Monday, June 20, 2005

"There will be regular blackouts..."

Oh how ironic that is! After suffering through all sorts of communications failures today, I come home to foolishly watch some television and I'm watching one of Telecom's Lions tour advertisements. I found it immensely amusing when the above line was spouted, with the hindsight of today communications experience.

Enough is enough. I'd hate to think how many tens of millions today's episode cost the New Zealand economy. Here are some of the outages I've heard about today: -

  • Xtra Dialup, Jetstream, and Private Office Networking affected in 03, 04, 06, 07 and 09 area codes
  • Many other ISP's affected - often because they are reselling Telecom UBS services
  • Xtra Mobile Services
  • Telecom's call centres overloaded
  • New Zealand Post Point-Of-Sale and EFTPOS down
  • Some government websites went offline - particularly those hosted by the Department of Internal Affairs - opps. Some are still offline as I write this.
  • University of Canterbury lost their internet connection entirely
  • 027 network failed in some parts of the Waikato/Bay of Plenty and Auckland too
  • Reports of parts of the PTSN network failing, possibly from overloading
  • Rumour that an Airways site had some troubles, but they have microwave backup, so may not have been an issue
  • Borders lost their Point-Of-Sale as well
  • Emergency Services phones weren't directly affected, but they did suffer difficulties with their computers
  • Closed the NZ Sharemarket for five hours
  • Banks using Telecom also had their financial transactions greatly slowed
  • And some retailers shut shop

So what caused this? Well, two seemingly unrelated events - a damaged bridge in the Rimutaka's and and digger accident in the Taranaki. There may have even been third and fourth events - another cable broken in the Waikato, and a failure in the Mayoral Drive exchange in Auckland - but they are unconfirmed.

If this is Telecom's contribution to beating the Lions by forcing us back to the dark ages then I want no part of it.

But more importantly, there is a very important political angle to this whole event, and it highlights a very disturbing trend - one of putting too many eggs in one basket - something our socialist sister seems only too keen to do.

Over the last year, the government has had the opportunity to unbundle the local loop - an option that the Labour cabinet decided against. Well Helen, paybacks a bitch eh?

By not unbundling the local loop, the Labour government has strengthened the position of the monopolistic provider of telecommunications services in New Zealand. Had the local loop been unbundled, we would have seen the development of new networks and telecommunications users in New Zealand would have had more competition and a means of diversifying their exposure to a single telecommunications provider. Instead, an Unbundled Bitstream Service (UBS) was one peace offering made to the unknowing and unwilling New Zealand masses. UBS is a wholesale service offered by Telecom that is onsold through other ISP's. So, you may well have found that even though you had a DSL connection through another ISP today, that you lost your connection all the same because it was a Telecom service. Last year, it appeared that Telecom provided about 80% of broadband services in New Zealand. I guess that means they didn't provide much service to most of the country today.

I'm hopeful that perhaps this event will highlight to others that Telecom needs to be declawed and neutered, a bit like the pussies playing the All Blacks this weekend.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

The telecom problems are going to get worse before they get better Power outages will start in Auckland in 2007 and get worse.Lack of infrastructure.Of course both are being down played by the usual suspects.The punters dont know whats going to hit them.RMA means power fix timeline is already passed.Still like the Auckland roads when you fail to plan you plan to fail

6/22/2005 04:44:00 PM  
Blogger Bernard Woolley said...

Yep, and there is more than a casual relationship between the privatisation of critical infrastructure and the lack of long term planning that occurs. I would call myself generally supportive of privatisation of retail infrastructure services, such as telecoms retailers, power retailers etc, but I am become fonder of some form of coordinated infrastructure planning to ensure that there is planning for change over time. This may require some form of legislation unless govt is to take over. I'm not sure which way I'd tend right now - central govt vs company. But I agree, things would tend to indicate that they will get worse before they get better. Especially with the increasing interdependance we have on certain elements of critical infrastructure. Roads, power and telecommunications would be the obvious three, naturally there are more. Unfortunately because of things like the RMA, we can't just throw money at it to make it better. And as has been highlighted recently, there are additional health concerns (which may or may not have a scientific basis) - electricity disitrbution and cellular towers being the two obvious ones. And Aucklands power? I think the only quick solution is going to be a modern/safe nuclear reactor out at Kaipara as has been suggested by some.

6/22/2005 08:38:00 PM  

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