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Telecom XT

Written By: - Date published: 2:39 pm, February 26th, 2010 - 41 comments
Categories: privatisation, telecommunications - Tags:

Is this the real reason Telecom called their new network XT?

Seriously though, this text book case of how not to run a business has got well beyond a joke. When the 111 call system fails lives are at risk. Add Telecom to the list of dodgy privatisation decisions (NZ Railways, electricity) that aren’t looking so flash in retrospect…

41 comments on “Telecom XT ”

  1. Lewis Holden 1

    You can’t compare the old faithful IBM PC/XT to Telecom XT… at least with the IBM XT you’d be able to tell what went wrong.

    • r0b 1.1

      Back even before the “blue screen of death”…

    • lprent 1.2

      Not how I remember it. It’d just crash, especially when I was writing the code it was running 😈 The XT taught me to check my code in a way the DEC 1170 had failed to do. The reboot time was too long.

      My first PC was a IBM sewing machine, the second was an old IBM XT, and the third (which I won by accident) was a IBM JX (I think that it what it was called) with dual floppies. I passed the latter to my partner at the time for typing up her law notes.

      But back on topic. Just at present I’m really really glad I use vodaphone for my iPhone.

      • lukas 1.2.1

        “Just at present I’m really really glad I use vodaphone for my iPhone.” You would be stuffed on any other network for certain features with the latest software update anyway.

        • lprent

          Yep.. I use tethering a *lot* (in fact right now, it is how I’m linked to the net) and I’m pretty sure that isn’t available on the other networks with an iPhone.

          • lukas

            correct. The update locks those functions out for XT and 2Degrees. Not sure why you would have an iPhone on 2Degrees, but there are alot of people that do.

    • toad 1.3

      Problem with this post r0b, is that no-one under 35 will get the joke.

      • r0b 1.3.1

        Well them there kids can go play with their face-tube-book whatever thingies. And get offa my lawn.

        • BLiP

          I get confused too – I used to be on MySpace but my nephew told me “no, no no, you gotta go to FaceBook” – so off I went. Then I got in a bit of bother because I ended up inviting everyone to “come on my Face’ . . . still, how about this . . . 80,000 friends!!!

          But, hey, since we’re talking about Telecom – I’m off to India for my next holiday. I was wondering what’s what, and how things work . . . so I rang Directory Service.

          Hat Tip.

      • infused 1.3.2

        Yeah, sorry they do. I also find it rather pathetic. XT jokes were so last week.

  2. Outofbed 2

    Lets hope telecom doesn’t get involved in the broadband network rollout.

    • Lew 2.1

      You mean the only company with anything even remotely close to the operational capacity and expertise to do the bulk of the work should be left out? Who’ll do it, then?

      And yes, I say that with full awareness of what it tells us about the state of our telecommunications infrastructure. It’s a goddamned travesty. That’s the problem with privatising a government monopoly and granting it such an extravagantly privileged position. No reason for them to actually do a decent job.


      • Outofbed 2.1.1

        It will mostly used for faster porn anyway I suspect

        • prism

          Then when we are really broke and scraping the barrel for successful business we will have the porn market up our sleeve! And that would be a lucrative boost to the film and television production market.

          Also on line gambling – the smart politicians introduced poker machines to this country which are now a major source of revenue (and heartache to addicts). When broadband is rolled out everybody will have the opportunity to participate in all the sites like porn etc. – that is the likely direction NZ is heading. I don’t see huge numbers using broadband speed and reach to be better informed citizens. Will they use it to further their knowledge as I try to do – Wikipedia, looking up google etc. And I don’t think great numbers will be blogging and discussing gritty political problems!

      • Draco T Bastard 2.1.2

        You mean the only company with anything even remotely close to the operational capacity and expertise to do the bulk of the work should be left out?

        Telecom doesn’t have the capacity and neither do the contractors that they use to maintain their network. It hasn’t had the capacity for nearly 20 years now.

        That’s the problem with privatising a government monopoly and granting it such an extravagantly privileged position. No reason for them to actually do a decent job.

        Bingo. The reason why our telecommunications is such a joke is because of the delusional theory of privatisation and competition. Society works much better as a cooperative.

      • prism 2.1.3

        Your comment Lew – That’s the problem with privatising a government monopoly and granting it such an extravagantly privileged position – truly states the situation. Illogical behaviour by avowed free marketeers.

        Shows the naivety and duplicity and ideological economic cult following coupled with lack of practical understanding of the likely results by right wing politicians and their chosen advisers.

  3. the sprout 3

    Does anyone know what the XT is meant to stand for?

    • Outofbed 3.1

      “Does anyone know what the XT is meant to stand for”
      As XT are a Christian metal Band ..Jesus I spose
      Like “Jesus Christ my f@cking phone isn’t working again

  4. prism 4

    Listening to raido interview this am the speaker said that 111 calls have not gone down like this before. But they have gone down since Telecom has had them and people have suffered even if it wasn’t the same technological glitch.
    And this system was the great idea of the clever reorganisers in government, replacing local call systems. Damn another grand idea down the gurgler.

  5. tc 5

    Blue screen of death was easy to diagnose…..you’re screwed / restart loser…..or buy a mac.

  6. tc 6


    telecom don’t have that expertise and capacity you allude to, their service providers do (visionstream, Downer, transfield) and that’s where their experienced engineers now work as contractors being expected to train up cheaper kids.

    If telecom get to play in the broadband rollout it’s a fail for Joyce…..they don’t actually fix/manage anything so what value would they add and we’ve pissed 10yrs up the wall in this space already.

    • Lew 6.1

      TC, none of those contracting companies have the logistical chops to organise a project on the sort of scale being talked about, and that degree of competence is not the sort of thing you can build in a year. While Telecom’s not covering itself in operational glory, it’s the only crowd who could conceivably coordinate and staff a rollout like this. That’s one of the reasons the government’s broadband plan was such a crock — because of Telecom’s market position, it’s essentially just a billion-dollar contra for enforcing the unbundling which should have been enforced from day fucking one.

      Similar situation in Australia with their NBN. Telstra, much like Telecom, is an arrogant and abusive former-monopoly which takes its position for granted. But they overplayed their hand and now are shut out of the NBN scheme. Telecom won’t make that mistake.


  7. tc 7


    Downer/Transfield and Visionstream (leightons) all have suffiient expertise and global capacity to undertake the job…..along with other players.

    It’s what they do all over the world…especially transfield. NZ’s not a big job in global terms….as for telecom not making the same mistake as telstra…..gotta have faith eh.

    • Good point TC

      Telecom a few months ago screwed over its technicians, forced them to become contractors and outsourced the work. Saving money was the goal.

      Are we now seeing the repercussions?

      • toad 7.1.1

        Industrial sabotage. Now that would be cool. Telecom deserve it.

        Are they nominated for the Roger Award this year (they usually are)?

    • Clarke 7.2

      Remember that there’s more to it than just the network, however. You still have to bill customers, provision connections, run Help Desks and all the rest of that stuff. Even if you can make the network infrastructure problem go away, to not use Telecom would mean building an entire back-office and support infrastructure for millions of customers from scratch. Can be done, but not cheap or fast.

    • Lew 7.3

      It’s what they do all over the world, but that’s not to say they can do it here. Especially given the impoverished state of the industry.

      Hadn’t considered the possibility of sabotage and all, though. That’s an interesting spin. But it sounds a bit tinfoil hat to me.


  8. tc 8

    Well the XT issue is a reflection of get what you pay for (seimens nokia/ericsson gear’s the best….Alcatel lucent is not even close) but line faults/broadband definitely suffering from the skills not being around anymore….in Oz/retired/got out of the industry rather than be screwed over.

    Telecom is effectively a marketing company with contracted entities running/fixing/extending the network……they haven’t been able to explain major faults for years…..because they don’t fix them their contractors do.

  9. tc 9

    “….bill customers, provision connections, run Help Desks…” errr most of that is outsourced already. Unsure why all of that would be required as the global players I allude to have all of that already. Provisioning as an example is done by the likes of transfield etc

  10. vto 10

    I would suggest the government needs to step in and take COMPLETE CONTROL of the 111 system.

    Enough of the Telecom buffoons.

    theory … Telecom have shat on so many people over the last few years that it would not surprise me if current problems are one part sabotage.

    • r0b 10.1

      I would suggest the government needs to step in and take COMPLETE CONTROL of the 111 system

      Nice one vto, your “Socialism and You” orientation pack is in the mail!

      it would not surprise me if current problems are one part sabotage

      Gotta admit the thought crossed my mind too.

  11. vto 11

    ” your “Socialism and You’ orientation pack is in the mail!”

    Ha ha r0b, you fullas and fullesses are funny. But that’s the thing.. NZers are a complete mix-up of socialist and capitalist types aren’t they. Hence the constant swingy thingy.

    Nevertheless surely the 111 system is a component of a governements role, namely protection of the people, so why the f… does that system sit with a NZX company ?? ay ??? ? maketh no senseth..

    Key would score brownie points with the left vote and no losses with the right vote if he took it back. Could he strike while the iron’s hot?

  12. graham 12

    If someone was going to sabotage it, I wouldn’t think they’d do it at 3:00 in the morning, especially when building access records show you exactly who is where and when, even down to the exact room they’re in. Make far more sense to do it in the middle of the day, when (a) you’re hopefully already at work, and (b) more impact.

    Serious question: Telecom has run the 111 service for over 50 years. What has it’s record been like before this one outage? Anybody know?

    • Draco T Bastard 12.1

      Not great (it generally worked before hand but wasn’t a national standard, ie, some places dialled 333 instead) but it got worse after privatisation. It was centralised, the number of people to answer the calls were cut and often didn’t even know where the caller was (no local knowledge) and faults often prevented calls from getting through. They changed that again when it became obvious that the centralisation was a complete balls up and went to regional centres but there’s been issues, some fairly serious, constantly over the last 15 years or so.

  13. RedLogix 13

    I get very suspicious when I read a lot of comments from a crowd of self-proclaimed experts making loud pronouncements on the merits or otherwise of complex technical systems.

    Fact is, none of us know the exact root cause of these problems.

    The techies at the coal-face are likely to be taking a lot of heat right now to get to a resolution. Anyone who has worked anywhere near these sorts of systems will understand how very challenging these kinds of intermittent faults are. The guys/guyettes who do this work treat these systems like their own family, and right now nothing will be more important to them personally than to get their baby up and healthy again.

    There are of course legitimate questions to be asked about Telecom’s management and treatment of these people and the underlying technical risks… and that is a real question I would like to see some public accountability around… but for goodness sake, turn down the under-informed histrionics.

    • Draco T Bastard 13.1

      Fact is, none of us know the exact root cause of these problems.

      I’d put odds on it being lack of resources with a high weighting toward lack of personnel.

  14. infused 14

    Hmm? ironic much?

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  15. Red Rosa 15

    A brief look at Paul Reynolds’ salary package, last heard around the $7m mark.

    Let’s ask the Telecom Chairman how he justifies this.

    And let’s ask the PM how he justifies giving the guy a tax cut of.. what? $1m?

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