Reader Comments on Aardvark Daily 18 April 2002
Note: the comments below are the unabridged
submissions of readers and do
not necessarily reflect the opinions of the publisher.
To: firstname.lastname@example.org Subject: Telecom's DSL service Date sent: Mon, 11 Mar 2002 13:35:18 +1300 Hi Paul, If you've been reading my daily Internet Industry column at aardvark.co.nz or any other industry news media, you'll be acutely aware that Telecom has numerous problems (both technical and otherwise) with its DSL service. My summary of the latest events is at http://aardvark.co.nz/daily/2002/0306.shtml if you want to read it and I can provide links to other relevant articles run on other sites if you'd like.. Due to its monopoly and control of the local loop (a critical component of the DSL delivery chain) Telecom is really the only provider of such broadband Internet access. Yes, there are areas where TelstraSaturn and a few others are providing very localised broadband, and a few wireless operators are providing limited coverage and service but in too many cases they're simply not delivering (check out http://aardvark.co.nz/daily/2001/1221.shtml for an example). Based on the experience of other countries, DSL delivered through the local loop is, and looks set to remain, the most viable broadband Net access system. Unfortunately, Telecom appears to be paying little more than lip-service to the delivery of a fast, reliable, affordable DSL service in New Zealand -- and that's a major roadblock for our knowledge economy. It is well known that Telecom would much rather sell its far more expensive frame-relay and other data services to business users than DSL. Given that a reliable, affordable DSL service will meet the needs of 99% of business users, Telecom has plenty of reasons why it would not want to fix the numerous faults that currently exist with the product -- it would reduce their revenues. Now I realise that it's not government's role to tell private industry how to structure, price or maintain its products and services but I believe that we have a situation here which is quite exceptional. Firstly, in the 21st century, data communications is every bit as much an "essential service" as is the supply of electricity. Increasingly, modern businesses can not operate efficiently (or in some cases at all) without reliable Internet communications. Secondly, Telecom has a very effective monopoloy on a core component of any DSL service -- the local loop. Unless the company is made to open up access to that local loop at a *reasonable* price then no real competition will be seen and Telecom will be able to continue with its current practices and policies. Thirdly, Telecom are asking those who sign up for its JetStream DSL service to write them an open cheque in respect to metered traffic charges. Because they bill for every byte sent and received, whether solicited or not, any NZ business using this service can be effectively stung for tens of thousands of dollars by competitors or malicious parties who may be operating half a world away. That is a level of risk that no business can afford to run and is reason enough to make Telecom's flavour (the only flavour available) of DSL too risky to touch. I am aware that we have a Telecommunications Commissioner position being established but I think this requires a far more fundamental change to the rules. Please don't underestimate the significance of this issue. Without the right broadband Net-access infrastructure, much of this motivational and rousing noise being made and supported by government in the area of building a knowledge economy is being wasted. I look forward to your earliest response and ask that if you'd like to have it published in Aardvark, then please indicate this. Regards Bruce Simpson Editor/Publisher Aardvark Daily http://aardvark.co.nz/ To: Bruce Simpson Editor/Publisher Aardvark Daily Dear Mr Simpson Thank you for your 11 March 2002 e-mail in which you expressed a range of concerns about the development of broadband Internet access services in New Zealand. In summary, the key points that you expressed in your e-mail were that:Hit Reload For Latest Comments
In respect of the first three points, I certainly recognise the importance of Telecom's local loop access network to the development of broadband telecommunications access services in New Zealand. As you will be aware the Telecommunications Act 2001, which came into force in December 2001, specifically addresses the issue of unbundling and requires the Telecommunications Commissioner to report to the Minister by December 2003 on whether access to the unbundled elements of Telecom's local loop network should be regulated. This will ensure that the issue of unbundling the local loop in the context of the development of New Zealand's broadband access services is reconsidered in the light of international experience and local developments. I asked my officials to obtain Telecom's comments on the problems that it is experiencing in providing reliable DSL based broadband services. Telecom says that it had recently experienced some problems with 'micro outages'. Telecom said that in December 2001 Nokia completed software upgrades on a core component of the JetStream service. Telecom also said that it has reviewed all modem settings, made appropriate configuration changes and that it was confident these actions have resolved the 'micro-outages' problem. As you know, I have consistently explained that the provision of reliable, cost effective and timely telecommunications services, including broadband access services, are critical to our economic development including the knowledge economy. In this respect it is important that broadband uptake in New Zealand continue to expand, in line with developments in comparable OECD countries. With respect to current broadband coverage in New Zealand, I understand that Telecom has DSL enabled some 148 telephone exchanges and that 63% of Telecom's residential customers and 78% of business customers can access its JetStream or JetStart broadband services. As you are aware, the availability of broadband access in rural areas is an important issue for government. In this respect the Government has set the challenging objective of ensuring that all New Zealand communities are able to access two-way high speed Internet services by the end of 2003. The objective was set to assist in achieving a range of government strategies in rural areas including, eCommerce, eGovernment; regional development, and ICT in schools. Five regional broadband pilots have been initiated to improve the development of the infrastructure and up-take of high speed Internet services in rural areas under a facilitated demand aggregation model. The aim is to establish effective working partnerships with local government, business and communities to find local solutions. Finally, it should be noted that as well as requiring a mandatory review of local loop unbundling, the Telecommunications Act 2001 also requires a mandatory review of access to, and interconnection with, Telecom's fixed private data network. This will ensure that the need to connect broadband access circuits with Telecom's broadband data network is fully considered at the same time as the unbundling issue. I would welcome publication of my response in Aardvark. Yours sincerely Hon Paul Swain Minister of Communications From: Alan For : The Editor (for publication) Subj: broadband Dear Sir,I was interested to read Paul Swain,s reply to you in regards to DSL access,especially where he says that all the problems with ADSL micro outages have been fixed. Paul Swain should go to www.pcworld.co.nz and check out the help column for internet users called press F1. You will find that there are a lot of unhappy Jetstream and Jetstart users. From: Brian Harmer For : The Editor (for publication) Subj: Sorry State of DSL Having had Jetstream for a little over a week, I was beginning to think that I was experiencing the much talked of micro-outages. However, on investigation, I discovered that the default configuration on my otherwise excellent (so far) Dynalink router is to drop the connection after 10 minutes of inactivity. Since that box was unchecked, no further problems have been experienced ... but it's early days yet. On the matter of getting the Minister's reply as a Word document, I fear that it is a de facto standard, just by the sheer volume of copies out there. It is almost as inevitable as the fact that he used English. He could have chosen the allegedly more reasonable "open standard" of Esperanto. Of course, fewer of us would have been able to read his message if he had gone with the preferred standard :-) Aardvark Responds MS Word documents attached to an email are not (yet) the de facto standard for text-only email communications. The vast majority of email that travels around the Net is in plain-text form. The only justification for using anything other than plain-text is where the message needs to contain non-text elements that have context-sensitive placement within the document. Common-sense would suggest that even if the choice is made to send a plain-text email as an attached MS Word document, it is a matter of courtesy to also include an ascii-text version in the email body. After all, it only takes a couple of seconds to do a copy/paste operation from the WP screen to the email client. I would have also thought that, given the importance of security within government, and the undoubted existence of yet to be disclosed security holes in MS Word/Office, keeping things simple would be a key part of reducing the sender's and recipient's vulnerability to viruses/trojans/etc. Or have I got this wrong? Am I showing my age by suggesting that sending plain text messages as an MS Word document attachment is poor practice and bad manners? Readers are invited to respond. From: Brian Harmer For : The Editor (for publication) Subj: ADSL Following the advice of a previous correspondent, I went to the "PressF1" website. Unless Telecom are somehow sucking those messages out, I found not a single message relating to Jetstream or Jetstart. Am I missing something here? From: Allister For : The Editor (for publication) Subj: You're not old, Bruce You are not wrong about MS-Word attachments. They're only called for when the content of the document exists as an entity outside of the email, and email is simply the delivery mechanism, or for the reasons you stated. A plain text response to yours would be the only valid one in this case. The other thing about MS-Word, apart from viruses and the availability of the software, is that its file sizes are very large (compared to the plain-text). Add to this the 7- bit encoding required to attach it to the email and we're talking some serious bandwidth if everybody were to do it. Minsiters will use MS-Word for emails just as long as people insist on screen captures being JPEGs and photos being GIFs. Joe public has the tools, just not the training.
- due to its monopoly and control of the local loop Telecom is the only provider of broadband Internet access service;
- that other broadband Internet access suppliers provide limited coverage and in many cases they are simply not delivering;
- that based on the experience of other countries, DSL over the local loop looks set to remain the most viable broadband Internet access service;
- that Telecom has numerous technical problems with its DSL service and appears to be paying little more than "lip-service" to the delivery of a fast, reliable, affordable DSL service in New Zealand;
- that reliable Internet communications is every bit as much an "essential service" as the supply of electricity; and
- that this situation is a major roadblock for the development of New Zealand's knowledge economy.
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