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New Zealand government using wiki and social media to design Digital Strategy

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 15-Apr-2008 12:34

The New Zealand government has asked us for comments on its Digital Strategy 2.0 - and the most interesting aspect of this update is the use of social media tools such wikis and blog-like comments on all sections of the discussion.

You should go ahead and read the NZ Digital Strategy 2.0, comment on the Draft, or participate in the Digital Strategy Wiki.

But you have to it quickly. Public consultation closes 12 May 2008 5pm.

9th Telecommunications and ICT Summit

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 15-Apr-2008 12:02

I just received the confirmation of my registration to attend the 9th Annual Telecommunications and ICT Summit, this year happening in Auckland, 23rd June 2008.

The speakers lineup looks good and it is the main reason I registered to attend the Summit. We will have the Hon David Cunliffe (Minister for Communications and Information Technology), Maurice Williamson (Transport, Communications & Information Technology Spokesman, National Party of NZ) plus Keynotes by
Dr Paul Reynolds (CEO, Telecom New Zealand), Russell Stanners (CEO, Vodafone NZ) and Dr Allan Freeth (CEO, TelstraClear).

One of the sessions will even have Michael Wigley & Stuart van Rij talking about "Regulatory and legal landscape for telecommunications & ICT". Stuart van Rij is a friend of mine, solicitor at Wigley & Company - look for him for all things ICT and law related.

Econet, I mean NZ Communications is live

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 15-Apr-2008 09:05

It looks like it finally happened. After years of promises and false starts, people are reporting another GSM network in New Zealand: NZ Communications (previously Econet Wireless) seems to be live in Auckland.

The reports in our forms are that NZ Communications is now accepting incoming roaming connections in Auckland.

It appears that it won't accept Vodafone NZ roamingon its network - I can't also find their official website even with all my "Google Mad Skills".

According to the companies website, in 27 March 2007 Econet Wireless changed its name to NZ Communications. At the time shareholders were ECONET WIRELESS LIMITED (London and Zimbabwe), HAUTAKI LIMITED (New Zealand) and KLR HONG KONG LIMITED (Hong Kong).

This post by Jama is an interesting view on a company launched in 2001 - it took them only seven years to get a cell site operational in Auckland.
During this time Telstra replaced its Australian CDMA network in record time with a fully operation HSDPA service covering the country, Vodafone has deployed WCDMA, HSDPA 2100 MHz and is right now finalising HSDPA 900 MHz deployment, and Telecom New Zealand announced its own EDGE/HSDPA network deployment to be fully underway in about one year total.

Some Freeview comments for newcomers

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 14-Apr-2008 08:43

A few weeks ago I posted a Freeview FAQ and so far it had a few numbers of readers, and still counting. There are still lots of discussions going on in our Freeview forums, and since a lot of people read my blog but don't visit the forums I thought it would be good to post some more information here.

Exactly what is Freeview HD? Freeview is the direction New Zealand broadcast is taking for its free to air channels - those channels you can receive on any TV without having to subscribe to a service. Freeview launched sometime ago as a sattelite (DVB-S) service covering most of the country.

But now it is coming with a "terrestrial" version (DVB-T) which will be initially available in the major centres and brings an even bigger change: high definition (HD) broadcasting.

The service has been in test mode for a few months and you can now buy the set top boxes from major retail stores. The first HD programmes shown in New Zealand was Boston Legal, on TV3. Other TV shows will be coming in this format, and soon some local content will be producted in HD.

What do you need for Freeview | HD? First you will need a receiver. It can be a set top box you buy from retails stores, or a Home Theatre PC (HTPC) with appropriate hardware and software.

You only need a HD TV if you want to see the HD content in full glory - in practice any existingTV will work and show HD shows in standard definition. In the future TV sets will come ready for Freeview | HD so you won't need an external set top box.

As for HTPCs, a warning! Not every "Home Theatre PC" will work 100% and not all those DVB-T cards and USB sticks in retail and auction sites will work without appropriate software.

For HTPCs you will need a state of the art rig, including a good video card, fast CPU and plenty of memory. The video card is an important piece of this, because the best ones will process the decoding on its own hardware, freeing up the computer's CPU for other tasks. If you don't have this combination you might have stuttering sound, synchronisation problems or poor picture quality.

You will also need software and codecs. The software that successfully captured Freeview | HD so far is GB-PVR (free), Media Portal (free) and dvbviewer. These are all for Microsoft Windows and at the moment we don't know of any software for Mac OS that can work with the local DVB-T flavour.

When you buy a DVB-T card or USB stick you should have in mind that most of those don't come with the software needed and you might have to purchase some software to use it. Don't trust people that say the card is 100% DVB-T compatible. It might be compatible with the DVB-T and HD flavour used in the UK or France, or Hong Kong, but the New Zealand service is so new many (if not most) of these cards don't have the software to support this, yet.

Today is the official Freeview HD launch in New Zealand. I will be attending the event (thanks Throng!) and will have the opportunity to get even more information about the service.

Telecom account support: stunning work there (not)

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 13-Apr-2008 13:24

I know it's a weekend, and it's great the Telecom support team actually worked on this request, but...

When I ported my Vodafone number to Telecom I asked at the store to use an existing account number I have with Telecom. They skipped that bit of my request, but that's ok - thought I could just consolidate the two accounts, since it's a lot of paper that comes every month for an account that is only $2.81/month (an old Xtra email I kept).

Anyway, instead of merging the accounts, it would be easier to simply skip the monthly paper statements and get it electronically on

So I added my mobile phone account - fine. Then proceeed to add the second account through a form request, which requires someone at the Telecom mothership to do for me.

Today I got a reply with these words:

I am unable to process this as the two accounts are in different customer names.

The Your Telecom service is registered via your customer number, you can have multiple accounts under the one customer number, and view these on the Your Telecom service under the one login.

The account number you have provide is not in the same name as your currently registered service, if you would like to view this account on your current login we will require the authority from the account holder to transfer the account and services to your customer number. This will mean you will become the owner of the line and be liable for any charges or changes made to the lines/services.

Both accounts have the same full name. Both accounts have the same address.

Most interesting there are two replies in the same e-mail. One suggests merging the accounts, the other says nothing can be done. Those replies came from two different people on the same case.

No, don't tell me to go back to Vodafone. First because I don't want. And second because it looks like it's an endemic problem with customer services in this country.

This takes me to the point... Customer Services in New Zealand is appaling. Most of the discussions on Geekzone are about customer services. Long wait times on hold, incorrect information provided, wrong service provided.

When are New Zealand companies going to wake up?

What O2 thinks of The Register and its readers - would it happen here?

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 12-Apr-2008 10:53

I read this discussion between two O2 PR people and had a laugh:

The discussion, between two in-house PRs, centred around how to paint those wanting more bandwidth than the 128Kb/sec O2 deems suitable as clearly being "a bunch of techie nerds".

Of course, these are communications professionals, so they wisely discuss how to avoid using that term, or as they put it, find "...a good way of saying they're all geeks".

I wonder which of the New Zealand telcos and ISPs have people working for them that think so highly of their customers.

I have one or two in mind. Your guess? Post in the comments.

Barcamp Mobile and Barcamp Auckland: mark those two in your diary now

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 10-Apr-2008 15:59

You have to mark these in your diary now: Barcamp Mobile, 25th and 26th April 2008, Offices of the State Services Commission, Molesworth St, Wellington.

This will happen at the same time as the Internet Identity Barcamp. I really recommend you attend this event if you are intested in any of those two topics.

The Barcamp Mobile will be of interest to anyone that live and breath mobile and wireless technologies: web, devices, hacking, services.

Another unconference event to attend is the Barcamp Auckland - 12th July, again like the first Barcamp Auckland in the Botany Downs Secondary College, Auckland.

The first Barcamp Auckland was great - unlike the Mobile Barcamp or the Internet Identity Barcamp, the Auckland Barcamp is not focused on a single area of technology and you will find lots of interesting things being discussed.

We saw 80 people attending the first Barcamp Auckland, and the organisers are looking at having 120 attendees this time.

Both Barcamp Mobile and Barcamp Auckland are happy to receive sponsorship.

Leaving Vodafone behind

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 1-Apr-2008 18:21

Today I walked into a Telecom New Zealand store and started the process to port the mobile number I've been using for the last ten years from Vodafone to Telecom.

This decision didn't come lightly. There are lots of things to consider - international roaming, handset availability, etc.

But seeing that Telecom is working on deploying their WCDMA network, which should be here by the end of the year, and since you can get a Telecom SIM card now to use it on any GSM phone while going overseas, I didn't see a reason good enough to keep me on Vodafone.

The Telecom store manager was really good - even when he told me I couldn't just put the 021 (Vodafone prefix) numberon my Okta Touch without losing the account settings I have with Telecom. After a few moments he came up with a good idea: just grab any old phone from the recycle bin and use its ESN number to hold my 027 (Telecom prefix) number for when I have another handset for that account.

This way he freed up my Okta Touch so I could port in.

If all is ok in about three days I should have all calls on this number going through Telecom New Zealand.

And no, I don't feel bad for leaving Vodafone behind. For a few months I've been contemplating doing it, but this week something happened that tipped me over to the other side.

Vodafone prepay porting woes

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 1-Apr-2008 12:23

A source tells me Vodafone NZ systems are down and any attempts to port a Telecom number into its prepay services can't be serviced at the moment.

The deadline for this service to be implemented is today. Will it work?

Opportunities in Next Generation Networks

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 28-Mar-2008 17:19

I have got an invitation to attend the 2nd Annual Opportunities in Next Generation Networks, which I am not able to attend due to some conflicts.

Here is part of the description:

Telecommunication carriers are not the only ones racing to build, deploy and launch a variety of access infrastructures for NGNs. In today’s digital and telecommunications world, industries which have up until now sat on the fringes of the industry are poised to enter the world of network owners and operators.

» New and old media firms
» Internet giants
» Utility and infrastructure providers
» Government, health and educational institutes

All of them have necessarily become stakeholders in the broadband end-game.

Some look to benefit from synergies, whilst others see new revenue and business streams.

There are even those for which high speed broadband has become a necessity, making NGNs the logical vertical extension of their businesses. And as for New Zealand, our digital ambition cannot be realised without a strong foundation (infrastructure) for which to deliver our next generation (children) into the global marketplace – on an equal fitting with their global cousins.

The Inaugural Opportunities in Next Generation Networks Summit 2007 argued strongly that the “generation of tomorrow” has become a redundant cliché. That generation arrived yesterday.

Was LLU too late? How fast can we move on it? Where will investment come from? What options do we have?

The agenda looks good. It is a shame I won't be attending.

freitasm's profile

Mauricio Freitas
New Zealand

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

I'm the Geekzone admin. On Geekzone we publish news, reviews and articles on technology topics. The site also has some busy forums. Also worth visiting is TravelTalk NZ, a community for travelers!

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 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.

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