I went yesterday to the media event which Telecom set up to reveal more about its XT network.
The event was held in the Westin Hotel in Auckland. Paul Reynolds, the Telecom CE, and Alan Goudie, Head of Retail, sat behind a coffee table and spoke reasonably informally to 30-40 media and technology types sitting on brightly coloured cubes. Telecom staffers in branded t-shirts hovered around the edges of the room, ready to show of their new wares. A couple of TV cameras were set up among the audience.
Reynolds and Goudie were slick – they knew what they were talking about and how much information they were prepared to release. At one stage they showed two upcoming Telecom ads – both with Richard Hammond, one featuring NZ stuntwoman Zoë Bell and the other a jetsprint driver. There were questions afterwards.
The main points from the event were:
Telecom believes its XT network is technically superior to Voda’s. They claim better coverage and much faster speeds. Most cell sites have fibre backhaul so there are no bottlenecks. A lot of emphasis was placed on this – it’s clearly a major selling point for Telecom. We were encouraged to test this for ourselves.
Rates and plans have been simplified down from 60 plans to 14. All plans have ‘one rate’ – the same price regardless of time of day and network called. Billing is per second after the first minute. Families and small businesses can aggregate up to ten handsets and numbers onto a single plan so they can get the best rates. Data prices weren’t released – and, let’s face it, the network is being sold on its ability to deliver fast data – but questioning elicited ‘from a dollar a day’. Data will be extra to voice and you get to select it on top of your calling plan.
There have been some significant changes to online content:
– Telecom’s mobile home page has had a lot of work so it now loads fast on a mobile device.
– Telecom has done an exclusive deal with Yahoo Onesearch to provide search for their mobile customers.
– Telecom will shortly have a larger online music store than Voda.
– Direct access to social networking sites has been enabled. There’s an exclusive deal with Bebo and even a Bebo phone. Presumably you need a data plan to take advantage of this.
They have a range of mobiles (of course!). To forestall questions, Reynolds front-footed that they don’t have the iPhone, although they are in negotiations for the next iPhone. Neither did they announce an Android phone. They do have a Blackberry, a Palm, several Nokias and some Sonys. They also have a couple of USB stick data devices.
In reponse to a question, Paul Reynolds said that all handsets will be unlocked. ‘We have no intention of locking them”.
I left the session with a Nokia 6120c and an XT sim card for evaluation. I’ll test them for the month Telecom are giving me free, then they’ll will go back.
Curiously, on the way out of the room, attendees walked through an honour guard of young women dressed in white crash helmets and white skintight lycra body suits. They were holding their arms in front of their them in an X shape. I have no idea what the point of that was.
I’ve some comments on the whole network and what I think is done right, and what is done wrong, but I’ll save them for a later post.