Vodafone customers complain about World Cup outages
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.
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.