Castalia copper guy gets last laugh


Chris Keall

The author of Telecom, TelstraClear and Vodafone’s jointly-commissioned, fibre-hostile Castalia report has been appointed to the government’s new national infrastructure unit, which will report to Bill English.

Alex Sundakov, the executive director of international public sector advisor Castalia, gained notoriety earlier this year when a report by his consultancy said New Zealand’s copper network could meet the country’s bandwidth requirements for many years to come, and questioned whether there would be enough demand to make fibre-to-the-premise economically viable.

Communications and IT minister Steven Joyce seemingly had little time for the Castalia report, saying that left to their own devices, telling a Commerce Commission broadband conference in February that, left to their own devices, telcos would take up to 30 years to migrate from copper - understandable from their shareholder-driven perspective, but putting a handbrake on New Zealand’s international competitiveness. Mr Joyce said fibre was the only answer. Anybody who didn’t see the need for fibre to drive cloud computing and other new business computing initiatives didn’t understand the internet in 2009.

The big three telcos quickly backed away from the report they had commissioned from Castalia.

Mr Joyce announced his $1.5 billion plan for fibre-to-the-home on March 31, and the boot seemed firmly on the other foot.

Hope fades for a faster roll-out
The most obvious criticism of Mr Joyce’s plan is that for an infrastructure play so vital to our international competitiveness, it has a pretty relaxed schedule. Businesses, schools, hospitals and “the first tranche of homes” will get fibre within six years of the roll-out starting, and others within 10.

My guess is that if Castalia’s Mr Sundakov has anything to do with it, the national infrastructure unit will broker no acceleration of that schedule (Mr Sundakov is not alone on the board, I should add, though in terms of broadband, Keallhauled would have like to have seen his influence balanced by someone more fibre and utility-friendly, like Temple's Dr Paul Winton. Read more on the national infrastructure unit here).

The irony is that in its attempt to regain the initiative, Mr Sundakov’s one-time backer, Telecom, has not only come out as a firm advocate of fibre, but promised to connect all hospitals and schools – including rural ones – within three years. It would take fibre further, and faster, than Mr Joyce has proposed.

Use WolframAlpha to calculate bandwidth, download times
After the initial, instinctive backlash, people are starting to wrap their heads around Wolfram Alpha.

Take these examples queries at Royal Pingdom, which are designed for web masters, but useful for anyone curious about the time it takes to download a huge file, or dumbfounded by Kbit/s vs Kbyte/s vs Mbit/s etc. (The download equations do assume consistent speed, which often absent in the world of DSL, but you get the general drift).

Meet the readers
The Top 5 stories on today:

Super-bogan Claire generates $200,000 in online ad dollars
Mid May, Sydney’s Claire Werbeloff gained 15 minutes of fame after appearing in Channel Nine’s “Raw” footage of interviews with witnesses to a Kings Cross shooting, as posted to

If only it were 15 minutes. Ms Werbeloff’s comments - charmingly bogan or blankly racist, depending on your munter quotient point-of-view – are still starring on the Microsoft Australia portal, which today uses a Will Ferrell interview as a vehicle to promote her again.

Anyhow, TechWired has an interesting piece in which BuzzMetrics reckons Ms Werbeloff sparked around 100,000 online conversations (ironically, more on Twitter and Facebook than NineMSN), or the equivalent of $A40,000 in online ad dollars for social media sites, which bagged 41% of the discussion (27% of conversations occurred on blogs and forums, and 12% on news sites)

Has Vodafone muffed its Twitter account?
Comms guy Paul Brislen did a brilliant job running the Vodafone account on Twitter, building a following by mixing the company’s blunter messages with lots of engaging chit-chat, support hints and useful links.

Now, marketing types have taken over the account to drive the company’s incessent Find 3G Guy competition, causing a growing number to #unfollow. Lance Wiggs graphically illustrates the break-down. (Incidentally, VodafoneNZ, with 2359 followers, still maintains a healthy lead over TelecomNZ with 1961.

Meanwhile, Mr Brislen has reanimated a personal account, which jumped overnight to 258 followers.

The future of cinema is here
Megashark vs Giant Octopus in 3D, or at least YouTube 2D. In theatres later this year:

3 · Got a question about this story? Leave it in Comments & Questions below.

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3 Comments & Questions

Commenter icon key: Subscriber Verified

I signed up for a twitter account using a pseudonym.

I have never posted a single tweet and don't follow anyone.

But I have *one* follower already.


What's that follower expecting to read?

I think it's dangerous to consider the number of followers you have on twitter as any kind of success-metric. Clearly, some people will follow *anyone*.

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Clearly :-)

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would I want to get into/onto Twitter.
I suspect I need to be a Twit to do it.

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