Note: This column represents the opinions
of the writer and as such, is not represented as fact|
What do the telecommunications and film/recording industries have in common?
the contents of Aardvark's "million-dollar ideas" notebook
are revealed for all to see!
They're both huge money-earners, creating megalithic corporations whose
financial clout and effect on our every-day life is quite significant.
They also seem, perhaps coincidentally, to have government wrapped around
their little fingers.
In the period of just a couple of weeks we've seen both industries effectively
convince government that the rights of individuals are not as important as the
rights of huge, rich corporate entities such as themselves.
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First-up we had the movie/recording industry (and I lump them together because
it's all about copyright) convince the government to change the laws regarding
parallel importing of newly released materia -- and even more significantly,
introduce a presumption of guilt in respect to alleged piracy.
Even the Consumers Organization has strongly protested against this move.
Now Telecom seems to have maneuvered its way around the Kiwi Share and convinced
government to exempt some forms of Internet use.
Here are a couple of the key paragraphs from the newly revised Kiwi Share
agreement signed yesterday:
The basic thrust appears to be that Telecom must continue providing
free-dialing for fax and basic Internet access (albeit they can control/cap
the volume of calls to ISPs through the 0867 numbers) -- but they are
free to start charging for calls related to new services.
- Telecom can specify that standard internet calls must
be dialled on 0867 or another number range. Internet
calls that use other numbers may be charged for
- Standard internet calls exclude a range of data
services from the local free calling option. These
services include interactive television, voice over internet
protocol, video and online games services, and eftpos
services and new services which depend on internet
capability not already in common use
As I read it, this means that if you dial your local ISP and surf the web
you won't pay per minute -- but if you use a voice-over-Internet service
such as Net2Phone
then Telecom is within its rights to add additional charges for that call.
Likewise, local BBSes which specialise in online games are also no longer
protected by the Kiwi share and local calls to them may no longer be free.
Instead of demanding that the local loop be unbundled -- opening the doors to
cheap broadband and true competition for the domestic consumer's dollar,
the government seems to have rolled over and cried "take me, take me."
Perhaps if Telecom had been fair and reasonable over interconnect negotiations
and the issue of number portability we'd understand why there was some sympathy
in this issue -- but that's hardly the case is it?
So there we go NZers -- please remember next year when you trot off to cast
your vote, that the government (whose members are enjoying an extra
comfortable Christmas thanks to a second pay rise in 12 months) have just made
two rights-eroding decisions in favour of corporate entities.
Of course if I was really a cynic, I'd wonder where the money for that pay
rise was coming from -- after all, we were told (hands on heart) that the
coffers from which public service salaries (such as those paid to nurses)
was empty. Now I couldn't possibly suggest that there was any form of
graft or corruption going on here -- simply that coincidence is a marvelous
thing (if you're a politician, copyright holder or Telco that is).
Spilling The Beans On Walker Wireless
Tomorrow I round off the recent coverage of broadband issues by spilling the
beans on Walker Wireless.
Is their service as good as they claim?
Can they even spell the word "support?"
What are their users saying about them?
Don't miss it.
Oops -- Sorry About That
I chose yesterday to do my Christmas shopping (boy you can't buy much for
a dollar these days) so I was unable to post all the feedback that I received.
I will endeavour to get that feedback up today, along with anything you'd
care to submit on today's column.
Hey, Christmas Is The Time For Giving
Every month, Aardvark scores over half a million hits, at least 150K page views and
delivers more than 6GB of data to visitors.
All this traffic has meant that I've had to shift the site to a new server
to ensure that your daily dose is always fresh and delivered to your
browser with minimal delays.
I also invest over 300 hours per year writing the daily column and compiling
the day's news index -- all for your illumination and entertainment.
If you haven't sent any money to help offset the costs of running this
ad-free, 100% Kiwi, always fresh, often controversial site then you can give
yourself the warm-fuzzies this Christmas by doing so now.
Just drop by, click on the Aardvark, and
hand over your loot.
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