Telecom softening up public opinion in preparation for no-regulation deal

, posted: 23-Apr-2006 14:37

Auckland's Sunday Star Times has a story entitled "Telecom's man - broadly speaking, we're good" running this weekend. It's a totally uncritical interview with Telecom New Zealand's manager of government and industry relations, Bruce Parkes.

The SST carefully avoids mentioning any history or OECD statistics relating to Telecom New Zealand tenure of its local loop monopoly and through that, market domination in broadband. Instead, Parkes gets a free rein to spin Telecom's corporate message hard and fast.

"In terms of speed there's been a lot of ill-informed comment. We're in the process of rolling out the second generation of (digital subscriber line) technology. That has yet to be deployed by Telstra. In the UK, BT is only just starting. So in terms of incumbents our deployment of next generation broadband is more than respectable."

Really? I'm sure the Geekzone Broadband forum participants have something to say about that.

What that piece, and previous ones in the mainstream media point to is an early public relations campaign that will culminate around July with the government announcing a deal with Telecom New Zealand. This will be after an extensive and lengthy "industry stock-take", which I predict will follow the pattern of the last decade - no regulation in favour of promises from Telecom to drag New Zealand out of the OECD bottom rankings.

One of the promises the government will buy if they haven't bought it already is the ADSL2+ rollout. Note that the SST story says June this year and that the ADSL2+ deployment has been in full swing over the last year. Sure it has, because it's actually hard to purchase DSL gear now that doesn't support the newer standard - because that is what's currently being rolled out around the world. Telecom's select examples don't tell the truth about the global ADSL2+ rollout. Close to NZ, iinet has already deployed the faster next-generation DSL for instance.

Telecom's backhaul network isn't even ready for ADSL2+ yet. Their present generation Alcatel ISAMs only have a single ATM STM1 interface and have to be forklift upgraded to newer models with gigabit Ethernet backhaul. This will only happen in 2007, so June isn't when New Zealanders will get ADSL2+ en masse.

Furthermore, Telecom told me that the initial rollout will only be in high-value demographics areas. That means the service will be aimed at early adopters and thus, be costly.

Finally, competing ISPs are wondering if they'll get wholesale access to ADSL2+. This is not at all certain, because ADSL2+ is seen as part of Telecom's Next Generation Network or NGN. As part of the 2003 deal with the government, the NGN was declared out of bounds for regulation.

More information

Other related posts:
The problem with VDSL2, part 2
The problem with VDSL2
The mysterious Dynamic Line Management on VDSL2

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