Archive for the ‘Telecom NZ’ Category

New Zealand, Telecom and the future

Wednesday, February 28th, 2007

For my New Zealand friends who read this site, I recommend you take a look at the following posting from one of your best and brightest.

Rod Drury has written a paper entitled, “Securing our Digital Trade Routes” and it makes some strong and appropriate suggestions with regard to what New Zealand should do about reforming its telecommunications structure – if it doesn’t want to get left at the back of the pack with the third-world nations.

I highly recommend it.

Here’s the link to his post and the paper:

070223 – Friday – A Telecom saga follow-up

Friday, February 23rd, 2007

I wrote a series of articles (here: , , & ) while I was in New Zealand about the hassles I had with Telecom, the NZ company that has a monopoly on the country’s Internet infrastructure and which has that structure pretty tangled up.

I had problems from day one with their Go Large service. Skype wouldn’t work there without the voice stream being so chopped up that it was unusable and my DSL line would drop me repeatedly every 10 minutes or so and then automatically reconnect me. After two weeks or so of major pain, I found a work-around (I had to slow my modem/router down by half so the DSL equipment in their exchange wouldn’t drop me). I never did get Skype to work well. After a month and a half, Telecom finally fixed my DSL drops problem and I could boost my modem/router speed back up to nominal. Skype was a disaster the whole time and probably still is.

A lot of people complained and Telecom was polite when you talked to them but glacial in terms of actually doing or admitting anything. Well, the other shoe’s finally dropped as you see in the following article:


Telecom forced to refund broadband customers

Broadband users on Telecom’s Go Large service are in line to receive a refund of at least $130.

Telecom has announced today they are crediting customers of the service for monthly plan charges incurred since last December because of a problem with the management of customer downloads under the plan.


061216 – Saturday – Telecom ‘Go Large’ problems – a fix

Friday, December 15th, 2006

This is the fourth in a series of postings on this topic. You’ll need to read the earlier posts to see what’s on here.

Post I

Post II

Post III

The big new today is not that Telecom has fixed the problem. They have not, to my knowledge. It is that a fellow up in Auckland has devised a functional work-around until Telecom does get things sorted out.

You can find a “How To” document on on the fix here:

Read everything before trying this and if it doesn’t work for you, do not contact me – I am not going to do technical support of this.

You are welcome to add comments to this post, however, to record your experiences with this fix so others can learn from your work.

061214 – Thursday – Telecom ‘Go Large’ problems – continued

Wednesday, December 13th, 2006

This is my third post on this subject. My first post is here Part I and my second post is here Part II. Reading the previous posts is recommended before wading into this one as there’s a lot of history.

Rather than recap a lot of details that everyone is familiar with from the first two posts, I’m going to focus here on what’s new.

There’s been two interesting developments since my second post (though the bottom line is that I am STILL experiencing drops which is the core problem which has provoked these posts and the other measures I’m taking to try to get these problems resolved).

The first interesting development is that from 0830 yesterday morning, when I sat down at my computer to begin the day, until 1550 in the afternoon, I had NO DROPS – none. My signal was as solid as a rock. At one point, I downloaded a 156MB file from Microsoft in the USA and it came across flawlessly at 160+ KB/Sec.

At 1550 in the afternoon, I experienced my first drop and they have continued, apparently unabated until now at 0900 on December 14th (Christchurch, New Zealand time).

This tells me that Telecom’s equipment is certainly capable of providing the type of service I want and expect.

The second interesting development occurred at about 1615 yesterday. I received a call from Telecom inquiring as to how my broadband service was.

I quizzed the fellow who called me to determine if he was calling in response to my long standing ‘connectivity drop’ problems or if this was just an unconnected courtesy call from Telecom. He said his call was unconnected to my ongoing problems. Well, perhaps, but I found the timing to be remarkable, if that’s true.

He listened to my description of my problems. At the point when he called, I’d just experienced my first two drops for the day (at 1550 & 1604) after over seven hours of uninterrupted solid service. He gave me a new E-mail address which I can use to inform Telecom of my broadband problems ( and he also gave me three phone numbers which I might get technical assistance ( in addition to the one I’ve been calling thus far, 0800-00-30-40).

The new numbers were:

127 – call this for automated assistance.
0800-xtra – talk to human beings here.
0800-22-55-98 – talk to human beings here as well.

I made sure he had my problem case #, 129-33-084, and we rang off.

My drop problems continued continued through the evening yesterday and into this morning. It’s December 14th @ 0915 in Christchurch just now and I’ve been experiencing connection drops over the last hour or so for 5% of the time I’ve been monitoring with my pinger program.

This morning, I placed yet another call to Telecom @ 0800-00-30-40 and talked to Ashwini in first level broadband technical support. I gave her my case # and after she’d read a bit to get caught up, I told her about the 7+ hours I’d experienced with no drops yesterday and I asked her if she could carry that information to the Advanced Group and request they revert my line to however they had it configured from 0830 to 1550, yesterday.

She did this and came back and told me the following: She said that they are experimenting with configuration profiles in an effort to fix the problems that I and many others are having (her words, ‘many others’) and that this was probably why I saw my service improve. She also said that at about 1600 yesterday, they had a shift change and, at that time, the old configurations would have been put in again and that this is probably why my service had reverted to dropping again.

Again, as many other people I talked to have said as well, she asserted that they are “working on the problem” but that there is no ETA for getting it fixed. I sensed at that point, that I wasn’t going to get any more new information.

Before we rang off, I asked her for the spelling of her name and for her employee number. She spelled her name for me (Ashwini) but she said that she couldn’t give her employee number as they’d just had a directive down that they are not to do that. This is, apparently, a new policy as just a few days ago, I had a Telecom employee give me his employee number of his own accord.

Bottom Line

– Telecom’s equipment is capable of delivering good service as I experienced for 7+ hours yesterday.

– Telecom’s first level broadband technical support people continue to be as polite and professional as ever.

– Telecom is unwilling or unable to give an ETA for fixing these problems which have, for me, been going on since November 23rd which was the first day I was connected.

– I am going to continue to write these posts and continue to try to interest the NZ Herald, Stuff, Fair Go and other news and consumer protection agencies to become involved and interested in these matters until such time as I begin to receive the service I should be receiving.

I will remain polite and factual but I will also remain like a bulldog latched onto Telecom’s trouser leg until something happens beside genteel conversations with technical support people and refusals to give an ETA when these problems might be solved.

I encourage anyone else experiencing these same issues to speak out and contact the media and technical on-line groups and anyone else who might be able to increase the pressure to get these problems solved.

061212 – Tuesday – Telecom ‘Go Large’ problems -continued

Monday, December 11th, 2006

This is my second post on this subject. The previous post is here Part I. This post will make better sense if you read the previous one first.

There’s also a third part here Part III.

The problem is, of course, drops. My broadband service drops me every five to 15 minutes and then reconnects me after 20 or 30 seconds. I run a pinger program that pings several sites out on the Internet and I can see by looking at its records that I am in the ‘dropped’ state between 5 and 6% of the time day in and day out. This has been going on since the first day my service was connected on November 23rd. I’ve called Telecom about this issue at least every other day.

It is actually a misnomer to call this a ‘Go Large’ problem. I’ve now learned that it is a problem in the exchange (perhaps in many exchanges) so it will affect folks regardless of their plan. It won’t even do you any good to change ISPs because, inevitably, your physical connection will still come through the same exchange and hence you will experience the problem. FYI, I live in the CBD where Peterborough intersects Park Terrace by Hagley Park. I know my exchange is 1.5 km away but I couldn’t tell you where.

Today, I called into Telecom to complain once again and to try to learn more about the problem. If there are any Telecom folks reading this, my case # is 129-33-084. The notes on this case are quite long.
Today, I talked to Aaron and then Jason. They were both quite helpful and professional as everyone I’ve talked to there has been. Along the way, I learned a lot of things:

– they confirmed, once again, that the problem is in the exchange. Therefore, changing ISPs would not help as they would all go through that exchange for this address. Internally, Telecom has a case # or a problem ticket number (25007296) which uniquely identifies this exchange problem.

– apparently, Telecom has installed new cards at the exchange (perhaps many exchanges?) in an effort to improve services and it is these cards which are suspected of being the problem.

– Telecom is working with technical reps in the US on this issue.

– They looked at my profile. At the distance I am at (1.5 km from the exchange) I should probably be on low power. I would have been originally, but at one point when they were troubleshooting my problem, they changed me to a higher power setting in my profile. Apparently, it hasn’t helped as I am still being dropped 5-6% of the time, day in and day out. They changed it back today to low power. I’ve been monitoring since then (1.5 hours) and I’m still being dropped 6% of the time so the profile is a red-herring.

– the traffic ‘shaping’ Telecom does to prevent peer-to-peer downloaders from overwhelming the shared bandwidth is based on what they see in the packet headers that identifies certain peer to peer programs. Therefore, unless you are using an identified peer-to-peer program, your traffic will not be ‘shaped’.

‘shaping’ goes on 24 hours a day but people will notice their throughput rates will be generally better outside of the 4 PM to midnight window.

If one exceeds 700 MB/day, they will send you a E-mail or give you a call but he said he doesn’t think this program is up and running yet.

– I asked how I might contact a supervisor in the broadband group to register my complaints at a higher level. They gave me the following E-mail address which is where people should write if they have complaints about Telecom’s broadband services:

They said that your should include the case number of your issue in the E-mails’ title. I am going to write this address and I am going to continue publishing here. I’ve also dropped E-mail to Stuff, the NZ Herald, Fair Go and others.

I think it is intolerable that Telecom is flooding the airwaves for their new suite of services while at the same time that have such a serious problem and are taking so very long to get it sorted out. In spite of all the times I’ve talked to Telecom, I’ve never found anyone willing to venture a guess as to how long it might take to solve this issue.

One good bit of news was that yesterday, the Telecom representative I talked to refunded my $49.95 for this month’s Go Large service.

You comments and suggestions are welcomed.

061210 – Sunday – Telecom ‘Go Large’ problems

Saturday, December 9th, 2006

(This is Part I of this report. There is a second part here Part II and a third part here Part III)

I ordered Telecom’s new ‘Go Large’ Broadband Service on November 21st, 2006, and received their DSL-502T ASDL Router and was up and running by the 23rd of November. This new service is, apparently, New Zealand’s first broadband service without a throughput limit. All they ask is that you don’t do high load activities like video or song downloads between 4 PM and midnight.

Well, I’ve had problems right from the beginning with this service.

Just now, I went on-line to find a link to Telecom’s advertisement for the Go Large service and Googled on “Telecom Go Large” and immediately came across this story in PC World NZ which parallels my own very nicely.

My problem is drops. Every 10 minutes or so, the service drops my broadband link and then after 30 to 60 seconds, it automatically reconnects it. This happens night or day, regardless of whether I’m moving traffic or sitting idle. I can see when it occurs because I have a small program that simply pings (which is an extremely low load activity) several remote servers I use. When the pings are getting through, I’ve got green lights on the screen, when I’m dropped, they turn red.

On my first complaint call, I received a case # which is 129-33-084 (in case any of you Telecom PR types are reading this).

Using that case #, I’ve called and complained on each of the following days: November 23rd, 24th, 26th, 29th, December 1st, 2nd, 4th, 6th, 8th, 9th and 10th – which brings us today.

Each of my calls has been taken by a polite and concerned individual – no complaints on that score. But, like many folks who answer the phones for big corporations, they apparently have scripts they have to follow.

In my first few calls, we went through the scripts. We changed the line filter, we counted the number of telephone outlets here (four) and the number of devices connected to the (just the ADSL router and a hardwired telephone, we power reset the ADSL Router and restarted my computer, and we tried disconnecting the hardwired phone for an hour to see if the drops ceased. All of this failed and on November 24th, my case # was elevated for the first time to the ‘advanced group‘ who apparently deals with things the first level of folks cannot.

Since then, the pattern has, for the most part, been predictable. Once every day or every other day, I’ll call in to complain and I will always get a new person (they must have hundreds at the call center) and I’ll give them my case # which they will read through before we get started. This takes longer and longer as the notes increase with each call but, in fact, I like that they keep such conscientious records.

They will ask me to hold, or ask if they can call me back, and they will go off and talk to someone in the advanced group about what’s happening. They come back and tell me that the problem is in the physical equipment at the exchange and that they are ‘investigating it’ and while they are working on it, they cannot give me any estimate of when it will be fixed.

I’ve been given this explanation and promised at least three times that someone from the advanced group will give me a call – but no one ever has.

Other things I’ve learned or that have happened along the way (I recorded these things in my notes as we went along this torturous path together):

Nov 29th – Situation improved and I called in and they said that someone (the advanced group?) had made temporary changes to my ‘profile’ – whatever that is.

Dec 1st – Problem has returned. Apparently, the ‘profile’ change was indeed temporary.

Dec 2nd – They’ve made another change to my ‘profile’ but I see no apparently improvement. They’ve decided that sending a tech type here won’t help. Apparently, the problem is with their equipment at the exchange.

Dec 4th – This problem is apparently affecting multiple people. Notes in my case # show that the advanced team is working on my problem. Also told me that turn-around-time on anything to do with the advanced team is not less than 24 hours. I said I’d wait 48 hours before calling in again.

Dec 6th – Called again. The current comments from the advanced team, from when the fellow I was talking to went and talked to them, was that they think that perhaps my problem is related to the high speed of the service I am receiving and that perhaps they may have to slow the speed. That would be fine with me if it just stayed connected. Note, I was told in my very first call to Telecom that I am 1.5 km from the exchange which is, apparently, a reasonably short distance.

Dec 8th – since sometime yesterday afternoon, my connection has remained steady. over a 12 hour period I experienced drops less than 1% of the time (.32%). Using Skype through the link is still flaky, but I can live with that.

Dec 8th – about midday, I lost the ability to send E-mail out via two E-mail server systems I use in the U.S. I investigated and it seems that I’m being blocked from sending E-mail out over port 25 (standard way to ‘talk’ to an E-mail server) for all E-mail servers except Xtra’s at I called in and had a long and somewhat confused discussion with a fellow at the first level and nothing was resolved. He said he thinks they have a policy of doing this to prevent spam from originating on their network but that begged the question of why I’ve been up and running for three weeks and this has never happened before.

I got a new case # on this one since it is a different problem (Case # 130-55-983).

After we hung up, I Googled on ‘Telecom blocking 25‘ and immediately turned up several articles dating back to April saying that that this was going to be a new Telecom policy but that users with good cause could opt out of the block.

Dec 9th – When I got up this morning, the port 25 block had been lifted overnight and I was able to resume sending out E-mail via my preferred E-mail servers.

Dec 9th – I called in this morning and told the person I talked to that my connection was holding steady and that I could communicate again with my mail servers and that all seemed well. I was hopeful that we were at the end of this long road. I think they were doubtful because the notes on their end showed that nothing new had been done.

Dec 10th – Well, I was optimistic far too soon. Yesterday afternoon, the drops returned – same as before. Maybe even more frequently than before.

I do software development and last night, on the 9th, I needed to download several big software packages from Microsoft’s web site. The biggest one was 225 MB. It literally took me hours and before it was done, I’m sure I generated between one and two GB’s of traffic trying to download this stuff. I’d get a small part of the file and then I’d be dropped. I know how to reconnect on dropped downloads and most of the time I was able to resume the download after Telecom reconnected the link – but not always. On the large 225 MB file, I worked for nearly three hours before I downloaded it successfully. So, in the end, their inefficiency actually produced more throughput on the system than if I’d just downloaded everything once straight away.

Dec 10th – Called in to report that the drops have returned as of yesterday afternoon. Talked to employee # 805273. She went off and talked to her supervisor and tried to get to the advanced team but failed (it is Sunday). She said that this problem is definitely in the exchange and they are investigating. They are going to give my back my $49.95 for the month due to all of these problems. She said her Supervisor’s name is Mark Thomas. She also said that it is reasonable given the type of problem we’re dealing with that these drops should come and go as I’ve described.

I asked her for a specific case # identifying this problem (the one at their exchange) in their system but she had none.

I also asked her for an estimate of when it would be fixed and she had none.

She said someone would call me from the Advance Group. I told her I’d been promised that not less that three of four times and I’ve never received such a call. She said she’d note it.

Once again, I was happy with the way I was responded to when I called in in terms of politeness, concern, and good notes on their end but, in the end, it is always the same. “We know about it, we’re working on it (no time estimate) and we’re sorry“. And, today, they refunded my Go Large bill of $49.95 for the month in consideration for the problems I’ve had.

But, at the end of the day, I’d still rather have a good solid connection like I can get in most first world countries.

In the last hours or two, as I’ve been typing, my ping software tells me that my broadband link has been disconnected nearly 8% of the time. It turns on, it turns off. You wouldn’t think a problem like that would be hard for competent technical folks to find. One really has to wonder what’s going on behind the scenes at Telecom:

Have they over-sold the Go Large Broadband Program and they haven’t the equipment to support it?

Have they got a lot of high tech equipment and nobody on their staff that really knows how to fix it if it misbehaves?

Are they so overwhelmed with technical problems in general that my issue cannot seem to get to the top of the pile?

Something is very wrong. New Zealand needs fast, cheap and ubiquitous Internet to keep it in the running with other first world nations. Many nations have realized that the Internet is the grease that makes so many other things work well in a society. Important things like business and education, for example. Id’ say it would also reduce frustration.