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What A Coincidence 20 December 2001 Edition
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Million $ Ideas
At last, the contents of Aardvark's "million-dollar ideas" notebook are revealed for all to see!
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What do the telecommunications and film/recording industries have in common?

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.

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From Yesterday...
  • Wireless broadband... - Gerbs
  • Your idea is flawed... - Lonney

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    Here are a couple of the key paragraphs from the newly revised Kiwi Share agreement signed yesterday:

    • 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
    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.

    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.

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