Vodafone is poised to grab the Dunedin City Council’s cellphone and landline business from Telecom, with the two sides due to sign a contract this afternoon.
The two-year deal, with a one-year rollover, involves 300 mobile accounts.
All up, the council has 981 staff, although not all use dedicated landlines.
The council’s data services – currently held by Telecom – are still up for tender, with a decision to be made next month.
“The old way of doing business was the one-stop shop,” Dunedin City Council customer services general manager Grant Strang told NBR, elaborating on his decision to unbundled the contracts.
“There’s a lot more competition in the market now and a lot more options. It’s the right thing to be doing.”
The XT effect – or not
The voice services tender pre-dated the series of four XT outages over December, January and February – which hit Dunedin harder than most.
Vodafone’s regional sales manager for the South Island, Graham Mearns said it was his company’s potential to cut costs, rather than XT problems, which led the council to leave Telecom.
But the problems with XT would certainly have made an upgrade to Telecom’s new network less attractive, said Mr Mearns.
“Telecom has lost its cloak of invincibility,” said Mr Mearns. “People who would never talk to us before will now listen to us.”
The council's Mr Strang said cost reduction was part of his rationale to recommend the DCC go with Vodafone.
The DCC has most of its mobile phones on Telecom’s older CDMA network. There will be a three-month transition to Vodafone 3G, with existing phone numbers ported across.
Some staff who are out in the field a lot would lose their landline, and go mobile-only – getting souped up models if they needed to access email, and the council’s property and document databases on the move.
When the XT failures hit, “I was concerned as a New Zealander,” Mr Strang told NBR. “I felt for Telecom and I felt for the country. But the tender process was already underway.”
Getting to know you
The general manager said while price was a key factor, the tender also asked Telecom and Vodafone to detail their customer service options, business continuity plans, backhaul capability, robustness of their networks, and their ability to form a strong operational relationship with the council’s IT staff and help desk, among other criteria.
“At the end of it I knew the greatest points of weakness in both networks,” said Mr Strang.
The DCC maintains a strong relationship with Telecom, the GM said.
The telco's services division, Gen-i, maintains its hold on the council's back-end systems and other contracted IT services, which are covered by a separate tender to the voice deal being sealed this afternoon, and the data deal being decided next month.