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'Angry' Reynolds orders independent review of XT

Sorry, Hamster, your services aren't required for this one.Telecom chief executive Paul Reynolds has tonight issued a statement saying he has commissioned an independent review of his company's 3G mobile network, XT.

Chris Keall
Wed, 27 Jan 2010

Sorry, Hamster, your services aren't required for this one.

Telecom chief executive Paul Reynolds has tonight issued a statement saying he has commissioned an independent review of his company’s 3G mobile network, XT.

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The network, which went live late May, was built in partnership with Alcatel Lucent.

A spokesperson for Telecom had no immediate comment on who would carry out the review (though it seems a safe bet it won't be Richard Hammond testing it this time) or whether its results would be made public.

"[It's a] good idea but the outcome needs to be transparent to major customers, warts and all, if credibility is to be restored. Generalisations and platitudes won't wash," said Telecommunications Users Association boss Ernie Newman in response to the plan.

Issues raised by critics after XT's December 14 outages included the fact that Vodafone could fall back on its 2G network when problems occurred with its 3G network (though in practice overloading has sometimes occurred under this scenario) while Telecom older CDMA network is incompatible with XT and offers no safety net.

The point was also raised that Telecom only has two RNC switches controlling its XT network (one in Christchurch controlling traffic from Taupo south and one in Auckland controlling Taupo north) while Vodafone has six for its 3G network.

“XT has grown extremely rapidly to serve hundreds of thousands of New Zealanders. I am angry at the recent outages that have affected parts of the network, including one this morning,” Dr Reynolds said.

“I apologise to our customers who have been inconvenienced, but also recognise that words are not enough. That’s why we are taking rapid action and I am determined to be up front and open with our loyal XT customers on this.

“XT is built as a world-class network but clearly it should not have had these problems.

“With our technology and operations partner Alcatel-Lucent, we have already been working on capacity and design improvements to protect customers.

Telecom is also currently in the process of increasing the speed and capacity of its XT network with an ongoing upgrade to HSPA+, again in concert with its long-time partner Alcatel Lucent.

No word on compo yet
Conspicuously, Dr Reynolds did not address the issue of compensation.

After the day-long December 14 outage, XT customers were give a weekend's free calling, and a back-dated Monday free. 

For Tuanz' Mr Newman, financial recompense wasn't the key focus.

"Compensation might offset some of the brand damage," Mr Newman wrote to his corporate membership.

But the Tuanz chief executive wanted to know what Telecom was doing to identify and rectify the cause of the problem, and stop it happening again: "Only answers to these questions will convince XT customers that they haven't backed the wrong horse."

Outage latest
As of 7.45pm this evening, Telecom said it was still having problems with some lower North Island cell sites. [And some still on the following morning, Thursday - CK].

Speaking to NBR earlier this evening, Chris Quin, chief executive of Telecom’s Gen-i services division, said the cause of today’s outage had been traced to Christchurch - but that it was different from the fault, in the same location, that caused Telecom’s December 14 problems.

Chris Keall
Wed, 27 Jan 2010
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'Angry' Reynolds orders independent review of XT