Spend the $900,000 Telecom – you cheap sods


And there I was praising Telecom the other day – praise it seems that was all too soon. I am concerned that recent behavior is indicating that Telecom is back to its old monopolist ways.

I write of course of the XT network interference with the Vodafone network. The facts laid out in Vodafone’s submission and the court case – ably reported by the NBR – are on the surface pretty simple:

  • Telecom’s new XT network interferes with the Vodafone network
  • Telecom has known about this for a while
  • Telecom could have removed this interference by spending $900,000 to install filters

There is a bit more nuance in the court case, but as a customer I am mad enough as it stands.

Yes Vodafone could spend some money to maintain their own service quality, yes Vodafone coverage is not close to perfect anyway, and yes Vodafone could have formally engaged with Telecom earlier.

But one the thing that has changed is Telecom’s new network.

The absolutely crazy thing is that the $900,000 to update all Telecom cells is chump-change in this context, and by not spending it Telecom is not only risking a lot, they making us all suffer:

  • Telecom suffers as they suffer PR damage, just as they launch a new network
  • Telecom suffers if their launch date is delayed
  • Telecom and Vodafone suffer financial costs of the court cases
  • Vodafone suffers as their network quality drops precipitously
  • We all suffer as we all have even more lousy phone services
  • The lawyers win – they always do

It’s positively juvenile, and the sort of behavior I would have expected from the old Telecom administration.

So please wake up Telecom – and behave in a way that shows you care about all New Zealanders. Demonstrate some of the values that you are trying to show in the video you produced.

  1. Fess up, say you will install the filters as quickly as possible
  2. Install those filters within a week. Nothing is impossible
  3. Settle with Vodafone so that their lawyers don’t run your business.

In the meantime those in the executive suites please ask yourselves How did this happen? Was this a decision made at the top or were you as blindsided as much as we were? If you were blindsided then how could your culture let that happen?

Until you fess up and move on we are back to the old promote one way and behave in an entirely differnt way – it doesn’t work for children and it certainly doesn’t work on us adults.

We’ll find out tomorrow at midday whether Vodafone is vindicated, but in the meantime I just want my phone to work properly.

Published by Lance Wiggs


11 replies on “Spend the $900,000 Telecom – you cheap sods”

  1. I don’t think it’s as cut and dry as you’re suggesting. From what I’ve read it sounds like Vodafone may have tuned their masthead amps in a way that means they need to use less aerials, but the side effect of this is that they are more susceptible to interference. Telecom’s argument is that yes, there is interference coming from their network, but this is within the tolerance allowed by the MED. In other words Telecom’s network is operating within the letter of the law, and Vodafone’s network could be ‘tuned’ differently to make it more resistant to the interference. Also, Telecom could fit the filters which would prevent the interference from affecting Vodafone, but why would they do this when a) it will cost Telecom money, b) it is helping their competitor, and c) the filters reduce the range that Telecom’s towers can transmit.

    (disclaimer – I am not a lawyer, I am not an expert, and I could be completely wrong about everything I just wrote. But I’ve been reading both sides of the argument, so I feel like I have a reasonable understanding of what’s going on. I guess we’ll find out more tomorrow!)


  2. It really isn’t clear cut.

    I live in Chatswood on the North Shore. Five years ago I had a Vodafone mobile which worked perfectly well at my house.

    Three years ago my employer changed phone companies to Telecom, the phones worked, but not as well as on the Vodafone network.

    In November I left the job and switched back to Vodafone — zero reception in a house that had perfectly good reception two years earlier. The date appears to be before Telecom started transmitting on its new frequencies.

    My experience suggests the Vodafone network was already degrading before Telecom started testing its new network.


  3. The lawyer’s bills will be more than $900k….

    Note that this is Vodafone’s estimate on cost. In my experience you have to install filters per antenna. Frankly I don’t know of any filter that would be of the $1000 mark and you’d need multiple per cellsite. I think the total cost would be circa $5-$10 m.

    The other issue they have raised which is a red herring is the one around the situation getting worse as the sites are only 10-15% of power. When you build a new network, you optimise using tools that fully load the network. Otherwise as soon as you get a load on the network then you’re instantly sub-optimal due to cell breathing etc.

    There is much more to this than $1m of spend – it’s a property rights and impact on neighbours issue. Best analogy I can think of is one of a business that was, say, making noise. The noise at the boundary is within regulatory and resource consent limits. Your neighbour complains because they can’t sleep. Do you reduce the productivity of your business by running your machines at lower output or do you suggest your neighbour puts in place better insulation and you suggest you can contribute to make it happen (which is what it looks like Telecom offered before it went to court)?


  4. Miki
    Regardless of the actual cost – surely this is still chump change, especially when you consider the alternatives. VFNZ did say in court that it costs only $900 per cell + labour though.

    I read that VFNZ asked TCNZ to turn the power down on those high power tests – as the interference was too high.

    Bill, Stuartm
    I agree VFNZ seems to have been stretching their network, rather than spending the money to properly extend it. Regardless TCNZ was in the wrong.

    All – I did read all of the Vodafone submission – it makes interesting reading , especially in the context of the NBR reporting from the day in court. The final result speaks volumes


  5. The number of masthead amplifiers susceptible to interference is 24 out of 1,000 apparently. Voda says it has agreed to swap them out.

    To be honest, the whole thing is baffling. How could Telecom not have seen it coming?


  6. @Miki – No, they didn’t. I’m Telecom’s agreed to pay the costs for the problems caused so far. Any further expansion of the network then yes, both parties will err, come to the party, equally.


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