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Should Telecom Be Worried? 16 April 2002 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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Unless you live in one of the few spots around the country where there are fibre or cable alternatives, chances are that the only way you can get yourself connected to the Internet and the phone network is through copper owned by Telecom.

This virtual monopoly has provided the Telco huge strength in the market and, some would say, gives it a hugely unfair advantage over its competitors.

As I scanned the headlines this morning however, I wondered whether perhaps Telecom ought to be getting just a little nervous about the effect that emerging technologies might have on the importance of their copper.

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The first story to catch my eye was titled Broadband to hit the grid on the Sydney Morning Herald website.

Delivering broadband Net access using the maze of wires that already connect our houses to the national grid has been repeatedly mooted as a tantalisingly attractive option over the past few years. Reportedly successful trials have already been conducted in the UK and Germany -- but we're all still waiting for someone to perfect the technology and start delivering.

However, if they can work out the bugs, look for the value of line-company shares to skyrocket as Telecom's shares plunge.

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Then there was this story in today's NZ Herald which shows just how practical the new wireless systems have become.

But wait, there's more...

Across the ditch in Australia, Telstra's very similar virtual monopoly looks set to face a challenge as a consortium of others (including major power companies) prepare to team up and offer broadband alternatives.

Now, while I don't expect any of these emerging technologies to dethrone Telecom in the near future, they might cause it to start acting sensibly when it comes to sharing its copper with other players. Just about the only way the company can avoid being badly hurt by the onslaught of options is to rent its copper to competitors at a price that makes power-line or wireless delivery uneconomical.

Let's not hold our breath though -- they'll hang on to their monopoly and the license to print money it provides, right up to the very last moment -- you can be sure of that.

Of Bombs And Browsers
Last week some stupid kid blew the top off his finger while playing with a home-made bomb.

Of course he got the recipe for this explosive device from the Internet -- and' the media were quick to report this important fact. Funny how they didn't mention that the construction of a very similar device was shown on the TV series MacGyver about 15 years ago -- and is likely to be repeated now that the series is airing again on Prime TV.

Never mind -- we've become well used to the Net being blamed these days for every home-made bomb that goes off prematurely so it's hardly big news.

However, if you believe that these online bomb recipes are the root cause of all amateur explosions then it's time to get worried -- very worried.

Why? -- well according to this story from the BBC, your kids might just be making a nuke in the garage after very detailed information was made available on the Net.

Have your say.

IMPORTANT NOTE
Due to other higher-priority calls on my time and resources over the coming days, the publication of this column may be a little erratic.

Normal service will be resumed as soon as possible however.

The Jet-Kart is For Sale
It's time to clear out the closet here at Aardvark's country residence so I'm having a bit of a garage sale. I need to spend a whole lot more time and money on my jet engine R&D activities (now that the defense industry has shown a very real interest) -- so I'm trying to scrape up some more cash.

The world-famous Jet-powered Gokart is up for sale by way of an informal auction. Send me your bid and I'll post the current highest offer on a webpage that will appear here soon.

As far as I'm aware, this is the only pulsejet-powered gokart in the Southern Hemisphere -- I wonder why that is?

It may not be the quietest, smoothest, most comfortable or safest vehicle in the world -- but it's sure different!

To place a bid, just drop me a line.

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