The good stuff? Their cabin manager now comes around the Air New Zealand Koru Lounges before boarding for international flights, introduces him/herself and even come back later to take us to the plane.
The bad stuff? Their loyalty program actually is everything but about loyalty.
For example I had a ticket Auckland - Los Angeles - Wellington. The electronic ticket was issued in Premium Economy but I used some of my upgrades to use the business class. Great stuff, all worked well so far.
Once I landed in Los Angeles I took another flight to Austin and back. The flight back from Austin to Los Angeles was with US Airways, a Star Alliance partner. As such I entered my Air New Zealand Airpoints number to claim some points. What a mistake!
You see, even though these tickets were not issued by Air New Zealand and not even in the same booking, Air New Zealand automatically reverted the 130 points I earned for each of the long haul flights and credited me with less points.
They say that if any Star Alliance flight is taken during 30 days of my Air New Zealand flights and if they decide these Star Alliance flights are part of my original journey, they will give me less points - less points on a full fare Air New Zealand ticket issued in separate!
Now the kick in my low area: Air New Zealand reduced the points by more than the Star Alliance points they gave me for the other flights. Which means these points will make it harder for me to keep my Gold status or go down to Silver status.
This, with the fact that cheaper domestic fares receive zero points is just another example of how Air New Zealand wants to destroy loyalty.
What a shame.
Just the summary for now, I am uploading some pictures when I am back in New Zealand. Some very interesting information about upcoming mobile platforms from AMD...
UPDATE: The link is now pointing to the correct page.
Then I found out Telecom had its own SIM cards for people to use with any unlocked GSM handset while overseas, instead of the more limited CMDA models available and I thought "why not then?"
Why not indeed. Before leaving home I inserted the Telecom SIM card in one of the i-mate Ultimate Windows Mobile devices I have here because those are quad-band GSM, EDGE and HSDPA devices. I also configured the data connection following the advice in this discussion.
And everything worked as expected - which means a great experience after all.
I turned the phone on in the LAX airport and almost instantly I had a connection to T-Mobile's EDGE service. Data roaming worked without a hitch, with my e-mails flowing to the device, quickly. My Twitter updates worked both via Fring as well as Internet Explorer mobile and everyone is happy.
Of course I could just as well get the Samsung CDMA Worldmode (which is both a GSM and CDMA device in one) and use it but it would be GPRS roaming only - and with the wrong GSM band for some places.
In all, with the right handset, Telecom has done really well. Good job. Now to use a T-Mobile Hotspot here at the airport, because that is still the cheapest option around here for mobile data.
Telecom is to outsource a contract to reshape its retail business to Indian company Tech Mahindra, a creation of British Telecom
Now I don't mind outsource of some functions. But how can Telecom New Zealand be sure their new provider knows what are the needs and requirements of the average kiwi consumer?
Until recently U.S. operators didn't offer an mobile data plan on prepay - forcing us to use the super very heavily expensive data roaming options from both Vodafone and Telecom New Zealand if a cheaper option such as Wi-Fi wasn't available.
Just so that you have an idea, Vodafone charges $10 per megabyte you use while in the U.S. if you are connected through AT&T or $30 per megabyte if connected to T-Mobile. Telecom New Zealand charges $12 per megabyte.
This is an absurd amount of money per megabyte and simply makes it almost impossibe for small companies to use mobile data as an effective business tool while overseas.
At last now you can get a data plan on prepay through AT&T. For US$19.99 a month you can buy the "MEdiaNet Unlimited" pack and even have it charged to your prepay balance. This is a 30-day unlimited Internet access through EDGE or 3G to their data services.
A couple of years ago I was attending the CES in Las Vegas and arrived in the city about 11pm. Not having Internet on the apartments and not wanting to go out hunting for Wi-Fi I used my (then) Vodafone SIM to access e-mai. That evening cost me about $600. Next morning I found out th McDonald's downstairs had Wi-Fi at US$1.95 per hour.
New Zealand companies would have to be dumb to give money away to mobile operators when a local SIM card option is available with unlimited data.
At least locally the operators are moving to a more acceptable price plan, with the latest Vodafone casual data rate and Telecom's free data with certain mobile handsets.
Research company Epitiro - which just released its first report on the state of New Zealand broadband (and discussed here on Geekzone) - is running a beta test of isposure, an interesting measuring tool that allows users to measure their Internet service, compare with other people's results in the same ISP, plan or region and even rate their ISPs in different aspects such as reliablity, customer services, perceived speed and value for money.
The service runs as a small application in your Windows-based PC, measuring different aspects of your connection at different times of the day when the connection is idle.
From their FAQ:
As an isposure user, you can access free, personalized reports on the isposure.com website from your Windows PC. (Sorry, we don't have a Mac compatible service yet). Compare the recent performance of your connection with the average performance of other local ISPs.
You may find that you could get a faster connection with another ISP. You may also find that you can get a lower cost connection with similar actual performance. Or for just a little more each month, you may be able to dramatically improve your service.
By registering some basic details about the area in which you live, isposure can show you reports comparing your connection to those of other users in your local area, city or region.
isposure is provided free to you. We provide performance data to Epitiro Technologies - the independent Global Broadband Performance Authority and the developers of the isposure application. They in turn analyse the output and provide the resulting performance reports to Broadband ISPs who are prepared to pay for the information. This information is exclusively limited to performance data and does not, and will never, contain any private information about users.
I am running it now and got some surprising results. You can download isposure now.
I will post an update with the answer as soon as receive them.
This week we have another telco CEO available for Q&A. Cecil Alexander, CEO, WorldxChange will answer questions you post in our forum.
It will be the same style: you post the questions in the forums, I will select ten or more questions and forward to Cecil.
This is part of a series of "You interview the CEOs" opportunities I am bringing to our users. Keep an eye here or in our Geekzone forums - more to come!
I only had to wait one hour, and here it is, a discussion about Vodafone's new $1 a day mobile data plan, including comments by Vodafone's man on Geekzone, Paul Brislen.
From July 28, customers will be able to surf the net, download music and games and play on their favourite sites without committing to a fixed monthly data contract.
The $1 a day casual rate gives customers up to 10MB of data – more than enough for most casual users on their mobile devices. Customers who go over that limit will be charged at $1 per megabyte and users who regularly need more can take advantage of our suite of data plans.
The new pricing is simple and affordable, and now applies to almost all internet data, including the Vodafone Live! portal. Sky Mobile TV and Vodafone Compass will continue to be free of data usage costs.
This mean the walled garden may become a thing of the past. It also means more people will be able to realise what mobile data can do for them - Trade Me is the largest web site in New Zealand, generating at some point about 60% of the national data traffic.
Telecom is already doing something in this area, with their "unlimited" mobile data for e-mail, but it is only for a specific phone model, but Vodafone is going a step ahead.
Anyway, a good step in bringing down data costs for the rest of us.
"CCTV helps prevent crime and also detect offenders and save evidence after crime has been committed. The wireless CCTV network not only enhances security over property but also greatly improves security for the people in and around Newmarket – shoppers, visitors and staff of the businesses operating in Newmarket,"’ said the office in charge of Newmarket Police, Wendy Spiller.
The monitoring personnel and street patrol units work in concert to hunt out potential problems and take action in full view of the cameras before an issue escalates.
"We are able to act on anything undesirable almost immediately. The monitoring personnel can focus and zoom the cameras on any problem area from within the police station, while simultaneously talking to a security patrol out on the streets. Images from the cameras are recorded and stored 24 hours a day, seven days a week and are immediately available to the Police,"’ said Newmarket Business Association general manager and project leader, Cameron Brewer.
"It’s a truly unique public-private partnership that has never been done on this scale and with this level of technology ever before in a New Zealand town centre," added Mr. Brewer.
This would be great if recent studies of CCTV programmes in London (UK) had not shown that CCTV are an invasion of privacy more than an effective security measure.
CCTV does not stop crime:
And researchers found that some of the schemes were botched, making them less effective. Six of the 14 control rooms were left unstaffed for part of the day or night. And in some cases, cameras could not capture clear images at night due to the glare from artificial lights.
The findings come as a blow to the Home Office, which has trumpeted CCTV as a key crime-fighting weapon for the past 10 years.
The report's author, Professor Martin Gill of the University of Leicester, said: "For supporters these findings are disappointing. For the most part CCTV did not produce reductions in crime and did not make people feel safer."
The only one of the 14 schemes found to be a success was targeted at car parks, where it led to a significant drop in vehicle crime. Other schemes in city centres, residential areas and hospitals produced no clear benefits.
CCTV boom has failed to slash crime, says police
CCTV doesn't reduce crime in UK
CCTV Frequently Asked Questions
What would you suggest? Do we need a nanny state? Do we need a surveillance police state?