I have been full of praise for Telecom since their launch of the XT network in mid-2009. They met consumer demand head on with extremely competitive mobile data pricing, and in my opinion this has been the main factor in New Zealand’s recent explosion of mobile-internet use.
Calling charges are nothing to rave about, especially now that 2degrees is a competitor, but their charges are in line with Vodafone’s. While at first they did seem to be heading the wrong way with text messaging plans, they recently did a triple backflip and have offered up New Zealand’s best text messaging plan.
Yet there’s really not much point in paying for text messaging, no matter how inexpensive it is, if you are unable to send text messages. This has been the case in a serious outage on the 27th of January, which spurred consumer backlash and intense media attention. And, more recently (last night and today, to be precise – the 15th and 16th of Feb) another outage has occurred, which Telecom says effected solely text messaging service (and calling service in a few instances).
The latter of these outages has affected me significantly. I have been without text messaging service for a total of 30 hours now, and have had no news about when my service will be restored. Telecom says that “all problems have been resolved”. This is clearly not the case, as at 2pm at least a dozen individuals in my area said they were unable to receive text messages.
Following the XT network’s serious outage on 27th of January, CEO Paul Reynolds announced a $5million goodwill gesture and said that an independent review of the XT network would be carried out.
To make it all worse, Telecom has been advising customers who are still experiencing problems to first try a “hard reset” of their mobile (removing the battery pack and SIM card), and if that fails to call *123 and talk to a “specialised support team”. After almost 30minutes on hold to their specialised” support team”, my connection was completely cut. I am unsure whether my call was dropped due to another technical issue (which would not surprise me in the slightest), or Telecom were receiving too many calls and decided to cut a few.
Telecom’s explanation for the recently text messaging outage is that they experienced “irregular messaging patterns”. Now excuse my cynicism here, but after 30 hours without being able to receive texts I think I am allowed to make a few inferences, with however little evidence I have.
What exactly, does Telecom mean by “irregular messaging patterns”? Did everyone in the country happen to send a text at the exact same second? Did a few jokers get together and decide to see how many texts they could send at once? Or, is Telecom trying to hint at it somehow being nothing to do with them and rather consumers who caused the problem? Unless Telecom provides more of an explanation on this, I can only guess.
It would be a great pity to see Telecom XT fail completely, but that’s the way it’s heading – whether through huge loss of customers or a country-wide outage, we will have to wait and see.