FryUp: Communication is the key; limiting the unlimited; Macintosh silliness

Top Stories: 'Your call cannot be connected due to a swift round of silly buggers'; Baby DSL may get download cap; Did you ever wonder about all those Macs in the movies?

Top Stories:

- "Your call cannot be connected due to a swift round of silly buggers"

- Baby DSL may get download cap

- Did you ever wonder about all those Macs in the movies?

- "Your call cannot be connected due to a swift round of silly buggers"

How can you tell when telecommunications companies are playing games? Apart from their lips moving, they invoke the mantra of "emergency calls are being affected".

And so it's happening again. Telecom and TelstraClear are doing the dance of a thousand whiny email in their attempt to get us to believe "it wasn't me, miss, they done it".

Telecom says TelstraClear is at fault for not provisioning the five lines it organised months ago. TelstraClear says Telecom is at fault for only giving it five lines and not the 1900 it asked for months ago.

Telecom says it thought it was dealing with one company but now TelstraClear is changing the rules by talking about Clear and Telstra contracts as separate entities. TelstraClear says well, yes, that's right - it was two separate companies and now that both contracts have expired it will deal with Telecom as one operation.

Telecom says TelstraClear owes it money. TelstraClear says it has overpaid Telecom precisely so it can avoid this accusation.

Meanwhile, apparently, a woman in Christchurch called 111 and was told no line was available. Nobody calls 111 on a whim. If she called, she needed help and it's entirely appropriate that heads should roll over her inability to get through.

So what's to be done? If Telecom and TelstraClear can't reach a commercial agreement there's a new sheriff in town who will thrust an agreement upon them. However, that's at least half a year away and will only be the beginning of the new commissioner's troubles.

The worst that can happen from here is Telecom and TelstraClear stop talking altogether and we end up with TelstraClear customers unable to make calls at all. The minister, Paul Swain, is pretty much powerless in this instance. His statement on the matter sounded for all the world like his predecessor Maurice Williamson who spent 10 years warning Telecom to allow competition or he'd step in. Sound and fury signifying nothing I'm afraid; Williamson never did anything about Telecom's rampant behaviour.

And neither, really, can Swain. The new regime is in place, and we're simply waiting for the commissioner to sit in the big swivelly chair. Without him, there's really nothing any of us can do, except let our telco provider know what we think of them. Why not give them a call. I understand they're in the business of communication.

This block of stories is about the interconnection agreement directly; after that are a few extras about things like Zfree, Telecom's static IP tax and the National Party's telecommunications policy to round out your reading. There will be a quiz, so pay attention.

TUANZ bangs heads over interconnection - IDGNet

Telco deadlock stinging users - NZ Herald

Phone companies' bitter connection feud escalates - Stuff

Minister to help resolve communications dispute - NZ Herald

Telco interconnection wars resume - Stuff

New low_end offerings to replace Zfree - IDGNet

Plug pulled on free access - NZ Herald

JetStream barely worth it--ISPs - NZ Herald

Nats slam power of telco watchdog - IDGNet

Telecom accounts cleared by Securities Commission - IDGNet

- Baby DSL may get download cap

It's billed as an always on, limited speed, unlimited download service from Telecom. JetStart, which doesn't even rate as broadband with its 128Kbit/s speed, according to the OECD, has always had one redeeming feature: do what you like with it for as long as you're able.

Unfortunately, some of you did just that and apparently that's bad. The ISPs that resell JetStart are freaking out about huge downloads that eat all their bandwidth and mean they're basically paying so they can have you as a customer.

Paradise was first to institute a download cap - 10GB of international traffic a month. After that you pay 20 cents per megabyte for international traffic and 2 cents per meg for national.

Now Quicksilver has followed suit, although it doesn't charge for usage beyond its 7GB cap, it cuts you off. You get a letter first, mind, but in effect that's all she wrote.

But hang on, didn't you sign up so you could do this kind of thing? Isn't this a bit like buying a car only to be told what kind of roads you can drive on?

Well, yes and no. The problem, you see, is that the ISP can only charge you the user a flat rate, but it is charged by Telecom for the traffic you download.

Let's say the ISP pays Telecom 10c per megabyte - they're only getting a share of the $60 odd dollars you pay and if you download 10GB they end up paying Telecom for your pleasure.

No ISP can afford that, not even Xtra, it seems, which is considering making changes to its own JetStart package to limit this kind of "abuse".

I don't think the end users are at fault here. Using a service to its full capability probably isn't illegal (!), and certainly I could make an argument for applauding this kind of full-on use of broadband.

After all, isn't this exactly what we've been suggesting all these years? A virtual world where you can download movie trailers, listen to streaming radio all day long, get your software upgraded, game all night and send terabytes of data back and forth without a second thought?

In the end this comes down to a billing issue that is out of whack with the service that is being provided. It's just a pity that the solution is to limit the service rather than thinking outside the square.

Xtra considers download cap on JetStart - IDGNet

- Did you ever wonder about all those Macs in the movies?

Honestly, they're everywhere from Shortland Street to Independence Day ... this list is endless it seems.

And I always wondered about that, because as anyone in business knows, Macs really aren't all that prevalent outside graphics houses these days. Which is a pity because they look so darned good whereas PCs uniformly suck the big kumara.

I was lucky enough to go to CeBIT, the world's largest IT fair, a couple of years ago and saw some functioning concept PCs from Samsung. There was an orange plastic pyramid and a couple of groovy-looking electric blue boxes that really made an impact. They were running normal PC innards--Intel, Nvidia, that sort of thing--but they looked the part on the outside. No sign of them on any website, though, and the guys on the stand didn't speak much English so I couldn't get across how much I wanted one.

Josh Chalmers over at Nzoom has a great story on the site today about Macs in TV, in particular Kiefer Sutherland's new show 24. The good guys, apparently, use Macs while the bad guys are given Wintel boxes to play with ... it's a subtle clue but an entertaining one, I thought, especially with such a twisty-turny plot. It also explains a lot about the office, I think. As Homer Simpson says (so I'm told) "it's funny because it's true".

Good guys aren't PC - Nzoom

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