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Fallback to 2G or no fallback: the Vodafone vs Telecom question

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 21-Jul-2009 08:45

I just read a blog post about how some people are moving back from Telecom XT Network to Vodafone because "Vodafone offers 2G fallback".

If you didn't understand let me explain...

Vodafone New Zealand offers a 2G network (GSM) that cover a very big footprint. It also offers a 3G network that in some places overlaps with the 2G network, and in some other places goes beyond its boundaries. But the 3G network doesn't seem to have exactly 100% of the 2G network coverage.

Most handsets these days are 2G/3G. It means that if you use a 3G handset with the Vodafone service then at some point it will lose sight of 3G signals and automatically fallback to 2G services.

The transition is automatic and transparent. You shouldn't see any impact - except for mobile data being rocketed back to dial-up speeds while on 2G (as well as some services that only work on 3G such as music downloads, video streaming, etc).

Vodafone says they cover 97% of the areas where New Zealanders live, work, and play. This is not geographical coverage, but where most people are actually using it.

So Vodafone 100% of 97% = 2G + 3G.

Now let's see the Telecom XT Network case. Telecom decided at some stage that it wouldn't be worth investing on 2G. It's an old technology now on the way of museums and deploying it means maintaining two completely different networks.

So they decided to launch a pure 3G mobile network. That's why there's no "fallback" to 2G.

Telecom also claim to have 97% coverage of where New Zealanders live and work.

So Telecom 100% of 97% = 3G.

So all things being equal your Telecom 3G service is equivalent to the Vodafone 2G + 3G service - in terms of "coverage".

Obviously geographical coverage is not the same. The cellsites are built in different places. They face different directions. These companies use different bands (Vodafone uses 2100MHz + 900 MHz, Telecom uses 850 MHz) which means they have different reach in terms of distance and building penetration.

So it's clear that at certain point you might get a Telecom signal while nothing on Vodafone. And vice-versa.

If you need mobile coverage in a certain place and don't get signal from one company or another, then it makes sense to change provider. But changing (or not changing) because one service offers "fallback" is simply not the right thing.



NBR introducing paywall - and blaming bloggers

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 16-Jul-2009 16:20

The National Business Review (NBR) has decided to implement a "paywall" according to its publisher Barry Colman.

The story is developing on Computerworld (no I am not going to give NBR link love today):


The National Business Review is planning to lock down around 20% of its web content for the first time from tomorrow.

In a notice to newsletter subscribers, NBR publisher Barry Colman says selected top stories will be available to paid subscribers only.

Colman writes the "madness" of existing media models has seen aggregators profit from the supply of free news copy. 

"Worse still the model has spawned a huge band of amateur, untrained, unqualified bloggers who have swarmed over the internet pouring out columns of unsubstantiated 'facts' and hysterical opinion," he writes.

"Most of these 'citizen journalists' don’t have access to decision makers and are infamous for their biased and inaccurate reporting on almost any subject under the sun (while invariably criticising professional news coverage whose original material they depend on to base their diatribes)."


I agree that a certain number of bloggers will parrot stories out of mainstream media. Also that some will have unsubstantiated "facts" and "opinions".

But no one owns the only true point of view, isn't that true?

The other way around is also true. Many times I've been asked by Geekzone users who had posted in our forums and had been contacted by journalists interested in getting more details so they can write stories for their newspapers . Many times I got a scoop and posted here in the blog, just to see it in the technology-dedicated pages of the MSM a few days later.

For example I think it's a great coincidence to have someone talking about IQ Test scams on Geekzone, and seeing a story about IQ Test scams in one of our two main newspapers about 45 days later...

Or the whole New Zealand DIA Internet censorship story - posted here last weekend and in other blogs and now showing up on NBR where they say:

"Bloggers have been immediately dubious about the Department of Internal Affairs’ new filtering programme, officially announced today." and also "Bloggers have noted that the $150,000 for the software only accounts for part of the extra $611,000 extra allocated to the DIA for online enforcement in the budget."

Obviously the NBR thinks bloggers can be good sources too...

UPDATE: Very good analysis with brilliant suggestion by Bernard Hickey.

UPDATE: It will fail.




My technology kit - full disclosure

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 13-Jul-2009 15:41

This is a (continuously changing) list of things and services I have here on loan.

Full time job: I now work for Intergen and while they are understanding of my involvement with the Geekzone community and website, the company is not involved with Geekzone or my other activities.

On Loan:

On Long Term Loan:
  • HP Folio 13
  • HTC One M7
  • Cradlepoint PHS300 
  • HP Microserver
  • Logitech Performance M950 mouse
  • Flip MinoHD
  • Blackbox C18 earphones
  • Philips Oakley headphones
  • Logitech Skype HDTV Cam
  • Nike+ Sportwatch GPS
  • Audiocodes MP264 router
  • Fritz!Box with Snap Internet service
  • Fitbit Charge
  • Google Chromecast
Some things I have here and it's worth saying "I pay for it myself":
  • Office 365 Microsoft Exchange Online
  • Vodafone Internet cable service
  • HDHomeRun
  • Fitbit Flex
  • Amazon Kindle 
  • Amazon Fire TV
  • Gigabyte Brix
  • Apple iMac  
  • WorldxChange VFX VoIP service for home use
So what's the difference between a "On Loan" and "Long Term Loan"? Basically "On Loan" means it will be returned to the manufacturer or PR agency sometime in the very near future. "Long Term Loan" means the manufacturer or PR have either sent the hardware or software without expecting it to be returned and because of use and tear I can decide myself to either return, give it away, or keep it.

If you follow me around on Geekzone and Twitter you know that I pretty much give almost everything away after a while.

I also attend some conferences and other technical events, as a guest - sometimes I pay my travel/accommodation, sometimes this is covered as part of the invite. It doesn't mean I have to write good things about anyone though.

I don't take cash or equivalent for writing. I am not posting links to these products because it's not a URL drop post. It's a disclosure post. Like it or not.

[Updated 22 December 2014]



Companies fail to deal with technology: telephone numbers and voicemail

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 12-Jul-2009 17:28

I just had a laugh now when I read Ari's tweet about his experience with Post Haste, a New Zealand courier company:



Yes, I just called their local offices on a Sunday evening to listen myself and their voicemail recorded greeting say "You called us outside our office hours. To book an emergency courier call 025 ...".

For those who don't keep pace with this moving world of telecommunications, 025 is the non-geographical prefix used by Telecom New Zealand for their old TDMA network. This means there used to be a mobile network in New Zealand that used the 025 prefix.

Telecom shutdown the 025 network 31 March 2007 6pm. This was more than two years ago.

Like Ari I wonder how many emergency courier jobs Post Haste missed in those two and a half years of voice mail redirecting their customers to a non-existant number. I also wonder if no one in the company ever thought of looking for a reason in dropped jobs at weekends and week nights...

But they are not alone. I see lots of vans driving around town with old 025 numbers still printer on the sides. Those people who need jobs now more than ever are losing for not updating something as simple as a number on the side panel of their van...

This is how low tech people can be.





Government plans to filter New Zealand Internet

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 11-Jul-2009 12:45

I am a member of the InternetNZ and I have just been reading its internal mailing list about the frightening possibility of Internet filtering coming to New Zealand, courtesy of our Department of Internal Affairs.

There's a good FAQ on Internet Filtering in New Zealand out there and I will quote a couple of items:


New Zealand’s censorship laws forbid viewing or owning certain types of material (e.g. depictions of bestiality or sex with children) and this applies to material accessed over the internet too.

At this moment it [New Zealand] does not [have Internet filtering]. However, the Department of Internal Affairs ran a trial internet filtering scheme in conjunction with Ihug, Watchdog, Maxnet and TelstraClear in 2007/2008 and is planning to fully implement it in 2009/2010.

[There is now ["Internet Filtering Law"]. [The filtering] it is being done under the Films, Videos, and Publications Classification Act 1993. This gives the responsibility for enforcement to the Department of Internal Affairs.

The scheme is currently voluntary for the ISPs (Internet Service Providers) as there is no law to force them to use it.

The filter is applied at the level of the IP address but it is common for a web server to host multiple websites on a single IP address. All requests to a website on one of the filtered IP addresses will be diverted to the DIA’s server.

ISPs can choose whether to subscribe to it or not. The only way [for a person] to opt-out of the filtering is by switching to an ISP that doesn’t implement it. ISPs that have implemented it so far have not provided a way to opt out of it.


The list of sites is manually compiled by DIA officers. They will update the list monthly and only after the review and agreement of a few officers.

Initially they plan to filter any website carrying child abuse related material.

Here is a series of questions sent to the DIA under the Official Information Act 2002 with respective answers.

I personally don't like the idea of a government body overseeing what I can read. It's my personal believes that prevent me visiting websites that carry this kind of material.

What really worries me is that it looks like there isn't an oversight of this process, there isn't a publicly available list of blacklisted websites, and no guarantees that a secret meeting between government agencies wouldn't in the future add other "categories" to this list.

Internet filtering gives the government - any government - the resources they need or want to prevent people connecting to each other by the means of the Internet, one of the most liberating tools available to its citizens.

If you are a grown up you don't need a nanny state to tell you what you can read or not. You know you shouldn't be reading or trading this kind of material. If you still decide to access, promote and distribute any objectionable material, then feel free to join these other offenders.

If you have kids at home there are software - such as the free Microsoft Windows Live Family Safety - that allows you to help them stay away from objectionable material, while you, responsible parent, educate them on how to use the Internet sensibly.

But I don't think a government should tell me what I can see or read because of some criminals who have no common sense.

Burning books was bad. Breaking the Internet may be worse.

UPDATE: Scroll down in the comments, where I posted a copy of the New Zealand DIA press release issued 16 July 2009.

UPDATE: I also recommend you read foobar's take on this issue.

UPDATE: Telecom has released a document on how to keep kids safe on the Internet.



Browser wars: Internet Explorer 6 is not going away

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 11-Jul-2009 10:41

A few months back I posted that Firefox was the #1 browser here on Geekzone for the first time ever, with Microsoft Internet Explorer coming second.

Of course I expected a bigger number of Firefox (and other browsers) users because of the more tech savvy audience we have - I bet Internet Explorer is way ahead of Firefox in more mainstream New Zealand websites such as Trade Me, Stuff and the NZ Herald for example.

I've looked at the stats again this month and found out that of more than 2.1 million unique visitors in the last three month period, Internet Explorer is again ahead of Firefox. Could it be because of the number of people using Windows 7 RC for testing?



Interesting to see Google Chrome coming up so quickly on Safari.

What really surprised me though is that of those 900,000 unique visitors using Internet Explorer in that same three months, the number of Internet Explorer 6 users is practically the same, with Internet Explorer 8 gaining over Internet Explorer 7 mainly:



This is about 200,000 people visiting Geekzone every three months that still have Internet Explorer 6 as their main browser. I'd again guess this percentage is probably higher on those other mainstream sites.

Does people update their Windows PCs, at all?



Two Degrees Mobile starts TV advertising with Rhys Darby

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 5-Jul-2009 19:00

New Zealand's newest mobile network, Two Degrees Mobile, finally coming into the public view with a prime time ad with Rhys Darby of The Flight of the Conchords fame. As expected there's a discussion on Geekzone, and here is the ad:



Moving from Telecom CDMA to Telecom XT

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 3-Jul-2009 17:54

After using a Telecom XT SIM card that was sent to me for review I finally decided to move my personal account from their CDMA network to the new XT Network.

A couple of reasons why I did the move: first, moving to equivalent plans I'd be paying about 50% less than on my previous plan - and no term contract!

Second, there are no queues in store now. Moving plans took all of five minutes. I inserted the new SIM card in my handset just after I signed the paperwork - and it was working already. It means my change to XT Network happened even before I moved away from the desk.

Good job!

PS. Now I remember a third reason: I don't need to carry my personal handset and a test handset anymore.



Brand management is important

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 2-Jul-2009 08:53

What happens when your company has the rights to sell a product using a third party's branding, but use this other company's branding innapropriately?

You may ended up not having the product to sell at all...




New Air NZ flight safety video (with body painting)

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 26-Jun-2009 18:03

It looks like the Air New Zealand folks can't keep their clothes on... This time they have produced a new flight safety video to be used on their Boeing 737-300 domestic services (on flights from 29 June 2009):



Update: As noted in the comments there's a bloopers video too:



freitasm's profile

Mauricio Freitas
Wellington
New Zealand


I live in New Zealand and my interests include mobile devices, good books, movies and food of course! 

I work for Intergen and I'm also the Geekzone admin. On Geekzone we publish news, reviews and articles on technology topics. The site also has some busy forums.

Subscribe now to my blog RSS feed or the Geekzone RSS feed.

If you want to contact me, please use this page or email me freitasm@geekzone.co.nz. Note this email is not for technical support. I don't give technical support. You can use our Geekzone Forums for community discussions on technical issues.

Here's is my full disclosure post.

If you'd like to help me keep Geekzone going, please use this Geekzone Amazon affiliate link when placing any orders on Amazon.

A couple of blog posts you should read:

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