If reports are true, the New Zealand government have plans to subsidise Igloo set top boxes when the old analogue TV signals are turned off next year.
According to the New Zealand Herald:
The move is aimed at easing the transition to digital transmission, but would fit with Government policies that promote pay TV and undermine Freeview and the free-to-air TV sector.
Igloo is a digital receiver with a pay-per-view option. It will receive all open free-to-air channels, plus you can pay a monthly fee to receive additional channels, supplied by Sky. You will also be able to pay to watch specific movies or events. It is 51% owned by Sky Television.
If the New Zealand government wanted to give subsidies to help the transition between analogue to digital TV next year it should go to Freeview, our free-to-air broadcast platform, not to a private platform owned by a company that already dominates the satellite TV market in this country.
Just received this press release today, and it affects New Zealand-based media companies in general and bloggers in particular. I strongly suggest you go to the Law Commission website, download the document Review of Regulatory Gaps and the New Media and submit your comments:
THE NEWS MEDIA MEETS 'NEW MEDIA': RIGHTS, RESPONSIBILITIES AND REGULATION IN THE DIGITAL AGE
The Law Commission is seeking New Zealanders' views on the role of the news media in society and the standards to which they should be held to account.
In its latest Issues Paper, The News Media Meets 'New Media': rights, responsibilities and regulation in the digital age, the Law Commission puts forward a number of preliminary proposals for reforming the regulatory environment in which the news media operate.
It also asks whether the legal rights and responsibilities which have traditionally applied to news media should be extended to some new media publishers, such as current affairs bloggers and web-only news sites. [my emphasis]
Commissioner John Burrows said the news media, like every institution, have been profoundly affected by the internet. They no longer have a monopoly on the generation and dissemination of news.
"This Issues Paper looks at what distinguishes this special class of publisher called the 'news media' from other types of communicators.
"It asks whether, and how, the news media should be regulated in this digital world in which the traditional boundaries between print and broadcasting are dissolving, and where anyone can break news and comment on public affairs."
The Commission's preliminary proposal is to replace the Broadcasting Standards Authority, which currently regulates all traditional broadcasters, and the industry-based Press Council, which regulates print media, with a new converged news media regulator that would be independent of both the Government and the news media.
The Commission is suggesting the new independent regulator could extend its jurisdiction to any new digital publishers, such as bloggers or news websites, who wished to access the legal privileges and exemptions currently reserved for traditional news media organisations.
"The regulator we are proposing would have no impact on citizens exercising their free speech rights on the internet. It would only apply to those who wished to be classified as 'news media' for the purposes of the law," said the project's lead Commissioner, Professor John Burrows.
Professor Burrows said the Commission was also asked to look at a second question: whether the laws which deal with crimes such as harassment, intimidation, defamation, and breach of privacy are fit for purpose in the digital age. This inquiry extends beyond the news media to all forms of communication.
"Our preliminary consultation with groups such as NetSafe indicates that alongside the positive impacts of the internet there is always the potential for humans to abuse this extraordinary new technology. Our report contains many examples of how these abuses can result in serious harm."
The Commission is seeking public feedback on a proposal to establish a special Communications Tribunal, that would operate at a lower level than the courts, but which would be able to grant a range of remedies including, for example, take down orders, when content clearly breached the law and could cause serious harm.
"NetSafe tells us that many people come to them feeling defeated and powerless after attempting to have seriously offensive or damaging material taken down. What is needed is a body capable of taking swift and proportionate action when there has been a clear breach of the law."
The Commission is also proposing amendments to a number of statutes, including the Harassment Act, the Telecommunications Act and the Human Rights Act , to ensure provisions designed to prevent serious speech abuses are capable of being applied in the digital era.
It is also considering recommending making it an offence to incite someone to commit suicide, irrespective of whether or not they do so, or attempt to do so, and an offence to impersonate someone with malicious intent.
"We hope this paper, and the preliminary proposals it makes for reform, will be widely debated in New Zealand - in both traditional and new media fora. The issues it grapples with are vital to the health of our democracy."
Submissions on the paper can be made until 12 March, 2012. The Commission will also be hosting online forums to debate its proposals in February 2012.
- What is Igloo?
Igloo comes with an easy-to-install set top box with no long term contracts and no termination fees! You pay for what you want to watch when you want to watch it. This is pre-pay TV!
Igloo offers a great range of free to air channels and pay television channels, plus over a 1,000 pay-on-demand titles to choose from and live pay-per-view sporting events too.
Even if you don’t buy the 11 channel pack you can still use your Igloo set top box to watch all of the free to air channels, and you can still purchase any of the great live pay-per-view sporting events and/or rent any of the 1,000 plus video-on-demand films and TV episodes. That’s just great flexibility.
- Why do we need another TV service?
Kiwis want an option between SKY and free to air television – that’s exactly what Igloo is. New Zealanders told us that – as long as it’s flexible and on their terms – there is a market and there is an opportunity in the 50% of households that don’t currently subscribe to pay TV.
Kiwis want a lower price point, more flexibility, and they want choice in the form of additional ‘quality content' to the free to air channels that they currently receive. We think that Igloo meets all those needs head on.
Igloo is aimed at people for whom TV viewing is occasion-based; they don’t want a long term contract. Consumer research showed us that people want flexibility and choice without the big price tag. That’s a perfect description of Igloo.
For around $25 Kiwis can receive 11 channels of great content for 30 days on top of all free to air channels (in Hi Definition when available).
There is also access to a video-on-demand library of more than 1,000 titles to rent from and great live pay-per-view sporting events.
The Igloo box also comes with live pause, a handy home media player and so much more.
This is really the simplest, most flexible, no termination fees, pre-pay model.
- How many channels?
Our 11 channels are:
- BBC World News
- BBC Knowledge
- MTV Hits
- National Geographic Channel
- Animal Planet
- Comedy Central
- Food TV
- TVNZ Heartland
- Will you release more channels in the future?
Flexibility and simplicity came back time and time again in our consumer research. And we modelled Igloo on these consumer insights. We believe Igloo is exactly what Kiwis want.
- Where can I buy it?
- 8. How complicated is installation?
You should not need a technician but if you do we are happy to help.
We have put a lot of research into ensuring that Joe Public can pull it out of the box and hit play.
- And for those that fail?
And if they can’t nail down the issues then people have the flexibility to call in a third party to help them with the installation.
At launch we will have an Auckland-based customer support team ready to take calls.
- Any video on demand?
- How much to rent an On Demand title for a 48 hour period?
- Can I purchase sports?
- Will the film download to my hard drive like MYSKY?
After purchasing a film you will have 48 hours to watch it as many times as you wish.
- Can I live pause?
A USB stick allows you to live pause and also to buffer for up to four hours depending on the size of your USB stick.
- Will the system have parental locks on it to prevent children seeing inappropriate films?
- 16. Will streaming eat into my datacap?
However, to put that in perspective, a full feature film is only 2GB and, according to our research, most Kiwis have a datacap of at least 20GB per month.
- If my internet connection drops out will I lose the film?
You have 48 hours to watch the programme as many times as you want.
- Will free to air channels be available?
- Will there be an alert function where you can book programmes and the EPG will tell you when they are about to start?
- How many free to air channels will you offer?
- Will you add more pay channels in the future?
TelstraClear "unleashed" an unmetered weekend. And what a weekend it has been (still Sunday morning here). If you are not in New Zealand you should know most ISP plans are "metered", i.e. customers have a usage allowance measured in GB, with overage charges after that.
TelstraClear is the country's second largest ISP and boldly announced all data traffic from Friday 2nd Dec 2011 6pm through Sunday 4th Dec 2011 would be "unmetered", meaning this traffic would not be counted towards the customers' usage.
Obviously people would take advantage of this, by either uploading their digital content to online storage and backup, downloading as much content as possible for later viewing, or watching as much as possible YouTube, or using video calls like crazy - it's almost Christmas after all.
There's a long discussion on Geekzone on "how was your TelstraClear performance during free data weekend" and comments on NBR here.
Here's an interesting comment on Geekzone:
I must confess that I'm a bit confused as to why people are painting TelstraClear as callous, outrageous, moronic, illegal gits for actually TRYING to do, for once, what people have been clamouring for - "all you can eat" broadband.
Be careful what you wish for.
I decided to post my reply to this comment in this blog post as well, to make it more visible outside the forum. And I agree with the gist of that comment.
This is because ISPs can't provision resources based on a constant peak demand, because what happens with all those resources during non-peak times? Who's paying for that? The costs would be enormous, which would of course be reflected on prices to consumers.
This "experiment" weekend by TelstraClear is not even a valid model showing how much resources the second largest ISP would need, because people are actually using a lot more than they would normally, just because this is an unusual event.
In effect what we are seeing here is the most demanding usage the network would be required to service. But not necessarily the demand an all you can eat plan would require in "normal" sense.
What are your views? Do you think unlimited plans are a good idea? Or do you think metered plans are better? What would you suggest to limit the impact of the Tragedy of Commons for example, where a few use all the available limited resources that should be shared by a larger group?
But thanks to some dedicated people, who joined in the hunt for a fault, we now know this is a hardware fault, even one that was not seem before (thanks to us here using a new technology).
Those people worked after hours to find what is wrong, and for this I am thankful. You know who you are. Have a good weekend folks.
I tried swapping the router, direct connection from a PC to the modem, etc. Called their help desk and had someone reset my connection on the cable node. Note my connection is one of the very few 100 Mbps service in Wellington, so I thought it could be some configuration on the node, or the Cisco modem being one of the old DOCSIS3 version.
Fast forward to this weekend. TelstraClear made a big noise about their "unmetered broadband" weekend and I thought I'd take advantage of that - first to push my connection to the max, while the entire network is being used at its max.
Thirty minutes into a 60GB download (I'm copying a couple of virtual machines down as a backup) and an extra 10 GB upload to my Crashplan online backup, the connection died.
Again, before calling TesltraClear I tried all we know they were going to ask: swap router, plug a PC directly to the cable modem, etc. The modem won't come online.
Then I decided to call TelstraClear. Unbelievable. Their customer services is closed, and won't open until 9am, about 14 hours away. On the weekend they announced to everyone to push their network to the limits. For me, it's a fiasco.
All the good will they brought in when they announced a good reduction in broadband prices for this month is gone now. I can't work, cant do the things I wanted to do, and the LEDs in their frigging modem are blinking, without being able to connect.
UPDATE: We have now at least three people looking into this. After many remote resets and all, still no traffic. Everyone around seems happy, so it could be the hardware. If nothing works it looks like I will have to get a modem replacement.
Many thanks to those people working late at night trying to figure out what's going on.
UPDATE: It is now decided this is a hardware fault. So now we wait for a new box to arrive.
Again, thanks to those who joined a call late at night to figure this out, including those working from home.
Dates are not locked in yet, but it will be somewhere around February/March 2012. We are now looking for drinks sponsors, and prize donors. Check out 2011's sponsors and 2010's list.
This year I am thinking of getting a little bigger, with 80 people attending in Auckland, 80 people in Wellington and 60 people in Christchurch. I hope we have a great event in Christchurch, since last year's had to be cancelled after the terrible earthquake.
As usual these will be open to Geekzone users only, over 18 years old (because the beer rolls free until our bar tab is gone). Similarly to last year's we will be charging a $5 booking fee. That's because we pay the venues based on number of people booked, and in previous events we found out there's a large number of people who booked and didn't show up, so we had to pay for them anyway.
Booking will again be staggered: Geekzone subscribers will receive the link first, followed by other users a day later. Users can buy an extra ticket for guests, at full price.
Keep an eye on this discussion for updated information. We will send email notifications to everyone who replied there before the registrations open.
I am told IBM has completed the software research project for the Square Kilometre Array (SKA) Global Telecospe. While we wait for a decision where the SKA is actually being built (contenders are Australia/New Zealand and South Africa), here's an infographic showing how big Big Data is when it comes to this project (click image for larger version):
SKA will be the world's largest and most sensitive radio telescope. It has been estimated that the SKA will generate in excess of one Exabyte of raw data in a single day - more than the entire daily internet traffic. One of the central design challenges of the SKA project is how to process this huge volume of astronomical data and enable insights to be drawn from it.
A couple of months ago I was contacted by Computerworld to give some information about our use of a New Zealand-based datacentre. The story "The rise of the local datacentre" is now live on Computerworld.
Having a local datacentre provider is vital to Geekzone.
"Our analytics tell us that 55 percent of our traffic is from New Zealand and about 70 percent of this local traffic comes from Auckland," says Freitas. "Having servers in Wellington would add unnecessary hops to the majority of our readers, and having servers overseas would add to the international latency. Also, having local servers allows our local readers to reach the site even if their ISP's international links are down or overloaded."
"We looked at Intergen in Wellington, which is not the largest but has a nice infrastructure," he says. "But because of the Auckland numbers we decided to keep the services there."
Freitas believes in being closer to customers, mainly because of speed.