Telecom sounds one-day warning for CDMA network closure

Telecom acting CEO Chris Quin

UPDATE July 30: Telecom's CDMA mobile network, launched in 2001, has entered its final few hours of life.

How many are still clinging to the old network? 

A Telecom spokeswoman would only offer: "We are unable to report numbers outside our financial reporting cycle."

At its last update, in February, the company said 639,000 customers remained on the old network.

That Telecom is on a final PR push - it sounded a "one day warning" this afternoon, indicates there are at least a few hold-outs. But at this point it's unclear if it's a matter of hundreds, thousands, tens of thousands or more.

The CDMA closure was first announced in May 2009 when Telecom launched its new XT network, which runs on the same W-CDMA technology used by Vodafone and 2degrees.


Carrots, sticks as clock counts down on CDMA

July 11: With just three weeks to go until its CDMA network shuts down on July 31, Telecom is refusing to say how many of its two million or so mobile customers remain on the old service.

The company has confirmed that there will be no extension on the July 31 deadline. CDMA will completely shutdown at the end of the month, including the end of 111 emergency calls via CDMA.

Telecom says those unsure if they are on CDMA or the newer XT should call *333.

There were some carrots mentioned by Telecom today, including $0 up front XT phone offers for contract customers, and a $79 top up fro pre-pay.

But also a few sticks.

Telecom warned that not even voice mail messages will be available after this month. Customers who urgently need to access a message will have to order it on CD, at their own cost.

The company also cautioned that those who don't change before July 31 might not be able to keep their number.

Telecom gave its last detailed mobile update on February 24 (read Telecom sheds 92,000 mobile customers: the new standings).

At that time it said 639,000 customers remained on CDMA,  accounting for 11% of its mobile  revenue. Chief executive Paul Reynolds said on a conference call to analysts that "only" 300,000 had actively used CDMA in the past month.

Since February, the carrier has rebuffed all queries about CDMA customer numbers.

Telecom acting CEO Chris Quin said there had been an "influx" of CDMA customers to Telecom stores over the past few weeks.

The company had run radio, TV, newspaper and online ads, and run pre-recorded messages in front of calls on CDMA.

This afternoon, a spokesoman, declining to give specific figures, told NBR ONLINE: "We’re comfortable with migration volume to XT."

But the very fact Telecom has mounted a new PR offensive today suggests a decent whack of customers remain on the old network.

Privately held 2degrees has updated on customer numbers. On June 28, 2degrees CEO Eric Hertz said his company had 950,000 customers – around 100,000 of them contract plans.

In March last year, 2degrees said it had 580,000 customers. (Vodafone has fallen back fractionally, losing 9000 customers in its most recently reported quarter but more-or-less holding steady around 2.4 million).

The newcomer's surge suggests a good chunk of Telecom's CDMA hold-outs did not upgrade to XT, instead defecting to 2degrees.

Skinny sideshow
The countdown to the CDMA closure has been complicated by alleged slow-sales (Telecom won't comment) and an abrupt management change at new budget mobile brand Skinny (which shares the same W-CDMA network as XT). 

Skinny has recently pushed deals for CDMA hold-outs (as have 2degrees and Vodafone), but Telecom Retail chief executive Alan Gourdie told NBR the sub-brand's primary focus remains on the youth market.

Another sideshow has been a High Court spat over who owns provisioning software used to upgrade customers from CDMA to XT. Telecom has sought to stop the sale of Aldous, the Auckland company that worked on the software, then collapsed owing around $10.5 million.

When Telecom launched XT in May 2009, then CEO Paul Reynolds said he hoped half of the company's  2.1 million or so customers would upgrade to the new network inside a year.

However, a series of disastrous network outages in late 2009 and early 2010 stalled XT's progress.

With most CDMA hold-outs being low-yielding "glove box" customers, the old network's closure is a bit of a sideshow.

But it has turned out to possibly be a longer and more fraught sideshow than Telecom thought, and Vodafone and 2degrees won't mind seeing their rival distracted talking about its old network when it would rather be talking up its 4G plans.

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11 Comments & Questions

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Reminds me of a few years back when Telecom did the same thing forcing customers to change from 025 to CDMA, they lost alot of customers then, including me after continual problems with Telecom. My change from 025 to 021 went very smoothly and I have been very happy with 021 since. Telecom phoned for months trying to get me back, LOL.

Good luck Telecom!!! Yeah right!!!

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have to say this skinny crowd have no PR skills, just like their delinquent parent company telecom.
both deserve to loose massively over dishonest behaviour,...their many poorly trained sales people who have lied to me each time ive called them.

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The customer service, at Skinny, is not that good. It was 4 days before someone called me re text i sent, which was at their prompting.

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oh puh-lease! WShall we play lets spot the voda troll??? XT works great - dialling 777 gets me a help desk in transelvania where english is clearly optional as is actually answering the phone or doing anything remotely useful like solving the problem in hand.

You gets whats you pays for. nuff said about 2 degrees

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XT works great? Oh puh-lease. Shall we play spot the telecom troll???

I think you'll find Telecom is the company with the help desk in Manilla and Vodafone is the one that has a help desk in New Zealand.

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I'm calling Telecom's bluff: I don't believe the CDMA network will be shut down, tomorrow. So, it's onwards and upwards with my trusty Nokia 6175i.

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Telecom has repeatedly told NBR there will be no extension to the midnight deadline.

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The dogs!!

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He is right XT goes really well. So does vodafone. difference is that one company is hauling vast sums of money out of New Zealand whilst the other is incompetent. Guess which is which?

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Telecom is NOT NZ owned you fool - & the Only incompetent company is Telecom!

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#4 you are so wrong and nothing but lacking of fact. Vodafone NZ call centre staff / support staff are 100% NZ based in Auckland

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