Stories by Tom Pullar-Strecker

Chorus on telco levy list

Chorus appears to be losing its battle to avoid making a multimillion dollar contribution to the Telecommunications Development Levy for the 2011-12 financial year.

Govt abandons PPP police radio plan

The government has abandoned the idea of using a public private partnership (PPP) to fund a "whole of government" radio network that would allow police communications to be secured from eavesdroppers nationwide.

Team Talk to buy BayCity Communications

TeamTalk has announced it plans to acquire Timaru-based rural telecommunications provider BayCity Communications for up to $42 million.
It would pay $31m up front in cash and shares and up to a further $11m depending on BayCity's subsequent performance over two years.
The deal is subject to approval by TeamTalk shareholders who will be asked to vote on the acquisition next month.
The acquisition is a large one for TeamTalk, which is valued on the NZX at $61.3m. Its shares were trading down 1 cent at $2.61 shortly after the announcement.
BayCity posted revenues of $25.4m in the year to June when it had earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation of $5.8m.
TeamTalk chief executive David Ware says if the sale goes ahead BayCity will continue to operate from Timaru. "

Big payday for 2degrees founder

2degrees co-founder Tex Edwards is set to receive over $1 million from 2degrees after the Employment Relations Authority ruled it had wrongly reduced his salary from $350,000 to $200,000 in 2008.

Vodafone NZ's revenue shrinks, but profit rises

Vodafone New Zealand’s revenues have shrunk by $73 million to $1.62 billion as lower mobile termination fees mandated by the Commerce Commission took a $116 million bite out of the business.

TelstraClear sale decision delayed

The Commerce Commission has pushed back a decision on whether it will let Vodafone take over TelstraClear by more than a month to October 23.

Datacom reports strong revenue growth

Information technology services firm Datacom has reported another year of strong growth, with revenues up 9 per cent to $788 million and staff numbers up 13 per cent to more than 4000.

Reynolds' $13m payout

Paul Reynolds appears to have been paid about $13 million in cash and shares during his final year with Telecom.

TelstraClear customers up ahead of sale to Vodafone

TelstraClear and Vodafone could between them boast more than 30 per cent of the home broadband market after what TelstraClear boss Allan Freeth described as a "fantastic year" for the company.

Woosh reports small profit after large losses

Wireless broadband company Woosh Wireless has pulled out of a financial nose-dive, posting a small profit of $1.3 million after previously burning through $180 million of shareholders' cash.
The reversal in fortune was helped by the fact the company had already written off almost all the value of its network, which it uses to provide a wireless broadband and phone service in the three main centres and in Southland.
Rather than incurring a big depreciation charge, Woosh instead upped the estimated market value of its network of transmission towers by $1.1m. It said the network would be more valuable than previously calculated to any company that wanted to use the towers to build a 4G mobile network.
Revenues rose 7 per cent to $18m, but the company remains in negative equity to the tune of $11.1m and indebted to its shareholders.
Woosh is competing in a consortium with state-owned enterprise Kordia and Wellington firm FX Network for a $285m government contract to upgrade rural broadband.

Tuanz calls for greater cuts to MTRs

The Telecommunications Users Association has called on the Commerce Commission to almost completely do away with mobile termination charges next year and to regulate again if carriers do not pass the savings on to customers.
The uncompromising stance surprised Vodafone, which stands to lose hundreds of millions of dollars from regulation and would rather see the charges lowered over several years.
Last month, Tuanz announced that then-Vodafone spokesman Paul Brislen would become its next chief executive.
The Government ordered the regulation of mobile termination charges in August after seven years of deliberations and the commission is now consulting on the details.
The fees are charged by telcos, to telcos, to route calls and texts to mobile phones and are blamed for artificially inflating prices.
The Commerce Commission has previously suggested fees for terminating calls could be cut from about 17 cents to 4c a minute, charged by the second. But Tuanz has backed a "hybrid bill-and-keep" system for both voice calls and texts that would mean no fees would be payable as long as there was roughly even traffic flow between networks.
The approach is designed to cut fees to a minimum while mitigating against the risk of "text spam" and the danger that telcos might seek to put one another out of business by flooding rival networks with incoming calls.
Vodafone public policy manager Hayden Glass said no form of bill-and-keep would work for fixed-to-mobile phone calls as, in his view, that was not a "reciprocal service".
The commission is due to publish a draft report by Christmas before finalising the shape of regulation in March. Vodafone has not ruled out a judicial review.
Tuanz chairman Pat O'Connell called on phone companies to pass on at least 90 per cent of whatever fee reductions eventuated to customers: "If rates drop by 10 cents a minute, we would expect to see the price for calls drop by at least 9c a minute.
"If that level of pass-through is not seen ... Tuanz would support calls for the Commerce Commission to look into regulation of pass-through itself," he said.
He saw no reason for a "glide path" to lower fees, given the "writing has been on the wall" for many years. Mr Glass said a glide path would be "standard regulatory practice".

Kiwibank seeks biometric ID system as iGovt decision looms

Kiwibank has started shopping for a biometric system that could let it photograph and fingerprint people, suggesting it could become the organisation that will enrol people in the Government's $122 million iGovt identity verification scheme.
Kiwibank's head of agency services Mandy Smith said the system would not necessarily be used by people who banked with Kiwibank and its focus was on verifying the identity of people on behalf of other public and private sector clients. "We are increasingly being asked by our clients, mostly in the public sector, about biometric capability."
Internal Affairs has been seeking a "trusted organisation" with an extensive branch network to register iGovt users and encourage uptake of the system since February. IGovt manager Andrea Gray said it intended to pick a partner by Christmas.
IGovt is designed to make it possible for people to prove their identity to government agencies and private sector organisations, such as banks, using a single user name and password.
To use the service, people would first need to register in person at a branch.
They would either register their mobile phone number, so they could be texted with a one-off code to key in when accessing a secure service online, or be issued with a hardware token similar to those issued by banks to authenticate internet banking transactions. Ms Smith said photo capture was the focus of its invitation to suppliers, but it would also be asking them about other biometric technologies such as fingerprinting and voice recognition. Some overseas banks were looking at identifying telebanking customers by analysing their speech and overseas high commissions were increasingly interested in how biometric technology could improve visa and border control, she said.
"Postal organisations around the world are all looking at similar opportunities."

Police ponder portable computers

The police are considering buying handheld or portable computers that could be used to track cars and officers and later to electronically fingerprint and photograph suspects stopped on the street.