My window to the world

Telecom New Zealand to enhance mobile content?

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 17-Oct-2006 18:18

Until last week anyone in New Zealand (not using a proxy server) trying to reach would be automatically redirected to Telecom New Zealand's Xtra Mobile site. This was then.

I have just received a press release from Volantis, a U.S.-based company that specialises in delivering content to mobile devices, pointing out that Telecom New Zealand contracted their software and expertise to develop and deliver a Next-Generation Mobile site. The enhanced Xtra Mobile Services platform according to the release includes a selection of unique content for mobile devices.

The company supplied the New Zealand-based operator with its "Intelligent Content Adaptation solution, providing applications, tools and platforms that help delivering optimized services to mobile devices. Volantis extensive experience of serving content providers, mobile network operators, and enterprises, along with its standards leadership, enable a unique position for Volantis to create innovative technology for the Mobile Information Age that is more useful and more useable than the PC Internet of today."

I have just tried visiting and instead of reaching the local Xtra Mobile site I was redirected to the U.S. site - which I always expected to happen but wasn't the case in the last few months. And trying to reach the Xtra Mobile site manually just redirecs to the Xtra Games site, for now.

Perhaps the redirection is down until the new site comes alive? At the moment there is no information from the press contacts at Telecom New Zealand, but I expect to hear from them tomorrow about what exactly is being announced here.

By the way, Xtra PDA is a PDA-friendly website, perfect for use with Windows Mobile devices and other small screen devices.

UPDATE: The Xtra Mobile site is back again, no longer redirecting to Xtra Games.

Side note: In the last few weeks we've seen lots of rumours of Telecom parting ways with Microsoft in respect of the local XtraMSN partnership. We even heard of a possible association with Google. Which may or may not be the case.

Vodem and mac advert critique

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 17-Oct-2006 13:22

Some users have been talking about using the Vodafone vodem USB HSDPA modem with Apple Mac computers. The discussion on Geekzone is informative and it looks like people can expect to see a driver for Intel-based Apple Mac sometime soon.

In the meantime, some astute readers noticed that the following ad has three errors. Try finding them:

Vodafone vodem on Apple Mac

Found the errors? Here is the list:

1. The computer shown is a MacBook Pro (Intel-based Apple Mac), the vodem doesn't work with these;
2. the vodem is connected to the firewire port, when it should be connected to the USB port;
3. the cord connecting the vodem to the computer is a standard phone cord.

For a close up image of these ports, check this detail picture of a MacBook Pro and a PowerBook G4 on Flickr.

Broadband uptake in New Zealand: OECD numbers

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 14-Oct-2006 09:54

There you go. According to the last OECD Broadband statistics, New Zealand has got 479,000 broadband subscribers.

About 10.7% of our population are connected via DSL technologies, 0.5% use cable, and 0.6% use other technologies (satellite, cellular data).

These numbers put New Zealand in position #22 between Portugal and the Czech Republic.

The broadband (in % of population) uptake in this country, has been like this: 0.7% (2001), 1.6% (2002), 2.6% (2003), 4.7% (2004) and  8.1% (2005).

Go read all other numbers in the link.


By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 13-Oct-2006 17:20

I want to see Idiocracy. When is the opening in New Zealand?

Private Joe Bowers, the definition of "average American", is selected by the Pentagon to be the guinea pig for a top-secret hibernation program. Forgotten, he awakes 500 years in the future. He discovers a society so incredibly dumbed-down that he's easily the most intelligent person alive.


First Merlin XU870 HSDPA Test Results on Vodafone

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 12-Oct-2006 16:23

To be fair I tested the Merlin XU870 HSDPA/UMTS/EDGE/GPRS card from Vodafone New Zealand in the same spot where I tested the Vodem and the Sierra Wireless AirCard 850 before.

Not bad: 1.3 Mbps download, 344 Kbps upload speeds. I have the impression my cell site is on the 1.8Mbps list. Now I have to find where the 3.6Mbps cell sites are located...

As before I tested with

Merlin XU870 speed test

Vodafone vodem giveaway

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 10-Oct-2006 11:42

Nice. I just read in The Geekzoner (Tony Hughes) that we will have a Vodafone vodem to giveaway during tonight's Geekzone Weekly Chat (10 October 2006).

Vodafone vodem

You can find more about the vodem in my "unpacking the Vodafone vodem" review. You can use it to connect to Vodafone New Zealand's new HSDPA network for fast mobile internet connection on your laptop or desktop.

The Weekly Geekzone Chat happens every Tuesday from 8pm. We have an IRC Java client available here, but you can use any other IRC client. The Geekzone IRC channel is always live, with people talking there almost at any time of the day - and keen to discuss anything tech related - or not.

Thanks Tony for organising this, arranging the vodem and being overall a great moderator (as in great and large).

Vodafone New Zealand and IHUG

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 10-Oct-2006 09:32

A Vodafone conference call has just started, and Russell Stanners is right now providing more information about the Vodafone New Zealand and ihug deal.

As reported before (here, here and here), Vodafone has bought New Zealand ISP ihug for NZ$41 million.

Rusell confirms the business will be run as two different brands. Immediate market impact will be the offering of mobility within the ihug portfolio.

Vodafone is preparing to offer the whole spectrum of communications, from mobile voice, moble data and for the heavy users the landline option.

No new bundles were announced yet. Of course lots of references to unbundling (no pun intended) and waiting for the Commerce Commision decisions. In short, nothing new.

Russell pointed out that this is not a new type of deal for Vodafone. He cited the example of FastWeb, an Italian ISP who provides Vodafone Italy with broadband bundles. This is from the press release a few weeks back:

Vodafone Italy and Fastweb, Italy's leading alternative broadband provider, have today announced in Milan a joint initiative which will enable Vodafone Italy to offer its customers broadband internet access. The service, to be branded Vodafone Casa Fastweb, will be launched shortly.

Vodafone Italy customers buying Vodafone Casa Fastweb will be able to use their normal Vodafone services on their mobiles, make mobile voice calls to fixed line phones at fixed rates whilst at home and have access to Fastweb's broadband network, which covers approximately half the population of Italy at speeds of up to 20Mbps.

In the UK Vodafone has signed an agreement with BT Wholesale to provide its customers in the UK with Vodafone-branded consumer fixed-line broadband services. This partnership enables Vodafone's customers to benefit from bundled packages of mobile and broadband services in the entire UK.

Vodafone Germany offers a complete mobile solution for the single-number based on user's home area, called Vodafone at Home. It's not clear yet if Vodafone New Zealand would be offering a similar solution but incorporating the ADSL offerings from ihug.

Vodafone Germany is introducing a new fixed service based on cellular technology, providing voice and data for home users. The Vodafone At Home Mobile service costs €20 per month and includes 1000 minutes of talk time. Users can designate their At Home Zone, and any calls placed from the user's mobile phone while inside this area will be discounted from the included minutes.

The allowance include calls to other Vodafone mobile phone or landlines within Germany. When applying for this plan the user will also receive a standard fixed network number to allow friends and family to place calls without extra cost.

When placing calls outside the At Home Zone users will be charged at standard per minute rates. Users can freely move between zones and the call will be charged based on where the user was when placing the call.

The At Home Zone can be located within a radius of up to 2 kilometres around the registered At Home address. This means that At Home customers can make mobile calls in the garden, in the café or anywhere in this area.

This could be a sensible way to go, with a solution similar to Orange Unique Phone. In that solution Orange mobile users roam freely at home with a mobile phone connected to the broadband connection wirelessly over Wi-Fi, and over to the mobile network when out and about.

Vodafone New Zealand buys IHUG

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 9-Oct-2006 18:52

Not many details yet, but I just got an email about this: Vodafone New Zealand will hold a conference call tomorrow (10 October 2006) to explain in more details the communication sent to the ASX (Australian Stock Exchange) about the purchase of New Zealand ISP IHUG.

Vodafone Merlin XU870 Express Card in the house

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 9-Oct-2006 16:45

I have just unpacked the Vodafone Mobile Connect HSDPA/3G/EDGE/GPRS ExpressCard. This is the Vodafone branded Merlin XU870 HSDPA 7.2Mbps card. Yes, that's right - 7.2Mbps.

Vodafone HSDPA XU870 ExpressCard

The Merlin XU870 HSDPA 7.2 ExpressCard offers the flexibility of both HSDPA and UMTS in tri-band 2100/1900/850 MHz and in quad-band EDGE/GPRS 850/900/1800/1900 MHz capability.  The XU870 ExpressCard provides high-speed connectivity to HSDPA networks with data speeds up to 3.6 Mbps and ultimately 7.2 Mbps, with a software upgrade. It has an integrated antenna system design that incorporates an external flip antenna, maximizing data speed performance and allows for stronger network signal reception.

Of course we only have 3.6Mbps and 1.8Mbps HSDPA here in New Zealand, but Vodafone promised an upgrade to 7.2Mbps for 2007. Let's just wait and see!

In the meantime, I will take this card to the mall where I tested the AirCard 850 and the vodem before, to compare speeds.

UPDATE: You should check my XU870 speed test...

IBM Forum 06: what I am attending

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 8-Oct-2006 19:19

As posted here before I will be attending the IBM Forum 06, here in Wellington on the 9 October. I will be around all day, but here are the sessions that caught my interest and you are most likely to see me attending:

8.30amIntroduction & KeynoteIntro by Katrina Troughton (Managing Director, IBM New Zealand). Keynote by David Skilling (Chief Executive, New Zealand Institute)Keynote will focus on the challenges and opportunities to achieving a much stronger New Zealand - and how New Zealand leaders should respond.
9.45amThe Global Innovation OutlookSteve Bonnici (Managing Director, Urgent Couriers) who attended a GIO series in New Delhi.At GIO 2.0, IBM brought together 248 thought leaders from 33 countries, representing 178 organisations, at five locations across four continents to discuss key emerging trends, challenges and opportunities in business and society. Hear what these conferences uncovered about the future of your World, from one of New Zealand's participants.
10.30amThe evolution of digital communitiesRizwan Khaliq, Global Business Executive for IBM’s Digital Communities initiative.The exploding growth of wireless access and the convergence of wireless voice, data and video are transforming the operations of local governments.   Local and regional government agencies can leverage this new technology--and the solutions provided by it--to not only improve existing services but to also launch social and public safety services never before capable.  Discover how major cities worldwide are deploying applications and community services over wireless broadband networks to help promote social, economic and educational development. 
11.30amSecurity in the digital age - in the public and private sectors, and in the communityManeesh Tripathi  (Service Product Line Executive Global Technology Services, IBM Asia Pacific)The digital age has fundamentally changed the meaning of security. Identity, authenticity, intrusion, theft, refutability, surveillance - all take on new meanings and bring new complications. To businesses, to individuals, and to society. Maneesh will talk about the social and economical (as well as technical) implications of security violations and identity fraud, the blurring lines between information and physical security (i.e. someone stealing a swipe card and then using it to break into a building), new threats created by our increasingly mobile environment, and also highlight some more sophisticated nature security breaches, which he says are increasingly originated by organised crime.
1.45pmCanterbury District Health Board (CDHB) improves patient safety with wireless voice communicationsPaul Gee (Emergency Physician, CDHB), Barb Nelson and Tracey Williams (Senior Nurses, Voicera Team, CDHB)Effective communication between Christchurch Emergency Department's 150 employees was a huge challenge - putting significant pressure on nursing and medical staff. A voice-activated, wireless communication system has helped doctors locate the medical skills they need, improving work-flow and efficiency, decreasing delays and speeding delivery of care.
3.30pmUnified Communications - Driving the Customer ExperienceRoy Newbury (Manager, Unified Communications, Cisco Asia Pacific) and Alan Register (Enterprise Account Manager, Cisco New Zealand)True innovation through converged communications improves agility and responsiveness to new challenges and opportunities. It unifies all of an organisation’s communications solutions, devices, resources, and aligns with business processes to make interaction with customers, partners, vendors, and employees smarter, more personal, and more effective.  Learn how these innovations have become today's reality.  
4.15pmSametime 7.5, the future of real-time collaborationChris Sparshott (Software Specialist, IBM NZ) and Kathy Staples (System Engineer,  IBM Australia)Instant Messaging, integrated audio-web conferencing, location awareness, social networking, integration with Microsoft® Outlook/Office and mobile devices, open standards-based for ease of integration - Lotus Sametime 7.5 is the future of real-time collaboration.

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!

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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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