600 You Fail TXT's to any network
*2GB You Fail Data

Extra minutes cost 25c per minute

You Fail L33t (tm)

$199.97 per month

*1000 You Fail Minutes to any network
*600 You Fail TXT's to any network
*5GB You Fail Data

Extra minutes cost 19c per minute

All You Fail plans feature You Fail Upgrade (tm)
If you exceed your monthly plan minutes calls are charged at our regular rate until you reach the next tier You Fail Plan. Once you reach this tier you automatically receive the airtime benefits of this plan for the current calendar month.

For example - you are on You Fail Sometimes. Extra airtime is charged at 49c per minute so once you exceed your 60 You Fail minutes you will be charged at 49c per minute up to the $49.97 You Fail Always plan cost. Once you reach this you will automatically receive the airtime benefits of this plan.

$29.97 + 49c per minute for additional airtime (41 minutes) = 101 minutes for $49.97

Once you have reached 41 minutes of additional airtime you will receive the airtime benefits of You Fail Always. This means you will receive an additional 19 minutes of usage for this month without having to pay any additional charges.

Want to upgrade your data cap? Once you exceed your data cap all additional data is charged at $19.97 per GB of data. You can however prepurchase additional data that is valid for 12 months from the date of purchase

2GB $29.97
3GB $39.97
5GB $49.97
10GB $99.97

If you prepurchase a data block this will be credited to your account at the time of purchase and will be valid for 12 months. Any data usage in excess of your monthly included allocation will deducted from this and the balance carried over. Any unused data will expire at the end of 12 months however if you prepurchase another data block of equal or greater value before the expiry date this will be carried forward and added on to your balance.

BT is also introducing the You Fail Hour. Between 7pm and 7am you can nominate an hour and receive free calling to any other mobile phone on the BT network. During this hour you can make as many calls to any other BT phones and only pay $1. Simply TXT "FAIL" to FAIL (3245) and wait for the TXT response. Once this has been received you can make as many calls as you like for the next hour and will pay no more than $1. Any calls that run over the hour will be charged at normal airtime rates. You can only use 1 You Fail Hour per 24hr period.

We are serious about our entry to the market and expect strong uptake of these plans due to their exceptional value. We aim to never be beaten when it comes to offering New Zealanders true value in the mobile marketplace.

And remember.. Don't call us - we'll call you.


Consumer Magazine ISP survey - how accurate is reader data?

By Steve Biddle, in , posted: 12-Nov-2008 08:36

This months's Consumer Magazine features the annual ISP survey, the result of which don't seem to have changed significantly over recent years. What is surprising however for many Geekzone readers is that there are seemingly differing results that Consumer magazine are reporting compared to the satisfaction levels many people are reporting on Geekzone.

Consumer's resporting is based solely on reader responses - hardly the most scientific of surveys (just like forum posts!). People's perception of "satisfaction" may be skewed by many variables and it's potentially very questionable how accurate this data actually is.

For the results - the rating for all ISP's is shown first followed by their rating as a broadband ISP

Inspire came out on top (2) followed by Actrix (1) and then Maxnet (3). Interesting WorldxChange rated 4th but Xnet rated 6th - considering they are one and the same it does question how much research went into this article!

There has been a huge number of complains lately in regards to WxC here on Geekzone in regards to speed and customer service but Consumer readers seem to be more than happy with their results. Who's right? Is the recent criticism of WxC justified?

Rounding up at the bottom of the table is Xtra. Consumer readers however seem to be deeply unsatisfied overall with Xtra as their IXP with their satisfaction results well below the 65% average. Xtra is the one ISP that many people are now consistantly saying offers the best ADSL performace in the country so it seems to show that the survey is potentially far from being an accurate indicator of ISP performance.

What it does show however is that many people are unhappy with their broadband performance and seem to believe their ISP is solely at fault. What we know from the large number of posts on GZ over recent times is that household wiring is one of the biggest contributors to poor ADSL performance. I've probably helped close to 20 people I know this year rewire houses and in nearly all cases ADSL performance has increased significantly. Because wiring changes to phone wiring are permitted by the homeowner many people have added their own extensions, done a poor job and are causing themselves problems. If you are expiencing issues such as constant dropouts then look at your house wiring first - there is a good chance it's a significant factor. If you are modernising your house ensure you factor in home networking and install a structured cabling solution.

Obama is President Elect!

By Steve Biddle, in , posted: 5-Nov-2008 17:00

With the closing of the last voting in California & Hawaii CNN is currently reporting their exit polls showing Obama as the next President Elect. This truely is a historic moment!

More as it comes to hand..

Thank you Alan Bollard

By Steve Biddle, in , posted: 24-Oct-2008 08:29

It must have been tough over the past few years putting up with the critisicm but in light of the recent turmoil you've redeemed yourself. What has happened certainly didn't surprise me and is exactly what I've been predicting for two years. I'm guessing it's come as no real surprise to you either.
Carrying higher interest rates over the past few years has left NZ in a far stronger position than we would have been otherwise, and caused a smaller boom in property than what we potentially would have occured if interest rates had been lower. As a result our slump isn't going to be anywhere near as bad as other countries and out credit market won't fare as badly.

You endured the critisicm but persisted with your plan. That deserves top marks.

Lets fix the world economy. But is it actually broken?

By Steve Biddle, in , posted: 20-Oct-2008 15:15

Maybe I am being a little bit naive but can anybody actually tell me what is actually broken in the world economy? Much like the 1987 sharemarket crash and dot com boom we went have been though an enonomic boom cycle fueled of people's greed. The meltdown came. The free market we live in has now corrected itself and there is nothing to fix because nothing is actually broken.

Real eatate prices rose significantly, not because of the usual supply and demand but because of greed. People paid inflated prices for property not based upon it's actual worth but what they could onsell that property for. People lived outside their means on cheap credit, countries borrowed significantly more than their GDP figures could withstand, companies bought debt off other companies because they were greedy and could see big profits for themselves. Much like property, oil prices rapidly rose, again not because of supply and demand but because of speculators who believed they could make money. There was no shortage of oil. There won't be for a long time.

Did anybody serious believe that this bubble wasn't going to burst? If not you should have. While there are probably economists who strongly disagree I think you can compare a free market to Darwin's theory of natural selection where the strongest will survive and the weakest will fail. A bad business model can only last for so long before it gets wiped out..

Like a big night on the town the hangover is here for the greedy people who drank too much of the free booze.

Those who were smart shouldn't have to worry too much to worry about because you're probably sitting back smiling and saying "told you so" to everybody else.

What does the future hold for Telecom New Zealand

By Steve Biddle, in , posted: 18-Oct-2008 10:40

Telecom New Zealand. State owned telco turned monopolistic operator. Pride of the NZ sharemarket. Cash cow for shareholders.

Now it's faltering with a share price that's currently trading at $2.23 which is it's lowest price since floating. It's just announced it's spending over $500 million building a new WCDMA mobile network (several hundred million over previous estimates due to a change in technology) and is currently in the middle of a multi billion dollar NGN rollout. This powerhouse is now stuck at sea with no engine waiting to be rescued. But who can rescue them?

First we need to establish who got Telecom in this mess and there is only one answer. Theresa Gattung and Rod Deane. Dean's misguided attempt at maintaining his his powerhouse monopoly and Gattung's easy does it approach along Dean's path has ruined Telecom. The assets have depreciated, the profit generating machine has gone. Even the customers are going too, unhappy with the products & services that don't deliver meet their needs. Investors stayed with Telecom for two reasons - good dividends and tax credits, unfortunately when you investors who don't care about a company following a flawed business model but are only there for their return you know you have a problem. Do I feel sorry for people who have lost money with Telecom shares? Not in the slightest. Your support of the board and executives has put Telecom in the position it's in today.

Telecom now has a CEO who knows his stuff. I know several Telecom staff who have met Paul Reynolds and love his approach to business. Not only is he a manager he also knows his stuff - BT's 21CN network was largely his baby. His biggest challange lies ahead, can he start the engine again?

So what can save Telecom? After years of no competition in the NZ marketplace Telecom are now the underdog. Vodafone controls the mobile market and far from being the good guys now control upwards of 75% of total mobile voice traffic in New Zealand. Telecom has lost out significantly to TelstraClear in Wellington, the Kapiti Coast and Christchurch with large numbers of customers moving to TCL's own HFC network. Telecom face serious competition from unbundled services in in Auckland (and soon to be nationwide) and Telecom are very slow off the mark at offering next generation products such as a consumer and small business VoIP service, a market that is currently expericing good growth.

So what would I do?

First off - Telstra invests money into Telecom for a stake in their mobile busines.

Sound far fetched? So are plenty of other things. Think about it however and it makes sence - Telecom mobile is a big hole that has a red tarpaulan over the top of it. They have been seriously hurt by Vodafone and need to change things drastically if they want to hurt Vodafone. Telstra have plenty of cash and need a presence in NZ, particularly in mobile. Telecom still holds a strategic investment in 3 Australia with Telstra so do have a working partnership with them.

Let Telstra invest their money and establish true zero rated roaming across the ditch. This has the potential to really hurt Vodafone because they in effect have always "owned" the roaming market despite Telecom's best efforts. Why should there be inbound roam forward charges between both countries? 3 have already pioneered the zero rated on network roaming concept across all their majority owned networks, it is no big deal. Roaming is still a cash cow that the EU are trying to seriously curb, the reality is high roaming rates are nothing but greed from carriers. While you're at it look at bringing the 3 brand here - a MVNO isn't ncessarily bad if it's on your network.

You have to significanty increase the value for money customers receive. Get rid of per minute billing and move back to per second after the first minute. Don't rip your customers off. They don't like it. Voice usage should be well over double what it is now, this doesn't need to be done by cutting rates but by significantly increasing the caps available to customers. Significant numbers of customers could easily be moved upwards towards the $50 per month APRU target if they feel like they are getting value for money.

Introduce flat rate plans.

Your current flat rate plan is a joke. It's obvious however it was never actually designed to get any people on it and certainly didn't hurt your business because you have bugger all high end customers anyway, they have all gone to Vodafone. You put a price point in the market which you thought could hurt Vodafone but it's had virtually no impact. Dropping this to $199 per month would. Tie customers into a $199 36 month contract and you'll hurt Vodafone badly. They will have no option but to match it, something that will seriosuly hurt their business.

Keep your customers happy.

Customer loyalty isn't hard. You need to make your customers feel welcome. Give them free airtime every so often as a bonus. Give away prizes. Make your customer feel happy to be Telecom customers.

Take data seriously.

You've attempted to so far but this can obviously be improved. Introduce casual prepaid data packages that can be added to any plan ($30 for 1GB that is valid for 6 months). Slash existing data packages. Data is now a commodity item and is no different to SMS messaging was 6 years ago where the model for usage has now changed significantly and you're past the stage of simply ripping off the early adopters. Now mobile data is mainstream. Vodafone's $1 a day offering was a start but can be easily improved upon - why when the effective rate for the first 10MB is 10c per MB should there then be a 1000% increase to $1 per MB for additional data? That's just making customers feel like they are ripped off and is actually discouraging data usage.

And last but not least. Don't tie customers to plans. Sure - if a customer wants a free phone then do this. Infact give them an incentive to sign a term contract. But don' don't don't force all your customers to enter a term contract. This is plain stupid and simply stops potentnail customers from signing up.

If you offer the best value and keep your customers happy then they won't want to leave. It's not rocket science.

Good luck Telecom. You're going to need it.

Section 92a - the scariest law to ever be introduced into NZ?

By Steve Biddle, in , posted: 10-Oct-2008 12:15

As many people will know NZ's new Copyright laws have been in place for some time now. One provision of this law has now yet taken effect, in part because it has proven to be highly controversial.

From February 2009 section 92a of the act will take effect. It will force ISP's to disconnect your service if there is reason to believe you are breaking the law by trading in copyrighted material. There is no burden of proof - if somebody you dislike complains to your ISP that you downloaded a song illegal you will get cut off. You are guilty. There is no jury.

A meeting took place yesterday between Judith Tizard (the minister responsible for the introduction of the law) and other parties who strongly object to this law. Tizard as always showed in the past that she has absolutely no understanding of reality and lives on another planet. Judging from comments made by her in yesteday's meeting it's obvious that she still fails to understand anything.

It's a real shame that some washed up minister who won't be around in the next Parliament has the power to introduce such a law that in all reality will have innocent vistims being unable to have an internet connection and ISP's breaking the law for failing to provent people from downloading copyrighted material (exactly how they are supposed to do this is anybody's guess).

Judith Tizard and section 92a really do = fail. Big fail.

More on yesterday's meeting is here on Colin Jackson's blog

Make sure you contact Judith Tizard and make your feelings heard.

Also contact your local MP or candidates. Turn section 92a into an election issue. It has far reaching consequences and yet will take effect early next year.

Vodafone - do you want my business?

By Steve Biddle, in , posted: 23-Sep-2008 14:41

Customer retention is something every business needs to be good at. If your customer don't come back then you'll very quickly find yourself going out of business.

Visit your local coffee shop these days and you're bound to get a loyalty card. Buy 10 coffee's and get 1 free. Visit Subway and you'll get credit that goes towards buying a sandwich. Fly with an Airline and you'll get frequent flyer points. Buy your groceries at New World or buy your petrol at Shell and you'll get Fly Buys points. I don't need to list any more - I'm sure you get my drift.

Most of these companies all exist in competive marketplaces where customers have many choices when it comes to spending their hear earned money. These companies realise that keeping their customers happy is not just something you pay sparse attention to, it's part of your core business.

Now lets look at the mobile market in NZ. Stastistics tell is that 100% of NZers own a mobile phone so I'll ask a question that everybody should be able to answer. Exactly what are Vodafone or Telecom doing for you to keep you as a happy loyal customer? Do you feel that your mobile carrier really wants your business or are you simply treated as a number? Do you think they really care if you moved away to another carrier?

This poses the question - do these companies care about customer loyalty? Both feature business models based around locking you into long into term contracts and giving you small discounts off overpriced handsets. Imagine if you wanted to buy petrol but could only do this if you entered into a 24 month exclusive contract with the fuel outlet of your choice, a contract that you couldn't break without paying a penalty. In return they would sell you a 1.5l bottle of Coke dicscounted to $3.00 - more than you would pay for this product if you shopped at a supermarket. Would you feel like you were a happy, content loyal customer or would you feel like you were just a number?

New Zealand now has a greater choice when it comes to mobile with TelstraClear launching a virtual mobile network using Telecom's CDMA network and Black+White are about to launch a similair virtual network using Vodafone's network. B+W won't be offering term contracts and instead believe they can compete by offering a package that makes their customers feel like they are receiving value for money which in turn will drive customer loyalty.

So I'll now ask the question - having been a Bellsouth & now Vodafone customer for 13 years do you really value my business? What have you done recently that should make me feel happy about being a customer of yours? How have you rewarded me for my loyalty over the years? You give me significantly less airtime for my $ spend than virtually any other Vodafone Group network. You've put up roaming rates so I now have to pay more to make calls when I visit Australia 3-4 times per year and also charge all incoming roam forward calls by the minute rather than per second. This annoyed me greatly. What else have you done? Nothing. What would I like you to do? Offer me a plan that feels like I'm receiving value for money. Don't lock me into a term contract. Don't make me laugh me by offering me $50 off a $1000 handset that's selling for $200 more than it's true market value. Quite simply don't insult me. I'm happy to pay good money each month for a plan that meets my needs.

      Do you really value my business or not? If you do what are you going to do for me?

sbiddle's profile

Steve Biddle
New Zealand

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

I also love sharing my views and analysis of the tech world on this blog, along with the odd story about aviation and the travel industry.

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 PiaF, FreePBX, Elastix)

  -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