Tip of the day - buy some Telecom NZ shares

By Steve Biddle, in , posted: 18-Sep-2008 11:18

Currently at $2.70 these are a bargain!

Once all the idiots have sold out the better things will be for Telecom. Telecom is not the company it was 4 years ago. It is a lean mean telco run by a very smart CEO that will continute to dominate the NZ landscape for many many many years to come.

Lets hope the investors bailing out at present are the idiots who only invested in the company for their dividend - greedy people who were only ever in it for a quick return. Those same people who pushed for Telecom to make big profits and caused the problems that are now the stumbling block the company is having to deal with.

Those buying shares now are the smart ones who realise that a bargain they are getting...

TVNZ7 Internet Debate

By Steve Biddle, in , posted: 15-Sep-2008 21:04

The TVNZ 7 Internet Debate, in association with InternetNZ involves four politicians quizzed on major areas of ICT policy with questions coming from you through the online chat, a studio audience, and experienced journalists.

The politicians are Labour’s Minister of Communications Hon David Cunliffe, National ICT Spokesperson Hon Maurice Williamson, ACT Leader Rodney Hide and Greens ICT Spokesperson Metiria Turei.

Broadcaster Sean Plunket will moderate the debate, with questions posed by experienced journalists Fran O’Sullivan and Russell Brown.

Mauricio has already mentioned this debate numerous times on Geekzone and from the lack of comments in the forums set up for this thread it seems that people don't seem interested in what is happening in the internet scene in NZ which is rather ironic because the second xxx ISP has poor speeds of xxx telco has a problem suddenly out of the woodwork come hundreds of people all lining up to complain!

This is YOUR chance to have YOUR questions answered by these four MP's, any of whom could be key players in the telecommunications sector in New Zealand after this years election.

Ask your Broadband questions here

Ask your cybersafety questions here

Ask your digital divide questions here

Ask your copyright questions here

Ask your convergence questions here

The debate screens live on TVNZ7 at 9pm on Tuesday 23rd September. It will also be streamed live in the TVNZ website.

Sunny weather + camera = new cellsite pics

By Steve Biddle, in , posted: 7-Sep-2008 15:40

A few photos taken today of new NZ Comms + Telecom sites in the Hutt Valley.

Upgraded Telecom Lower Hutt site in the foreground and Woosh + NZ Comms gear on the back building. This Telecom site was one of the first in Wellington to be upgraded for GSM 850 + UMTS 2100. The Woosh site has been in existance for several years now but the panels for NZ Comms have been in place for a couple of months now but are not live.

GSM is still live today on Telecom's site even though the GSM network has now been canned, obviously those sites that did have GSM gear fitted will still be live until it's removed and replaced with the UMTS 850 cards. I guess we'll be seeing some cheap 850MHz GSM equipment on Trademe soon! :-)

Main Vodafone site in Lower Hutt. 900 GSM + 2100 UMTS + 1800 GSM panels.

This site = M3gA Fa1L and should be used as a textbook example of how not to deploy a cellsite.
When the 2100 gear was added the sectorisation of this site was changed and neither of the 3 sectors now face the Westfield Queensgate mall right opposite. As a result inbuilding coverage in the mall is absolutely terrible with no coverage in large parts of the mall. Microwave links exist to several other sites including Petone, Ava and Mt Fitzherbert.

Waterloo Railway Stn site with both Telecom and Vodafone sites. Telecom panels are in the front left with the grey one on the left being a trial CDMA panel installed on several sites (Waterloo, Hutt CBD and Hutt VIC Corner) several years ago that can automatically pan & tilt to optimise the network depending on traffic load. Vodafone 900 & 2100 panels are in within the cream cylinderical enclosures at the other end.

This particular site has featured in the Hutt News this week as NZ Comms have applied for council permission to mount their gear there and some of the anti-cellsite people have jumped onto the bandwagon. Some of these anti-cellsite campaigners really should do their homework before they make idiots of themselves talking to the media when equipment for both Vodafone & Telecom as well as numerous council links for the smartlinx3 network already operate.

From the Hutt News 2/9/08  
Some residents in the Knights Road area are concerned that they haven't been consulted over a proposal to erect a telecommunications microwave tower and related equipment on top of the Waterloo Interchange building.

One resident believes the Hutt City Council has only sent information to a select few properties right opposite, including Omega Wigs at 214 Knights Road, Take Five and the dairy adjacent.

"This seems totally wrong and several homeowners/residents in the area who have learned of the application are concerned at the implications for them, their families and their property values if that application is approved and the towers and other equipment pods proceed."

Another concern is for the many pregnant women and children who regularly use the railway/bus station. They want to be assured this equipment is safe.

New NZ Comms site at Avalon

A closeup of the panels. NZ Comms don't appear to be painting any of their panels (special paint has to be used so it doesn't affect the RF properties) so this site stands out like a sore thumb. The mast has been painted green to fit in with the surroundings. Looking at the cables still coiled up below I'm guessing a microwave horn is still to be fitted for backhaul.

Vodafone site right next to the NZ Comms one. Bit hard to see detail due to the sun but it has 2100 UMTS panels on top and 900 GSM panels in the middle. Site and panels are all green but the microwave horn is still white (links to Avalon studios site).

Closeup of existing Vodafone 2100 UTMS panel (left) and new NZ Comms 900 GSM panel on the top of the Avalon TV studios tower block.

Upgraded Wingate Telecom site. One of only a handful of sites around Wellington still using omni aerials. This site was one of the last in the Hutt Valley to be upgraded before the Telecom rollout seems to have been temporarily halted. Also one of the only upgraded sites that never had a live 850 GSM signal - maybe this was only going to be a 2100Mhz site.

Closeup of the panels - this site is one of the original Telecom Mobile designs and dates back to ~1990. Note the south facing UMTS panel is a lot smaller since it's facing directly into a hillside that you can see in the picture above.

New Telecom CDMA + GSM 850 + UMTS 2100 site at Naenae. This site replaces the one below that used to be in Naenae Primary School.

DSE staff training (or lack of it)

By Steve Biddle, in , posted: 9-Aug-2008 15:33

An overheard conversation between two staff and a customer while looking around my local DSE store this afternoon.

"All these TV's are showing a high definition 720p picture" - funny how they were all showing the Olympics on TVNZ Sport Extra which is only a 576i SD channel.

Come on - it's no wonder the general public are confused about TV's and technology when you have idiots like this working for your company.

Some suggested reading for Helen Clark and Michael Cullen?

By Steve Biddle, in , posted: 5-Aug-2008 15:02

Available from Amazon.com and available used from US$2.98

For those who don't know what Keynesian Economics is it's an economic theory devised by one of the greatest economists of the 20th century - John Maynard Keynes. What the National Party want to introduce is proven basic economic principals - why are Labour so scared?

Mobile coverage comes to Maungaraki - thanks to NZ Comms

By Steve Biddle, in , posted: 30-Jul-2008 19:27

If you live in Maungaraki (a hillside suburb in Lower Hutt) you'll realise that in many parts cellular coverage is terrible. This is because neither Vodafone or Telecom believe there is a need for sites and instead rely on coverage from other sites in the Hutt Valley basin below or in Vodafone's case coverage from a site on Mt Crowther in Wainuiomata.

Good news is on the way however, NZ Communications have applied to the Lower Hutt City Council for permission to put a cellsite at the top of Honeysuckle Grove (near the water tower) which would deliver great coverage. I'm not sure if this will be a standalone mast or panels mounted on the existing water tower which already houses radio gear for several organisations including Smartlinx3 who have equipment for their wireless broadband product.

If NZ Comms can do this why can't Vodafone or Telecom?

Optus introduces unlimited calling plans in Australia

By Steve Biddle, in , posted: 22-Jul-2008 20:32

Isn't competition in the mobile marketplace fantastic? It's a concept that unfortunately New Zealanders are missing out on due to the cosy duopoly that exists between our two mobile providers - Telecom New Zealand and Vodafone.

Optus have just launched unlimited "timeless" mobile plans into the Australian marketplace. For A$99 per month you get unlimited calling to other mobiles and landline phones in Australia as well as unlimited SMS and MMS messages. This $99 pack however isn't quite $99 - it requires the purchase of a A$14.95 mobile pack that gives you 200MB of included data.

For A$129 however you receive unlimited calling, SMS and MMS along with 2GB of data.

Now compare that to what you're paying in NZ. Competition really is a great thing.

Do the Green party really understand basic economics?

By Steve Biddle, in , posted: 16-Jul-2008 18:41

We all know that our economoy is in a downward spiral - and destined for worse things. Inflation has just hit 4% in the year to June and showing no signs of slowing. We are faced with a slowdown effecting the global economy due to rising fuel and food prices.

How do the Green party want to fix this? By asking for bigger wage rises and an increase in the minimum wage. Anybody who's done economics 101 will tell you this is a guaranteed way of ensuring that our inflation reaches double digits and forces out OCR up even futher.

I'm sorry but that's a F for fail.

Tomizone offers free WiFi to iPhone and iPod Touch users

By Steve Biddle, in , posted: 9-Jul-2008 14:52

It's interesting to see that Tomizone have announced free WiFi access for 3 months for all iPhone and iPod Touch users in New Zealand and Australia.

Free Wi-Fi Access

If you own an iPhone or an iPod Touch, then you can access our Wi-Fi Hotspots free of charge for up to three months or 500 Mb of data – whichever occurs first.

From Friday July 11th, any user accessing a Hotspot using these devices can take advantage of this promotion. In addition to emailing and web surfing, the Tomizone Hotspot allows iPhone and iPod Touch users to download music from the iTunes Wi-Fi Music Store, something users can’t do over the conventional 3G network.

We believe that our telco-independent Wi-Fi access service for iPhone and iPod Touch will be a major incentive for businesses such as hotels, cafes and coffee shops to install Tomizone Hotspots as a means of attracting new customers. All you need is a broadband connection and a Tomizone enabled Wi-Fi router to participate in this fast growing network.

Questions? Email us on help@tomizone.com

The world's best Hot Chocolate (tm)

By Steve Biddle, in , posted: 9-Jun-2008 20:29

While in Sydney last week I had the opportunity to visit Chocolateria San Churro (on more than one occasion I must admit!) and as a chocoholic myself I have recommend their Spanish Hot Chocolate as the best I have ever had.

The cheesecake complete with icecream and chocolate sauce also comes very highly recommended but take my advice - consuming both in a single visit may leave your blood sugar levels just a little on the high side! :-)

So if you love chocolate and are in Sydney or Melbourne (they are expanding their store numbers) then a visit should be top of the list. It's an 11/10 in my books!

As somebody who visits Australia quite regularly I can definately say I'll be back as soon as I hop off the plane!

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 stevenbiddle@gmail.com