Buyouts, network overloads among holiday happenings

A round-up of local ICT news over the Christmas-New Year break

SmartPay buys-in to wi-fi

NZX-listed payments company SmartPay announced just before Christmas that it would acquire wi-fi provider FIVO, a subsidiary of the National Communications Corporation.

FIVO operates wireless hotspots at hotels, motels and retail chains, including the Robert Harris chain.

SmartPay says the company is a good fit with its merchant services offerings and will allow it to “fulfil rapidly increasing retailer and customer demand for access to wi-fi hot spots”.

Spectrum auction results

The Ministry of Economic Development has announced the results of its 2.3GHz and 2.5GHz spectrum sale — both are suitable for WiMax services. The six “provisionally” successful bidders paid $4,374,333 for the spectrum, while two lots were set aside for Maori use and as a managed spectrum park.

The biggest buyer was Canadian provider Craig Wireless, which bought two lots for just over $1 million.

The other buyers included Telecom, Vodafone, Kordia, Woosh and Blue Reach, a subsidiary of CallPlus. The rights will transfer in December 2010 or earlier, by arrangement with existing rights-holders.

ComCom closes Telecom investigation

The Commerce Commission has closed its investigation into allegations that Telecom had squeezed its competitors’ margins through bundling and price discounting, affecting their ability to compete.

The investigation dated back to a 2004 deal which saw Telecom introduce a $10 discount for customers who bought all of a bundle of services comprising home-line, toll calls and broadband internet services.

The Commission concluded the “bundle” did not breach the Commerce Act because “efficient competitors could earn positive margins over the combined calling and broadband offering when they sold similar bundles.”

Robinson joins carbon-trading body

Former Microsoft New Zealand managing director Helen Robinson has joined TZ1, New Zealand’s carbon-trading market.

The market was launched late last year, by the New Zealand stock exchange (NZX).

According to an NZX media release, Robinson’s role will be in the voluntary carbon-trading market, where she will be “building relationships and developing the brand strategy of TZ1.”

She will report to TZ1 chief executive Mark Franklin.

“I strongly believe that the TZ1 market can forge a position as a global leader in this evolving space,” Franklin said in the release.

“TZ1 is positioned to be the only straight-through, transparent and regulated market for carbon credits in the Asia-Pacific region, and one of only a handful around the world.”

Robinson left Microsoft in September, after heading the company in New Zealand for two years.

Vodafone stumbles

Vodafone Australia and New Zealand are reviewing their network capacity after roaming customers lost service and had their international text messages seriously delayed over Christmas because of network congestion.

Vodafone Australia conceded it had insufficiently forecast the volume of text messages that would be sent over the holiday period, leaving the network beset by delays.

“We recognise it was an ongoing issue for [between] seven and eight days,” a Vodafone spokesman said.

Vodafone New Zealand said the matter was “out of our hands”, drawing a sharp response from TUANZ chief Ernie Newman.

“For Vodafone to describe the collapse of its trans-Tasman international roaming service as ‘totally out of our hands’ is unconvincing, unprofessional and unacceptable,” he said.

Security sell-out

Israeli internet company Allot has bought New Zealand network security developer Esphion. Allot paid US$3.5 million up-front, plus an additional US$2 million if milestones are met (totalling NZ$7.2 million) in the early January buy.

Esphion was given NZ$400,000 by Technology New Zealand in 2004 to develop software to detect and stop computer worms, NZPA reported.

Shortly after the Esphion announcement, Auckland-based security consultancy was bought by Singaporean company Datacraft for NZ$5 million.

Argent sale

Argent Networks is selling its assets to US communications-software company Redknee Solutions for $5 million, with another $5 million to be paid if targets are met, reports the Dominion Post.

The fire-sale is subject to shareholder approval and is unlikely to produce any payment to ordinary shareholders in the company.

Argent has been involved in court action with shareholders over changes to its constitution.

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Tags MicrosoftVodafoneSmartPayKordiaComComcallplusEsphionWooshallotsecurity-assessment.comargentfivotz1

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