Credit to Telecom, but a lot of work to do

Telecom has its XT and 111 woes, and the knives are being wielded across all media. Of course we in the blogosphere got our knives bloodied back in last year, and it just feels a bit sick to see the carnage now.

So let’s be nice and give credit to Telecom for three things:

  1. For building the XT network at all – they were stuck with an obsolete technology (CDMA) and made the best effort to get modern. It’s still the best network for the iPhone.
  2. For getting the network built so quickly – about a year I believe.
  3. For embarking on the required cultural change withing Telecom – kicked off by Paul Reynolds,

There is still plenty to do. Here are my top 3:

  1. The cultural change that is taking place within Telecom needs to be dramatically accelerated, and the XT outage is the proverbial burning platform that Reynolds and the team need to effect that change. I hear very positive signs from within Telecom, and the few that are not on board are, it seems, being asked to leave.
  2. Meanwhile Telecom also need to understand just what their core competencies are, and work to be best in the world at those. A hint – it’s not marketing, it’s not content, and it is not eCommerce – in fact Telecom is lousy at all three. My take on what Telecom should be immensely competent at is providing high quality telecommunications services at low cost, and providing superb customer service to demystify what is a complex technology for their customers.
  3. Finally Telecom needs to own their competencies – which means a reassessment of exactly what should be done internally and what should be out-sourced. While Alcatel-Lucent are looking pretty poor at the moment, in general vendors are only as good as their customers. Without knowing much I would guess that Telecom needs to be a lot more hands on in their control of their networks.

All this is happening while the Government is pondering next steps with the Ultra Fast Broadband submissions. It cannot bode well for Telecom. Why should the Government give Telecom the work when the installation and operation of it would probably be outsourced, when Telecom have a track record of under-investing and when through their part ownership of Southern Cross they have made monopoly type profits and constrained our international bandwidth?

License to operate

I believe that the media fest and the anger is a result of Telecom losing its license to operate. The public (and the Government with separation and perhaps with the UFBB contracts) are reacting to the years of poor practices and short term shareholder approach. The new board and CEO, and the turnaround work that Reynolds et al. are doing started years too late, and when we think of Telecom we think angrily of the sad legacy.

It’s similar to what happened to General Motors, who, in the USA, started making well-rated cars a few years ago, but found that the years of selling appalling vehicles created cumulative brand damage to the point where a critical mass of buyers would not want to buy or be seen in a GM car.

Telecom are, it seems, doing everything they can to get out of the situation, and to learn and grow stronger. They are lucky to be blessed with relatively incompetent competition that seems intent on ignoring their own advantages, and are inept at taking advantage of the current Telecom woes. More on that soon.

About Lance Wiggs

@lancewiggs
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