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

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!

Vodafone roaming - what a joke

By Steve Biddle, in , posted: 31-May-2008 12:54

I typically go to Australia 3 or 4 times per year and while I am over there staying in touch is important so I take my mobile with me and use it on roaming.
It's been fascinating over the years to watch the price of roaming increase considerably. In 2001 Vodafone pioneered the concept of charging NZ customers the same price to roam on the Vodafone Australia network as what they paid at home. This was in part due to the competition with 4 networks (Vodafone, Telstra, Optus and OneTel) who were all eager for their chunk of the inbound roaming market.

This was fantastic - SMS's cost 20c while you were in Aussie, calls within Australia cost the same as a call inside NZ (less GST since it's not payable while roaming) and a call back in NZ or a roam forward (inbound) call cost the same rate as you would pay for a call to Australia (again less GST). Over the years as my plan has changed these costs have varied but for the last few years it has cost me NZ 43c per minute to answer a phone call while in Australia with a 1 minute minimum and calls then charged per second. This per second charging isn't just with Vodafone Australia - all inbound roam forward calls anywhere in the world were charged per second after the first minute.

Welcome 2007. Vodafone decide to overhaul their roaming and make life simple. The cost to answer a call no matter where you are roaming now costs NZ$1 per minute with absolutely no mention that these calls are now no longer rounded to the nearest second but are infact rounded *up* to the next minute. Suddenly my 43c per minute to answer a call is now $1 and each and every call is rounded up to the next minute. Sending a TXT message now also costs 80c - up from the 20c it cost back in 2001.

Good on ya Vodafone, shafting your customers yet again..

Isn't competition in the mobile marketplace fantastic?

By Steve Biddle, in , posted: 24-May-2008 16:02

The concept of paying for a phone is foreign to many people in other parts of the world. In the UK or Australia for example most of my friends have never paid for a phone, it's virtually an expectation that upon signing a term contract with a mobile provider that they will give you a free phone. Sadly for NZ we're the exception to the rule, not the norm..:-( 

Here in Australia at present you can pick up a free Nokia N95 for signing up to a 24 month $49 capped plan on Vodafone. That A$49 per month gets you $310 of network value

*Calls cost 40c per 30 seconds + a 30c connection charge.

*SMS's cost 25c

*PXT cost 50c each

*Data is $1 per 5 minute block for casual usage or $11.95 per month for 100MB  with excess data charged at 12c per MB.

Lets look at some average usage..for that $49 each month you could

*Send 200 SMS's

*Get your 100MB of data for mobile browsing

*Make 4 phone calls every day for 31 days and get approximately 250 minutes of anytime airtime for your calls. Calls are also rounded to 30 second blocks unlike NZ.

And remember that with your 2 year contract you get a free N95 and your total over 2 years is A$1176

Now think what you get in NZ for your money.

Bring on the competition in the NZ mobile market. It is sorely needed.

Don't just boycott BP - boycott the AA as well

By Steve Biddle, in , posted: 12-May-2008 18:29

As we all know the New Zealand Automobile Association are in bed with BP. Since the AA partnered with BP in their AA rewards program the AA have suddenly become very quiet when BP raise their fuel prices. This has been particularly noticeable over the past 18 months when BP have lead every price increase in the country. No longer do we hear the AA condemning fuel price increases like they used to do in the old days.

Today the AA have come out *justifying* BP's price increase today of 5c per litre saying that due to "falling margins" it's justified.

Excuse my english but WTF?

Exactly who do the AA think they are fooling? No other fuel company has raised prices and while margins have been falling over the past week why should the AA be accepting any increase when fuel prices are already at record highs?

I'd put money on it right now that if the AA publically condemned BP's price increase and advised all AA customers to avoid shopping at BP that we'd see an about face by BP and a backdown on their increase.

But no - the AA are too worried about their commercial agreement and instead don't give a shit about the motoring public of New Zealand. They are not an impartial organisation, they're puppets for BP.

Do your part - visit for contact details to make sure you get the message through to the AA.

BP have done it again!

By Steve Biddle, in , posted: 12-May-2008 11:45

What have they done I hear you ask?

If you've been following my blog you'll know what I mean! Smile

Vodafone NZ to sell the iPhone

By Steve Biddle, in , posted: 6-May-2008 18:27

The worst kept secret is finally out - Vodafone NZ will be selling the new 3G iPhone when it's launched very soon. I've known this for several weeks now but resisted the temptation to post about it but the news is now public, and I'm sure very exciting!

This is a huge coup for Vodafone NZ to have over Telecom! Vodafone's 900MHz UMTS network is going to be fantastic!

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