Commission eyes Telecom's about-face on XT

Yesterday, NBR revealed the surprising extent of Telecom’s upgrades to its XT network, including the accelerated roll out of dozens of new cell towers, and hundreds of tower-mounted amplifiers. Some of this spending was planned (but dragged forward); millions, apparently was not.

The article also brought to readers - and perhaps regulators - attention that Telecom had quietly withdrawn its claim that XT covers 97% of the places New Zealanders "live and work”.

Joe Caccioppoli, head of mobile at Telecom’s Gen-i division, told an audience at a Telecommunications Users Association event on March 24 that the 97% population coverage claim was made before XT’s launch based on modelling.

But, “you can only model so much” Mr Caccioppoli told the audience.

The 97% coverage claim, which used to appear beside XT coverage maps on Telecom’s website and was often quoted elsewhere, was voluntarily - and quietly - withdrawn last month.

(Although vestiges remain, such as the line that "Our partnership with Telstra in Australia means that we've got coverage in 97% of where Australians live and work too.")

Still, they did say it
Nevertheless, the 97% coverage claim was made from XT’s racey May 2009 launch through until at least February 2010, when the launch bogged down in its fourth major outage.

The Commerce Commission gave a very neutral reaction when presented with this information yesterday. The watchdog is now accessing whether to look into the issue.

“As with all issues like this, this will need to be assessed through the commission's usual process to see whether there may be a breach of the legislation that the commission enforces, and if so, what, if any, action is appropriate for the commission to take,” said a spokeswoman.

The commission will make a statement next Tuesday, after this assessment has taken place.

Vodafone: we're fully-compliant
Meanwhile, Vodafone is sticking to its claim that both its 3G and 2G services “cover 97% of the places Kiwis live, work and play” (see its coverage map here).

“We absolutely reach at least 97% of the population,” head of corporate communications Paul Brislen said last night.

“The Commerce Commission has maps of our coverage and compares them with population data. We’re fully compliant.”

But it may not have always been that way
Nevertheless, Vodafone is no stranger to Commerce Commission scrutiny of its coverage claims.

In October last year, the watchdog launched a prosecution under the Fair Trading Act relating to, among other issues, Vodafone 2G/3G and wireless broadband coverage claims made variously between October 2006 and February 2009.

Telecom is sticking by its 97% population coverage claim for its older CDMA network.

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11 Comments & Questions

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Now they have to install mast head amps why was this not done when the network was built or when they added the filters

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Hey Vodafone you don't always smell of roses.
Why am I sick of having to go down onto the beach at Waihi Beach to make/receive calls?
As Chris O'Connell points - out the sooner the 3 Telcos share backhaul and towers the better the system will be for everyone and get rid of the BS parochialism

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Hi BR, if you have a look at the coverage maps linked to above you'll see there's plenty of 3G Extend coverage in and around Waihi Beach.

3G Extend uses a different frequency (900MHz) to the main 3G network (2100MHz) which covers around 70% of the population. Waihi Beach is in the 900MHz coverage area so you'll need a device that operates on that frequency - marked on our website by the 3G Extend logo.

Roughly half our phones and most of our data sticks on sale today will operate on both frequencies.

Paul Brislen
Vodafone

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Hi Paul

I have a BlackBerry on Vodafone and another Telecom XT handset and in my travels around New Zealand XT kills Vodafone in terms of coverage and calls dropping out - when my Vodafone handset is without signal inveriably I can get a call made using the Telecom handset - and how come I can drive from Manukau City to the north shore and not loose a call on the XT network when if I do the same using my Vodafone handset it drops the call at least 3 times over same trip at the same time ! Can you explain that ?

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Telecom have never got it right because until recently they had no need to.
You had to put up with rubbish service and prices, or leave the country to get it.
The trouble is Telecom still has the same ignorant managers they have all ways had making the real decisions, and their Chorus dapartment is full of even more ignorant, backward people making even more amazing management decisions.

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Paul Brislen of vodafone you are wrong, i have a brand new HTC handset which does not work usually at waihi beach. it is a pain in the Bum. it sometimes works and sometimes it dosn't, funny thing is that the guy who installed the new tower at the RSA for vodafone stayed in the camp at leo st last xmas said that the old tower gave better coverage for more people. but it needs looking at by vodafone

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Hi Grant,

Does your HTC device support 900 & 2100Mhz UMTS or aka WCDMA?? What model is it??

Is it an Andriod based phone?

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I get around this country and have both a work related Vodafone Handset and prviate Telecom XT handset and I can say without fear of anyone contradicting me that Telecom is streets ahead of Vodafone in respect to both coverage and calls dropping out whilst on the move XT is superior in both areas from my experience

Yse Telecom stuffed up a while back somehow, and now have fixed it, its a bit like cars being recalled, smart car companies don't give the other guy stick because they all know their turn will come anything man makes breaks once in a while - get over it !

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In the middle of the Albany Industrial estate, my entire company - who are 90% on XT loose coverage when they walk inside our building. And it happens in more than one location around Alb ind estate - We are at the Orbit drive end of Albany. Vodaphone works ok. And I can see cell towers on the skyline - but dont think they are XT

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@Grant
Manukau City to the North Shore is quite some distance; I'd say there are several places during that drive where your phone can see not one but several cellsites and handover confusion is likely the cause of the issue. Vodafone has plenty of coverage along SH1 especially in Auckland. Next time your drop a call in a regular problem spot, note the spot and call customer services.

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Your issues of call drop outs *may* be related to a faulty handset, have you tried your SIM in another handset on the Vodafone Network? What basic trouble shooting have you done, if any?

Also, what model is your Blackberry?? Unless it's the very latest handset, it will *possible* only support 2100Mhz UMTS for 3G, not the other frequency that Vodafone use for their 3G Network, which is 900Mhz UMTS in the rural areas of New Zealand.

If you had a phone that supported both 2100/900Mhz UMTS you would find that your coverage would also be better, as the signal travels further on the 900Mhz UMTS frequency, which is why Vodafone have deployed this in the rural areas of New Zealand, as far less cell sites are required.

Another important point - there are PLENTY of areas around New Zealand where Telecom XT has NO coverage & Vodafone DOES (also vice versa), neither Network replicates the others coverage footprint exactly & Vodafone have 97% population based, where New Zealander's live, work & play (& this is always improving!).

Interestingly Telecom XT are now saying that they don't have 97% population based coverage (as this article states), so they have been telling porkies up until the last few weeks or so, since their launch of XT.

So - as Carkitter has mentioned - if you have an issue with dropped calls - make a note of the location & time & CONTACT VODAFONE so they can investigate it, there is no point moaning about a problem - if you aren't prepared to actually help Vodafone try & fix it (if there is actually an issue in the first place).

But as mentioned before - you need to try your SIM in another Vodafone handset first - borrow one from a friend or work mate, you should do basic trouble shooting FIRST before blaming everything on Vodafone's Network (which in my experience has been VERY robust & is improving with 3G Speed & better coverage ALL the time).

I have a Nokia 6121c on the Vodafone Network, which supports both 2100/900Mhz UMTS & I have experienced superb coverage ALL around New Zealand, with this phone.

I have travelled extensively both around the entire North & South Islands of New Zealand. I'm VERY impressed with the coverage that Vodafone offer, but you DO have to have the right handset to maximise your experience on the Vodafone Network, as I have already explained.

Cheers,

G

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