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Igloo FAQ

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 7-Dec-2011 16:45

Just received the press release about Igloo, the new TV service coming to New Zealand in early 2012, results of a partnership between Sky Television (51%) and TVNZ (49%). Here is the FAQ for this service:

  • What is Igloo?
Igloo is an exciting new pre-pay telly service which offers Kiwis more choice and flexibility than ever before. It’s the first of its kind. 

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?
Because Kiwis have asked for it. We’ve just completed 6 months of research where we asked Kiwis about every part of their TV experience, from what they wanted to pay, to what they wanted to watch, even down to the look and feel of the set top box and we took all of that research and created Igloo. 

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. 

  • Cost?
The retail price of the set top box is yet to be confirmed but we are aiming to sell it for under $200. 

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?
Igloo offers a 30 day pack of 11 linear channels. Plus all the free to air channels. 

Our 11 channels are: 
  1. Vibe
  2. UKTV
  3. BBC World News
  4. BBC Knowledge
  5. Kidzone24
  6. MTV Hits
  7. National Geographic Channel
  8. Animal Planet
  9. Comedy Central
  10. Food TV
  11. TVNZ Heartland
The selection of these channels was very much informed by the research we conducted amongst our target market. We are offering a broad range of quality content which will please lots of people – from news junkies who love the BBC, to music lovers, from drama fans to wholesome shows for kids, plus all sports buffs can purchase live pay-per-view sporting events. 
  • Will you release more channels in the future?
No additional channels will be launched in the foreseeable future. 
  •  Contracts?
No long term contracts, no termination fees. That is why this is such a flexible option. You can opt in and out of paid content whenever you want, paying through the set top box, via the website, or via our call centre. 

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?
Igloo will be available at high street retail outlets nationwide and also online through our Igloo website 
  1. 8.      How complicated is installation?
Easypeazy, out-of-the box self-installation. All you need is a UHF aerial on the roof and a TV – no matter how old it is! 
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?
If people have any problems we’ll have an Auckland-based call centre team ready to talk them through it step-by-step. 

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?
Yes, we will launch with over 1,000 films and TV series. 
  • How much to rent an On Demand title for a 48 hour period?
It’ll vary between $4 and $7 per movie and $1 and $3 per TV episode. 
  • Can I purchase sports?
You can purchase live pay-per-view programmes such as big rugby games or a netball game. You don’t need to have bought a channel pack to access sport content. Prices will be announced later. 
  • Will the film download to my hard drive like MYSKY?
No, it will stream over the internet. 

After purchasing a film you will have 48 hours to watch it as many times as you wish. 
  • Can I live pause?
Yes you can by simply plugging in a USB stick. 

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?
Yes, there will be a parental lock for all Igloo channels. 
  1. 16.  Will streaming eat into my datacap?
Streaming will use your data. 

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?
No you won’t lose the film. The system will handle the fluctuations in internet speed. 

You have 48 hours to watch the programme as many times as you want. 
  • Launch?
Igloo will launch in the first half of 2012, to offer a great alternative in time for the beginning of the Digital Switch Over (DSO) in September 2012. 
  • Will free to air channels be available?
Yes all free to air channels (in Hi Definition when available) come standard with Igloo plus so much more whenever you want it. 
  • Will there be an alert function where you can book programmes and the EPG will tell you when they are about to start?
Yes, reminders are available for all channels. 
  • How many free to air channels will you offer?
All of them, the Igloo box can tune to all free to air channels, including regional free to air ones. 
  • Will you add more pay channels in the future?
We are happy with our launch line up and there are no plans to change the channels but as with every new product we’ll need to see how it is received by customers so future changes are possible. 

The TelstraClear unmetered weekend, and asking you for ideas

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 4-Dec-2011 09:51

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 TelstraClear redeems...

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 2-Dec-2011 22:59

Sorry folks if my previous post was a bit harsh. Trying to get things done here, taking advantage of an exceptional offer of free data. Then things die after only 30 minutes.

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.

Unbelievable TelstraClear...

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 2-Dec-2011 19:41

A couple of weeks ago I was battling with some small outages on my Telstraclear cable service. The connection would drop for 20 to 30 minutes and come back, once every evening. Then one evening it was down and I decided to "rest". Next morning, almost 12 hours later, the connection was still down.

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.

Plan for Geekzone Freeview Pizza 2012!

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 2-Dec-2011 12:30

We have just started talks for our annual Geekzone pizza evenings, and for the third year in a row Freeview has confirmed its support to the event. We very grateful for this (make sure you visit their site to check what/how/why).

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.

The SKA Big Data infographic

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 30-Nov-2011 14:34

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.

Who is using Microsoft cloud services?

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 30-Nov-2011 09:28

New Zealand datacentres on Computerworld (and a quote from yours)

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 29-Nov-2011 10:48

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.

We're with Datacom in Auckland... Hit the link to read the whole article.

The Future of Trustworthy Computing with Brendon Lynch, Chief Privacy Officer, Microsoft Corp

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 29-Nov-2011 10:37

Found this from Nathan's blog:

The internet of things, big data and virtually limitless inexpensive storage will transform the online environment. Huge volumes of data from new sources such as sensors, biometric devices and smartgrids will create significant opportunities in business, healthcare, government and countless other fields.

At the same time, the data deluge will also carry significant risks that must be managed if society is to realise its value. Brendon Lynch, the Chief Privacy Officer at Microsoft, will discuss these trends and their implications.

Brendon is responsible for all aspects of Microsoft's privacy programme, including privacy policy creation and implementation across the company, influencing the creation of privacy and data protection technologies for customers and overseeing communication and engagement with external stakeholders. Now based at Microsoft's global headquarters in Redmond, he is originally from the Waikato.

Dean's Distinguished Speaker Series:

Monday 5 December 2011 from 5.30pm
The University of Auckland Business School
Lecture Theatre OGGB3, Level 0
Owen G Glenn Building
12 Grafton Road, Auckland
Event details and registration

Wellington Employers' Chamber of Commerce
Breakfast Tuesday 6 December 2011 from 7.15am
Wellesley Boutique Hotel
2-8 Maginnity Street, Wellington
Event details and registration

Mobile browser users are a sorry group...

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 28-Nov-2011 10:00

I like reading some aggregators site ( for example) or RSS readers on my smartphone. The sites/readers link to some news sites that are getting very clever about mobile devices. But still dumb.

Here is the thing: if I want to read an article and your site automatically redirects to a mobile version, at least have the decency of sending my browser to the article I am trying to read, not your front page.

Here, this XKCD cartoon explains it really well:

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.

Here's is my full disclosure post.

A couple of blog posts you should read:

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