Could APN please hire a tech editor for the Herald?

, posted: 10-Apr-2007 07:11

Like it or not - and I contend that there are plenty of people in New Zealand who don't - technology is important nowadays. It keeps the wheels of the economy turning and by itself, brings in plenty of money. Maybe it's not up there with farming yet, but technology is still important.

That's pretty obvious, isn't it? However, judging from the way The Herald treats its tech coverage, it hasn't sunk in with the people in charge of New Zealand's largest daily newspaper. Since Peter Nowak chucked it in and headed back to Canada last year, the Herald has not had a tech editor.

Without a person at the helm who understands tech, the quality of the entire section suffers. It can't be much fun being roped in to write tech for the Herald, as you're basically on your own in terms of editorial support.

There are many cases in point, but let's take today's column by David Hayson on broadband. Hayson makes a good case for the benefits of broadband but then you hit the bullet points on what customers in France get and read:
* Up to 28 megabits a second download speed
* 10 gigabytes of asonal web pages
* Wifi connection

Assuming Hayson is talking about ADSL2+, it's possible that the 28Mbit/s figure is correct as the French have been experimenting with compression to eke out more speed over and above the usual 24Mbit/s the technology is said to be capable of.

However, that's the theoretical maximum download speed and not what customers are likely to experience. Our first generation ADSL is capable of 8Mbit/s but how many of you get that?

An editor with tech knowledge would've picked up on that, and also I hope questioned what the sinister-sounding "10 gigabytes of asonal web pages" are. A Wi-Fi connection? Xtra sells those as part of its DSL offering, and so do other providers.

A capable tech editor would also have questioned statements like:
It appears at present only one company in New Zealand has plans to take advantage of this new environment [LLU]. Orcon plans to leapfrog Telecom with technology that can deliver up to a whopping 100 megabits a second.

I'm sure Orcon's fellow providers in ISPANZ who say that they too would like to start installing DSLAMs in exchanges as soon as possible are of a different opinion. Also, 100Mbit/s? I'll believe that when I see it, but until then, I'd be wary of giving Orcon free advertising space like that.

The second problem is that the Post Office engineers who built our network cleverly tweaked the systems so that fewer exchanges were needed. This means our copper wires are longer than usual, even in towns and cities.

This is an interesting one. Maybe I've missed it, but I haven't seen a mention of this until now. Hayson appears to be saying that the PO engineers built the existing copper net work out of specification. Wouldn't that have led to issues with equipment connecting to such a network well ahead of the DSL rollout? If it is true, it would've been good to see the statement substantiated in some form. A tech editor would've asked for that.

Come on Herald... you can do better than this.

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