Hard News by Russell Brown


One of the more notable features of the All Black season so far has been the maturing of Ali Williams. Graham Henry promised in an interview before the first squad was selected that the big lock would be "fit" and "ready" for the Lions series - and, truly, he was. In a roundabout way, I found out this week why.

Turns out Henry asked former All Black captain and manager Brian Lochore to work with Williams to prepare him for the Lions series. In the course of this successful assignment, Lochore said words to this effect to the Aucklander:

"If I see you running around the place with your head in the air looking for an easy try, I'll hit you over the head with this fscking four-by-two."

Heh. If only all motivational speeches were so effective.

Of course, this weekend is where we get to find out whether the All Blacks are in fact onto something really good, or whether the Lions were just much worse than anyone thought.

Public Address reader Kimchi has tracked down the source for NZVotes.org's general policy summary for the Green Party, whose words ("Human needs can only be met without damage to other species that share the earth") don't appear in the party charter cited as the source. It's actually a 1999 document called Thinking Beyond Tomorrow, which opens: "Thinking Beyond Tomorrow shows how New Zealand could enter the twenty-first century on track for a sustainable future. It is the Green Party's vision of a country where human needs are met without damage to the other species that share the earth with us." Nice to clear that up. Sort of.

Telecom's Nick Brown got in touch to clarify the issue of the new DSL account plans, which apply only to business, rather than residential, customers. The old plans haven't actually been withdrawn, they're just not advertised and you have to know to ask for them. I had a few other questions:

NB: When we launched three new business plans last month we decided to put emphasis on a simplified plan line up. The three new business plans offer businesses great value. They provide speeds up 2 Mbps and have significantly reduced overage charges – they also offer flat rate options that do not incur overage charges. They do have a slower upstream speed than the existing fullspeed plans,but are designed to meet the majority of business customers’ needs - which is to download a significant more amount of data than they upload.

RB: Why maintain services that you don't tell people about?

We are trying to simplify the product offering to meet the mass market needs. We have 14 business plans available and to promote these all above the line would be too confusing.

And why the slower upstream speeds? Isn't that a degradation of service?

Most businesses download more than they upload and we reflect this in the plan line-up. These asymmetric specifications allow better network utilisation that enables better prices to customers. It is not a degradation of service, as these are new plans delivering more affordable broadband to business customers who shift more data – ie with monthly data allowances of 3, 10 and 15 Gigabytes priced from $119 to $299.

Do the slower upstream speeds also apply to the consumer plans?

All our consumer plans are up to 128Kbps upstream ... again this reflects customer usage patters.

What's the functional difference between the consumer and business plans? Why the huge disparity in price?

Most products and services are priced different in the business and consumer markets, in telecommunications and in other areas, reflecting usage, demand and other factors. With broadband, business customers also avoid local call charges that they would pay when using dialup, residential customers do not have this incentive.

Can you cite actual evidence that business users don't care about upstream Speeds? I've seen a great many complaints from business this year with respect to upstream speeds.

Some businesses certainly care about upstream speeds, but our traffic profiles show that majority of customers download a lot more than they upload (a ratio of approximately 70/30). We know some customers do require faster upstream speeds and that is why we have kept the full speed plans for those that require them, and have other managed services that provide symmetrical specifications.

Why is there such a vast disparity between what iinet can offer in Australia, especially on price ($70 vs $2400) and what its sister company Ihug can offer in NZ? Is it regulation? A more competitive market?

There is a vast range of pricing worldwide based on network economics, varying geographies, demand-side elasticities.

Xtra’s new business broadband plans include the 10 gigabyte plan that offers up to 1Mbps downstream starting at NZ$149.95. I had a quick look at the iinet site and their business plan that offers up to 1.5 Mbps and 10GB of peak time data is Australian $79.95 - ie NZ$89.00

Does Telecom envisage substantial changes to DSL plans - on price, speed or data limits - this year?

We are always reviewing offers, and we continuously monitor how customers’ use of broadband is changing.

Hmmm. Here's the iiNet page for business broadband. If you take their phone service, you get 12Mbit/s down and 1Mbit/s up with a 20GB cap for a total monthly cost of $A111. Here's Telecom's page of business DSL plans, offering 2Mbit/s down and a mighty 128Kbit/s up with a cap of 15GB for $299. They're not even on the same planet.

Looks like it's still all on in Wanganui. The mayor's opponents now have a blog: Laws Watch, which is maintained by "an evil cabal of single-issue fruitcakes determined to harass the greatest Leader Wanganui has ever had." They've quoted a Hard News from 1996. Crikey.

Here's the Trevor Mallard press statement that Keith is fuming about today. Setting aside for a moment the minister's blowhard tone (actually, setting aside the minister's blowhard tone permanently would be a good idea) it does illustrate an interesting point about the limits on the extent to which economists can model and predict human behaviour. They're effectively obliged to assume the worst about human nature; it doesn't always happen.

And here's the Wiki on Canada's new Governor General, Michaëlle Jean. Journalist. Immigrant. Black. Intellectual. Total babe.

Juan Cole's Fisking the War on Terror is one to cut out and keep. Bring it out when somebody asks you where terrorists come from.

Some video: The Daily Show on the death of King Fahd and American oil-industry pork, and on the Bolton appointment.

And with that, I'm off to the Food Show …