Vodafone customers complain about World Cup outages

No signal: Vodafone user Adam Jobbins' experience 6pm Friday, at the Viaduct.

It wasn’t just public transport that fell over on Friday.

A number of Vodafone customers have complained to NBR that at times they lost service around Party Central on the Viaduct, or at Eden Park – scene of the opening ceremony and the All Blacks vs Tonga.

Did you have any mobile dramas on Friday? Email Chris Keall

Problems seemed to extend to wherever World Cup-related congestion occurred.

Vodafone customer Julie Rutledge, who was one of hundreds queuing on Friday afternoon for (ultimately cancelled) ferries from Devonport, told NBR she could not get any cellphone service.

“[I] could not make calls, email, Facebook or tweet.  I felt quite desperate,” Ms Rutledge said.

Simone McCallum was at the stadium on Friday night.

“I had no problems at Eden Park using Telecom XT,” Ms McCallum said. “I could upload pics and even video to Twitter. But everyone on Vodafone was stuffed.”

"I could not get calls to go through on Friday night from around 4 pm while at the waterfront," emailed architect Mark Gascoigne. "And the majority of my texts failed to send till I gave up trying around kick-off. I did get service later in the night."

Another Vodafone customer, Adam Jobbins, had problems around Quay Street and the Viaduct.

“I could not get data to load,” Mr Jobbins said. “I was able to make and receive one call about 5.30pm. Some of my text messages eventually sent, however some failed and some look a long time to arrive.”

Mr Jobbins said with cellular service lacking, he appreciated the free wi-fi available in the central city during the cup (Tomizone - sponsored by Localist - and CallPlus/Slingshot are both offering free wireless internet). But at Eden Park a Rugby New Zealand 2011 ruling saw the free wi-fi banned.

Problems at North Harbour ...
There were also problems across the bridge. "I'm with Vodafone. I should state for the record that I'm deliriously happy with Vodafone generally, I'm a heavy data user and 3GB a month is incredibly useful for me," Barry Hannah told NBR.

"But several times during Sunday's Rugby World Cup match at North Harbour Stadium between Australia and Italy I tried to tweet and had no luck whatsoever. Browsing websites was the same. There was seemingly no internet connection and time out-errors. My iPhone 4 showed 5 bars of 3G service. I was able to send and receive txt messages."

... and the Cake Tin
Craig Lucinsky - one half of RuggerBlogger - emailed NBR that  "I experienced outages at the game in Wellington last night. It took forever to get 3G coverage in the stadium, and the new council wireless free network does not extend into the Cake Tin.

"The network eventually popped up about 20-25 minutess in, but I found it quite frustrating as I and many other people, have blogs that we post Twitter feeds to. It killed our ability to tweet each other and our followers."

NBR has so far fielded around a dozen complaints from Vodafone customers. All have supplied their number or other idenfying details.

Many others, including MPs Tau Henare ("No wonder I couldn't tweet) and Trevor Mallard (at Eden Park, on Vodafone) vented to @theNBR or @ChrisKeall on Twitter.

Vodafone fronts up
NBR staff on Vodafone also had problems around the Viaduct/Party Central area at Eden Park. In both locations, service at times failed altogether. Txt messages were delayed. (Although experience differed. Your correspondent never lost service on his iPhone, running on Vodafone.)

Around 3.45pm on Friday, an NBR staffer contacted Vodafone about service problems around the waterfront.

Although Vodafone’s website listed no known issues, she was told by a Vodafone call centre rep that there were widespread network problems in the Auckland CBD. 

“I can confirm there are network issues,” the Vodafone call centre rep said said. “All our team leaders are trying to contact their family members down there [at the Viaduct] and it’s all going straight to voice mail.”

Vodafone spokesman Matt East told NBR Friday afternoon that some delays were possible as fans piled into the inner city before office workers had left.

This morning, Mr East elaborated that, “There was some congestion Friday in the Viaduct due to unprecedented crowd [and] some peak congestion at Eden Park.

“The team are making some additional network tweaks to improve that.

“The rest of weekend went very well with the venues all performing well.”

No XT compalints so far
So, NBR has fielded no complaints from readers on XT. Your correspondent was able to upload photos using an XT Turbo Stick from the Viaduct around 6pm.

Asked how XT had held up, Telecom spokesman Mark Watts replied:

“Extremely well. It’s possible there were occasions when the odd text or pxt was delayed, but that’s in the nature of mobile networks in the face of such a huge spike in demand within a small geographical area,” Mr Watts said.

“I know from my own experience, wedged into a very large crowd near the ferry building on Friday afternoon, that the network worked well. Ditto for friends, family and colleagues using XT devices at Eden Park and other busy places.”

The apparent disparity in Telecom and Vodafone customers’ experience around the stadium is curious, given the two telcos collaborated on extra network infrastructure around Eden Park in anticipation of the crowds (and a motherlode of global roaming revenue from overseas visitors).

A Vodafone spokeswoman told NBR the pair have collaborated on laying 13km of cable around Eden Park, plus adding 133 new antennas.

Additionally, 14 COWS (cellsites on wheels) were available for despatch to the busiest locations. 

2 degrees feedback mainly positive
Spokesman Michael Bouliane told NBR, “We didn’t experience any capacity or coverage issues on the 2degrees network at all this weekend.”

Mr Bouliane said he was at at both the Viaduct and Eden Park over Friday afternoon and evening, and “was quickly uploading photos to Facebook throughout the opening ceremonies and game on my 2degrees smartphone.”

2degrees does enjoy the relative benefit of having the smallest customer base. (Vodafone has the most users connected to its network).

The help is on 2degrees
NBR did receive one indirect complaint, however.

A PR consultant relayed that “My nanny is on 2degrees and she had trouble accessing the network, and txting her mates. She was in the heart of Viaduct.”


Postscript: not everybody was capable of making a call

Friday's World Cup opener was the most-watched event in New Zealand television history, with almost 2 million tuning in live.

Hundreds of thousands more were on the streets ... and at times a little worse for wear, making for some of the most inadvertently hilarious live coverage in New Zealand television history, as this Dan News compilation shows.

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74 Comments & Questions

Commenter icon key: Subscriber Verified

I was at the ground on Saturday with my Vodafone connected iphone I might as well of taken a brick in my pocket! I wanted to use data and send MMS was that possible ? NO!

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This is probably just because Vodafone uses a more standard frequency than Telecom so all the tourists would've been roaming onto Vodafone's network. They would've had much more load than Telecom.

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XT also uses 2100Mhz spectrum in all metro centres in NZ - this is supported by EU handsets whilst the 850Mhz XT uses is supported by US handsets so XT should in theory have a sizeable chunk of inbound roamers

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How stupid clearly this was congestion and nothing else, More poor reporting by the NBR and this is why you will not get 1 cent off me!!

[To paraphrase the recent words of our Prime Minister: You're in a hole. Stop digging. - CK]

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You don't think they should have factored in extra capacity? You know, like XT did?

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XT has just on 1 million subs Vodafone has 2.5 more bad reporting

[The article notes Vodafone has the most subscribers. Regardless, people expect their phone company to have capacity commensurate with its customer base. - CK]

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Lots of extra capacity was added including fibre the issue is the subscriber base on XT is much smaller then on Vodafone

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The title is even misleading it should say congestion not outages!! NBR has to have the worse reporting. Who would pay for this rubbish!

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Compare apples to apples XT has more 3G only customers than Vodafone as they have no GsM backbone to flick back to!

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GSM / WCDMA are on the same core network, The only difference is the A interface!

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Further to this if the iPhone was not such a capacity hog on signalling it would not lose signal, I wonder if most complaints are from iPhone users?

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Customer Base is no excuse. Of course there was going to be a large crowd at the water front and at the Park. Vodafone should have increased their capacity to meet the demand, after all they take the customers' money.

I have outages with vodafone over the last few months when well within coverage areas. Callers to me have received the message that I was outside the coverage area or switched off. Customer services told me I might have had call diversion on. Complete C***!

I have taken my business to 2 Degrees.

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errrrr, I think you'll find 2 degree's runs on Vfone networks where they don't have their own towers......

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errrrr, I think you'll find 2 degree's runs on Vfone networks where they don't have their own towers......

[2degrees has its own towers in Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch and Queenstown, with Hamilton and Tauranga soft-launched. - CK]

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when in Palmerston, New Plymouth,Whangerai and Dunedin, and Invecargill - you would be on the Vodafone network?

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Unfortunately, yes. For now...

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Some demand can't be meet the pipe of capacity is only so Fat, only so much spectrum is available

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I work in Parnell. At the top of the hill. If I stand on tiptoes I can probably see the VF building, yet still the signal in my office is awful.
VF NZ is a very sick business at present. Results are not good and they are cutting staff at present.

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Vodafone NZ are NOT cutting staff what 100% rubbish!! I suggest you subscribe to Vodafone careers!! Recruiter is lies!! What a DIK head

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I was above Quay St at a function near the action and had no issues with XT

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Did you not read the comments? Ignore recruiter

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Your inability to put forward even the slightest credible argument really sickens me ..

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A PR consultant's nanny??? Gee - Which of the other two telcos does that nanny do PR for?? Not exactly believable...

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Further to this Vodafone NZ is doing very well in mobile and fixed line and got a fantastic result last year! Recruiter is ALL LIES!

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unlike @vodafoneNZ users I had no problems with @TelecomNZ XT. 3Mbps downloads at #EdenPark on Friday night.

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Classic. Karl bro, you are an idiot. VF cut a load of contractors last week. That or I have been interviewing apparitions.

Anyway, what is yr interest in this story Mr Bro? Trying to work out where you fit into the picture.

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Sounds like Karl is now getting worried that Voda will cut his job!! Number of customers in an area is irrelevant as all companies should create networks to cater for their own customer base. This has to include known spikes in demand. I also had no problems on XT.

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Failure on vodafones network seems to be recurring theme whereever there seems to be an event on, check with google if you dont believe me.

I was at the Wales South Africa game and XT went like a charm on my galaxy SII. My Xperia Arc with a Voda SIM however was DOA... I wonder how long it'll be before someone takes legal action against Vodafone four touting the "most reliable network" when this clearly isnt the case as has been demonstrated repeatedly

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What a load of c*** - do you call this journalism NBR? Do you expect us to pay for this?

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who is Karl - sadly too illiterate to be senior within VF, so maybe a family member? Do any of the exec have teenage sons??

Bottom line, VF needs radical change at the top in order to change the way they operate in NZ.

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This article reads like something from the Onion.

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Our office is in Auckland CBD and I couldn't make calls from about lunchtime on, required removing the battery from my phone, and then you might get one through , but mainly just beeping and not dialling at all - no calls came through either - VM seemed delayed as well . Clearly an overloading thing as today back in spot - working as well as it ever did (which is not to say working fine)

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Any event at Eden Park that has more than 20k people will cause an issue on the Voda network. It happens all the time. It will happen again next game....

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I have nor problems and I work in the CBD and yes Im am XT

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Who needs an outage to damage a company's brand, when they can settle for Karl Bro...? lol

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I thought one went to a sporting event to watch sport not play with your phone.

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Bro, u love voda too much aye.

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Vodafone is showing the arrogance of Contact Energy at the moment - and customers are just starting to show them the appropriate response. As a previously very happy BELLSOUTH customer originally (and now a Vodafone customer) of nearly 17 years (spending the thick end of $500 per month on my vodafone account) I have been very disappointed with the lack of service recently. My children refuse to use Vodafone and insist on Telecom XT and 2 degrees phones as do their peers. This doesnt bode well for Vodafones customer retention prospects.

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$500 / month??? 2D has a $149 "all-you-can-eat" plan that will save you $350 / month... Sounds like you want out anyway, so there's no reason not to switch...

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Just saw this article so thought I'd repeat my comments I left on Computerworld of my experience of no Vodafone 3G at Eden Park:

I was at the opening ceremony at Eden Park and bemused that I could not get Vodafone 3G data coverage on a new Galaxy S2 phone the whole time I was at Eden Park (from 6pm). The best I got was I managed to get a tweet out on the way to the stadium on the bus.

According to this article - <url>http://www.nzherald.co.nz/business/news/article.cfm?c_id=3&objectid=1073... </url> on the herald it mentions Vodafone have added "13km of fibre cables and 247 antennae" to ensure extra capacity around Eden Park for the World Cup with the intent of also handling social media sharing. Based on Friday night I'm concerned they could not even allow us to connect to 3G let alone send photos/video.I also experienced txt and calling problems throughout the day both at the Viaduct and at Eden Park.

I have tickets to the RWC Final, can Vodafone give any assurances that this won't be repeated for that event and can anyone attending any upcoming games at Eden Park confirm that they are able to use Vodafone 3G and effectively send media content. I will be very interested in the results.

[See also NBR's (paid) article on Telecom and Vodafone's World Cup build up: http://www.nbr.co.nz/opinion/telcos-fall-out-over-world-cup-coverage - CK]

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When you go to the final why don't you just watch the rugby??

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Yep I definitely plan to thanks :) However, the issue is we have paid for 3G data access, Vodafone has stated they have upgraded their services to handle the extra capacity at Eden Park and regularly promote the ability to use social media services on their network. Yet in my experience on Friday it was totally inaccessible. How a Vodafone customer decides to use the data access is up to them and there are opportunities
to do this before and after the game and at half time and still enjoy the rugby to the fullest.

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My XT mobile worked just fine at the Viaduct and at the Game

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i just dont like the defensive attitude, if you did something wrong own up to it eh

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Did anyone think that it could be because Vodafone has more roaming-in people? Telecom's network will only carry roamers using 850MHz which is no where as big as the number Vodafone will be carrying.

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@tek - bull - XT has 2100 in metro settings as well as 850, so your in-bound roamer excuses dont wash either

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Do you guys really expect Vodafone (or Telecom, or Fullers Ferries, or Auckland Council, or the train company etc etc etc) to spend a huge amount of money adding capacity to cover a temporary surge in demand to a level that will never be seen again?

Dream on!

Auckland ratepayers have willingly or otherwise spent hundreds of miilions doing so (ie Eden Park) but nobody else is going to. Would you?

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Wow what a great article, where can i sign up for the paid stuff, because this is of a really high standard.

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Correct me if I'm wrong - but last I checked New Zealand is hosting the Rugby World Cup - not the "I can't handle not being able to use my mobile phone for a couple hours" world convention!!

For god's sake people - get over it & perhaps WATCH the Rugby!!!

Adam Jobbins sounds like a right royal desperado - who obviously suffers from sepration anxiety when he can't use his surgically attached iCrap phone - of which the phone's software contributes a lot to the actual problems in the first place.

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Little sympathy for the waterfront people. We have frequent "no service" in the Eastern Bays - and each resumed call is a plus for Vodafone's revenue. There is no incentive for the company to address this issue.

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