SciBlogs

Archive May 2007

TELECOM CHANGES TACK ON MOBILE Peter Griffin May 30

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UPDATE: A more in-depth Herald piece looking at the implications of Telecom’s shift in mobile strategy and my cHerald comment piece here. The Sunday Star Times business editor Tim Hunter explains the mobile roaming revenue Telecom can expect to tap into when it has a foot in the GSM/UMTS camp.

Juha’s scoop gives some interesting details of Telecom’s decision to spend $300 – $400 million on a GSM/UMTS network, confirming rumours that Telecom has been looking to extricate itself from CDMA.

I blogged about it in detail my Herald blog early this morning. So far, no official confirmation of the leak from Telecom and its shares are not on a trading halt, which is unusual given a development that is so material to Telecom’s business has been revealed. There’ll be lots of angles to this story. For instance:
- What will it mean for the newly flush New Zealand Communications which is set to build a GSM network itself? Maybe it’s a good thing as it will open up GSM roaming options.
- What about TelstrsClear? Will it exit the 029 arrangement with Vodafone in favour of some wholesale deal with Telecom?
- What about the hybrid network model Juha talks of, where CDMA is kept for high-speed data. How will this work for customers? Will they need dual-mode handsets to talk and use data? Will
EV-DO be restructed to PC data cards?
- What will Telecom do with its Hutchison 3G partnership? How will it leverage H3G services over here?

A few comments via the Herald:

From Keith:
Interesting comments about Telecom going GSM. I have been a Telecom mobile customer since 1989. I take a bit of an exception to your comment about CDMA being a bad choice. I have found call clarity and connections generally to be better with 025/027. In the early days 025/027 was far superior. Admittedly that may have changed in more recent times. Equally, my reading of the mobile data situation was that the Telecom products have offered better speed. Perhaps the only bad part of the decision is that the rest of the world went with a different standard. Had they gone CDMA then Telecom’s choice would have looked inspired!

As for a better selection of handsets. So what! It may be important for geeks and fashionistas but the rest of us get by with the Telecom selection (currently I have a Treo 600). I also have a work 021, a very nice and expensive Nokia, which I like. As for the Motorola RAZR phones, my previous experience with Motorola phones and modems including cable modems is that they are hopelessly unreliable. This was confirmed very recently when the boss “upgraded” to a Motorola RAZR which managed to die just prior to his overseas trip. I wouldn’t touch Motorola gear, no matter how nice it looks. I’ve also managed to persuade my kids to avoid it as well.

Telecom didn’t really have much choice by the looks of it, but for most of us it comes down to price and service, not technology.

Of course, with number portability maybe none of it matters. Not that the networks are saying much about that. Where is it at?

From Mark:
Interesting story on Telecom NZ move to GSM. I left NZ in April 1996 and went to work in Vietnam, where GSM mobile phone connections outnumber landlines by a considerable amount. I quickly realised (as you do when you work outside NZ) that a good proportion of the rest of the world also used it, and on my first trip back six weeks later gave my 027 phone to my wife and have been a Vodafone customer ever since. Interestingly, at the same time a good friend of mine owned (and still does) a Telecom franchise in New Plymouth and had no qualms telling me that CDMA would take over the world and texting would never take off. I could never convince him at the time that I thought Telecoms was a poor choice and that the rest of the world was moving in a different direction. I now own a triband Smartphone and use it in the US, Europe, the Middle East and SE Asia, roaming all of the time on Vodafone. It even worked in Brazil!

From Olga:
Your article is interesting but to share another aspect with you, as it happens Vodafone are erecting a tower & base outside my house today. This is despite my cries to Auckland City and Vodafone to move over it over the road where there are no houses.

So possibly this explains their hard stance with me.
There are bigger more powerful reasons, e.g. Telecom using the same facilities? Who cares about the safety (traffic concerns as base box obscures road & frequencies of units etc) of people when theres more profit to be made. Maybe the next time we read the glowing reports in the business section of the papers, you can highlight that the real price is being paid by a handful of affected people sacrificed for the sake of profit. What do you think??

TELECOM CHANGES TACK ON MOBILE Peter Griffin May 30

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UPDATE: A more in-depth Herald piece looking at the implications of Telecom’s shift in mobile strategy and my cHerald comment piece here. The Sunday Star Times business editor Tim Hunter explains the mobile roaming revenue Telecom can expect to tap into when it has a foot in the GSM/UMTS camp.

Juha’s scoop gives some interesting details of Telecom’s decision to spend $300 – $400 million on a GSM/UMTS network, confirming rumours that Telecom has been looking to extricate itself from CDMA.

I blogged about it in detail my Herald blog early this morning. So far, no official confirmation of the leak from Telecom and its shares are not on a trading halt, which is unusual given a development that is so material to Telecom’s business has been revealed. There’ll be lots of angles to this story. For instance:
- What will it mean for the newly flush New Zealand Communications which is set to build a GSM network itself? Maybe it’s a good thing as it will open up GSM roaming options.
- What about TelstrsClear? Will it exit the 029 arrangement with Vodafone in favour of some wholesale deal with Telecom?
- What about the hybrid network model Juha talks of, where CDMA is kept for high-speed data. How will this work for customers? Will they need dual-mode handsets to talk and use data? Will
EV-DO be restructed to PC data cards?
- What will Telecom do with its Hutchison 3G partnership? How will it leverage H3G services over here?

A few comments via the Herald:

From Keith:
Interesting comments about Telecom going GSM. I have been a Telecom mobile customer since 1989. I take a bit of an exception to your comment about CDMA being a bad choice. I have found call clarity and connections generally to be better with 025/027. In the early days 025/027 was far superior. Admittedly that may have changed in more recent times. Equally, my reading of the mobile data situation was that the Telecom products have offered better speed. Perhaps the only bad part of the decision is that the rest of the world went with a different standard. Had they gone CDMA then Telecom’s choice would have looked inspired!

As for a better selection of handsets. So what! It may be important for geeks and fashionistas but the rest of us get by with the Telecom selection (currently I have a Treo 600). I also have a work 021, a very nice and expensive Nokia, which I like. As for the Motorola RAZR phones, my previous experience with Motorola phones and modems including cable modems is that they are hopelessly unreliable. This was confirmed very recently when the boss “upgraded” to a Motorola RAZR which managed to die just prior to his overseas trip. I wouldn’t touch Motorola gear, no matter how nice it looks. I’ve also managed to persuade my kids to avoid it as well.

Telecom didn’t really have much choice by the looks of it, but for most of us it comes down to price and service, not technology.

Of course, with number portability maybe none of it matters. Not that the networks are saying much about that. Where is it at?

From Mark:
Interesting story on Telecom NZ move to GSM. I left NZ in April 1996 and went to work in Vietnam, where GSM mobile phone connections outnumber landlines by a considerable amount. I quickly realised (as you do when you work outside NZ) that a good proportion of the rest of the world also used it, and on my first trip back six weeks later gave my 027 phone to my wife and have been a Vodafone customer ever since. Interestingly, at the same time a good friend of mine owned (and still does) a Telecom franchise in New Plymouth and had no qualms telling me that CDMA would take over the world and texting would never take off. I could never convince him at the time that I thought Telecoms was a poor choice and that the rest of the world was moving in a different direction. I now own a triband Smartphone and use it in the US, Europe, the Middle East and SE Asia, roaming all of the time on Vodafone. It even worked in Brazil!

From Olga:
Your article is interesting but to share another aspect with you, as it happens Vodafone are erecting a tower & base outside my house today. This is despite my cries to Auckland City and Vodafone to move over it over the road where there are no houses.

So possibly this explains their hard stance with me.
There are bigger more powerful reasons, e.g. Telecom using the same facilities? Who cares about the safety (traffic concerns as base box obscures road & frequencies of units etc) of people when theres more profit to be made. Maybe the next time we read the glowing reports in the business section of the papers, you can highlight that the real price is being paid by a handful of affected people sacrificed for the sake of profit. What do you think??

ZINWELL MOVES TO FIX FREEVIEW GLITCHES Peter Griffin May 30

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Here’s the deal: New Zealand rolls out digital TV, claiming that being years behind the rest of the world in doing so means we’ll do it better, learn from the mistakes of others.

So our Freeview consortium goes and accredits only two suppliers of satellite receivers, to the outrage of set-top box importers who want their own various boxes accredited. One of those “official” suppliers, Zinwell, then delivers dodgy, faulty set-top boxes to the New Zealand public. How exactly did boxes causing serious radio frequency interference get C-tick certified? Bizarre. This is Zinwell’s business, it sells set-top boxes around the world. What’s its quality control processes like if it can’t handle something that basic?

Next Electronics, which acts as the service agent for the Zinwell boxes, put the below press release out last night, the first official acknowledgement from it and Zinwell that there is an issue with the Freeview receivers:

Zinwell ZMX-7500 Freeview Digital Receiver

Since the launch of Freeview on 2nd May and the retail sale of a significant number of Zinwell set-top-boxes we have had a 4.0% warranty return rate.

In introducing any new broadcasting technology into a country minor interference and or interface problems can be experienced due to varying standards of TV and audio systems’ interconnections.

Prior to the launch of the service both Zinwell and Freeview tested many units over an extended period and did not find the faults which have subsequently come to light.

These minor manufacturing defects have been investigated and will all be rectified shortly.

We are pleased to say that the experience of most installers with the Zinwell unit has been positive and they have had no problems installing them.

A new shipment of the product has arrived in NZ and will be used to replace units for customers who are experiencing any faults. This will be done on a case-by-case by basis by NEXT Electronics.

The warranty process is as follows:

    1. Warranty card in each box
    2. 12 months warranty
    3. Total replacement
    4. Contact NEXT Electronics on 0800 GO NEXT (0800 466 398)

ZINWELL MOVES TO FIX FREEVIEW GLITCHES Peter Griffin May 30

No Comments

Here’s the deal: New Zealand rolls out digital TV, claiming that being years behind the rest of the world in doing so means we’ll do it better, learn from the mistakes of others.

So our Freeview consortium goes and accredits only two suppliers of satellite receivers, to the outrage of set-top box importers who want their own various boxes accredited. One of those “official” suppliers, Zinwell, then delivers dodgy, faulty set-top boxes to the New Zealand public. How exactly did boxes causing serious radio frequency interference get C-tick certified? Bizarre. This is Zinwell’s business, it sells set-top boxes around the world. What’s its quality control processes like if it can’t handle something that basic?

Next Electronics, which acts as the service agent for the Zinwell boxes, put the below press release out last night, the first official acknowledgement from it and Zinwell that there is an issue with the Freeview receivers:

Zinwell ZMX-7500 Freeview Digital Receiver

Since the launch of Freeview on 2nd May and the retail sale of a significant number of Zinwell set-top-boxes we have had a 4.0% warranty return rate.

In introducing any new broadcasting technology into a country minor interference and or interface problems can be experienced due to varying standards of TV and audio systems’ interconnections.

Prior to the launch of the service both Zinwell and Freeview tested many units over an extended period and did not find the faults which have subsequently come to light.

These minor manufacturing defects have been investigated and will all be rectified shortly.

We are pleased to say that the experience of most installers with the Zinwell unit has been positive and they have had no problems installing them.

A new shipment of the product has arrived in NZ and will be used to replace units for customers who are experiencing any faults. This will be done on a case-by-case by basis by NEXT Electronics.

The warranty process is as follows:

    1. Warranty card in each box
    2. 12 months warranty
    3. Total replacement
    4. Contact NEXT Electronics on 0800 GO NEXT (0800 466 398)

NO ANSWER TO THE “MAN DROUGHT” HERE Peter Griffin May 27

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TOMORROW’S WORLD

My Herald on Sunday column (not online yet but published below)

It’s taken six years to find out, but the zookeepers at Henry Doorly Zoo in Nebraska finally know how the female hammerhead shark that was in their care managed to get pregnant on her own.

Scientists revealed last week that DNA profiling showed the shark’s baby contained no paternal DNA. That means no dad and the first recorded example of a shark reproducing on its own.

(Graphic: Phil Welch Herald on Sunday)

Such an occurrence is known as parthenogenesis, virtually translated from Greek as ’virgin birth’ and is reasonably common in nature. A number of species are able to reproduce without fertilization by a male. Several species of insects, bony fish, reptiles like the whiptail gecko and the Komodo dragon can reproduce asexually.

It is virtually unknown in mammals however in 2004 a team at the Tokyo University of Agriculture, were able to produce a mouse that was the daughter of two females.

Kaguya the mouse, as she became known, was created from the genetic material of two egg cells — not a male sperm in sight. Scientists have baulked at the idea of applying the method to humans. There’s no guarantee it would work anyway as Kaguya was pretty much a fluke, the only success in hundreds of delicate attempts to reconstruct eggs. But the experiment has proven valuable in researching fertility techniques for normal conception in female humans.

While parthenogenesis helps several species reproduce, it doesn’t allow for as great genetic diversity as when a male impregnates a female.

Bees are a good example of this. While the queen bee is the only bee that gives birth, replenishing the entire population of the hive, female bees will often resort to laying their own eggs if their queen happens to die. This is a ’non-viable’ version of parthenogenesis, because the female worker bees can only produce male ’drone’ bees which in turn can only mate with the queen. With no queen in the hive, the population starts to die off.

It is for this reason that confirmation of parthenogenesis in the hammer head shark has been met with dismay from some quarters. For many scientists, it’s a sign that the world shark population is adapting to meet its own population shortage, one caused by over-fishing. Female sharks may be resorting to parthenogenesis when they can’t find a mate. If more of this is to happen, the genetic diversity of sharks will be diluted, lessening the species’ ability to adapt to environmental changes.

That’s a bad thing given the importance of sharks to the marine food chain. At least now we know what got the hammerhead pregnant and can start to look at whether the same process is happening among sharks in the wild. Such research is essential. It’s the only way we can really gauge the impact on procreation the world’s environmental changes are having.

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