I tweeted last night that I felt very sorry for the many Telecom staff, as their XT network suffered another outage. It must be galling to see the company you work for get so damaged by outages that cause so much disruption. It’s probably like working for National in Parliament in 2002, which is why I can empathise!
A friend responded:
sorry David, but this chicken has been waiting to come home to roost for a while…you can’t outsource your maintenance, technology, customer service etc and expect to retain the core that makes a company strong enough not to fall into this sort of morass
And that’s a fair point. I recall one ex Telecom staffer semi-joking to me that I had to understand that Telecom wasn’t an IT company, it was a law firm that had contractors provide telecommunication services
Now Ernie Newman at TUANZ has called for possible Government action:
“Telecom needs to do something drastic to assist the customers it is repeatedly letting down,” said chief executive Ernie Newman in a statement.
“If it doesn’t, then it may be time for the government to step in as a national economic issue. This cannot be allowed to go on”
My first response to the call for Government action is to imagine Steven Joyce in builders shorts and a hard hat on a tall ladder at the top of a mobile phone tower, and he’s whacking something repeatedly with a spanner.
More seriously, I don’t see these outages as critical as if they had occured on the fixed line network, or the DSL network.
Telecom has a near monopoly on the final mile copper loop. If those networks go down, it can affect everyone in NZ, regardless of choice of provider.
But we have two and a half mobile phone networks in NZ, which are not dependent on the same infrastructure, and one can establish a presence on a competitor within a few hours, plus have number portability to keep numbers.
I’m not advocating that XT customers mass migrate – individual customers will make those decisions based on how many more outages there are, and what guarantees and/or compensation they get in future. But the presence of Vodafone and 2 Degrees means that customers do have options, if the frustration gets too much for them. And that knowledge that they may lose current and future customers will be providing the best incentive to Telecom (and its contractors) to get things right.
So I’d rather the Government doesn’t jump in at this stage. I’d have a different view if the outages were in one of the areas where they are a virtual monopoly, but this is not the case with the XT mobile network.Tags: Ernie Newman, mobile, Telecom