iPhone on XT ... it’s a fail
[UPDATE: Since writing the below, I've been able to insert the Telecom XT SIM into my Nokia Navigator 6210 - a Vodafone-bought handset - and successfully make voice calls over XT. Clarity is fine. Still wrestling with data, though it's not clear if XT has returned to full operation after this morning's filter installation-related downtime.]
I really wanted it to work. For iPhone owners, a choice of two network owners is better than one - even if one is unofficial.
But ... it was a fail.
Lacking an iPhone myself (Apple, are you listening?) I borrowed one from one of NBR’s immediate neighbours: Tomizone founder Steve Simms.
Among other things, Steve is an iPhone whizz and one of the first people in New Zealand to receive an iPhone 3G from Apple, so I figured we were covered against any stupid mistakes.
With a little help from a paper clip, out came the Vodafone SIM, and in went the Telecom XT SIM.
The next step in hopping between networks is to plug your iPhone into a PC (or MacBook, in this case) to download settings for your new carrier.
This is where we hit the wall.
There were no settings for Telecom NZ available on iTunes.
Telecom suggested that XT transmitters in the immediate area (we were in Customs St East, in central Auckland) could be down as the company continues its High Court-ordered, accelerated filter roll-out. [UPDATE: Telecom has just said XT service was down.]
It also suggested the XT SIM card could be faulty.
But with the carrier settings not officially available through iTunes, the immediate state of XT, or the SIM card, was irrelevant.
Until Telecom gets official iPhone distribution rights, maybe it's just not possible to get carrier settings onto iTunes.
Gen-i boss Chris Quin has, famously, been showing his XT-connected iPhone around town for some time.
And indeed software hack can be used to get around the lack of official support on iTunes, but as a regular citizen, Steve doesn’t want to do that. Even assuming they have the requisite technical nous, I don’t think most mainstream users, or certainly business people, would be comfortable with that back-alley solution either.
"We can’t guarantee that all the services on a phone that was not provided by Telecom will be immediately available, as such devices haven’t been optimised for our network.
"We will however have solutions in place for over-the-air reconfiguration so devices that were purchased and brought to Telecom can have access to our portal, content and other XT network specific applications."
Anyhow, there are still a couple of weeks to go until XT’s launch, and I’m going to revisit this one ahead of it. Keep watching this space.
Incidentally, although we got no XT reception, the iPhone did pick up NZ Comms (aka 2degrees). As ever, our third carrier is lurking.
More on the potential for network hopping with iPhone in my original blog post this morning here.
(Correction: Telecom has advised that Geekzone's Mauricio Freitas has not connected to XT via an iPhone. Mr Freitas has connected via an AT&T Pantech Matrix Pro, and has yet to attempt to connect via an Apple handset. For the record, Mauricio connected the Pantech phone to his laptop via USB and achieved 3.28Mbit/s download speed and 0.27Mbit/s upload..)