Writings on technology and society from Wellington, New Zealand

Monday, August 10, 2009

iPhone in XT-land

As I said on the radio last week, I recently changed my iPhone from Vodafone service to Telecom’s XT network.

I did it primarily because Vodafone’s coverage at my house in Wellington was so poor. Every time the mobile rang I would have to run upstairs with it and get out onto the deck to hear the caller. Vodafone say they are going to do some more “infill” of their urban Wellington coverage next year; I can’t wait that long.

So, when Telecom came up with its $600 iPhone offer I paid attention. The offer – which expires at the end of this month – is that, if you have an iPhone 3G or 3GS that you have bought from Vodafone NZ or the Apple website in NZ, you can take it onto a specific XT plan and get a $600 sweetener from Telecom, which in most cases would exceed the cost of breaking whatever plan you are on with Vodafone. And, even with 1G of data added to the Telecom plan, it’s cheaper than the $130 iPhone plan I used to be on.

The process of changing was easy. I took my phone and a recent bill into the Telecom shop and it took about ten minutes. The phone changed over a few hours later. Same number, same phone, just a new network. To get the data working I had to upload the XT carrier pack to the phone. This is slightly fiddly but well-documented at iPhonewzealand.

My iPhone performs very well on the new network. That’s what I was after and I haven’t been disappointed so far. I’m getting four or five bars of signal everywhere I go in Wellington, which often wasn’t the case on Vodafone. That’s partly down to the frequency choice that Telecom has made – the iPhone uses 2100 and 850Mhz, which is what the XT network uses. XT is mostly 850 which penetrates buildings better. By contrast, Vodafone is mostly 2100 in urban areas, and elsewhere its 900 which the iPhone can’t use at all, so you drop to 2G as soon as you leave a city.

Finally, all my iPhone goodies just work, including mirabile dictu tethering. That means using the phone as a modem for my laptop. It’s massively useful, and gives me coverage even inside large buildings, which my old Vodafone Connect card never managed. I’ll be canceling the plan on that card soon.

All in all – this is very impressive. I get a faster, more useful phone, a reduced monthly bill, and some cash in hand. What’s not to like?

posted by colin at 7:30 am  


  1. What’s not to like? Telecom are evil, and have been shafting me for years, so it would be galling to give them my business. But Vodafone aren’t especially non-evil so it’s pretty hard to have a phone and stick to those sort of principles! :-)

    BTW does this mean you can get an iPhone for the price (or less) of an iPod Touch by buying from Voda with no plan and switching? As someone who’s just bought a Touch I’m a little jealous, but I can’t afford the monthly fees. And I get to move my low-use txt machine to 2degrees when my Voda credit runs out…

    Comment by David — 11 August 2009 @ 1:12 pm

  2. David

    The whole debate shows the power of competition to bring about good outcomes for consumers. For quite a while Voda has been the only game in town for a decent mobile network. That’s changed, and it’s changed because so many of Telecom’s customers had voted with their feet.

    As for the costs of getting one from Voda and switching straight away – you’d have to run the numbers to see what it will cost and check with Voda that you can switch in the first couple of weeks. You need to get switched by 31 August to get the sweetener from Telecom.

    Finally – none of this is advice to pursue any particualr course. Im just relating my experience.



    Comment by colin — 17 August 2009 @ 7:14 pm

  3. Colin, we too have changed from Vodafone to Telecom’s XT with an I Phone. I notice you can use your I phone for data. We have been unable to master this. Any advice? Telecom’s shop unable to help us..? Has become quite frustrating, as we have brought a data stick to enable data, which is not terribly cost effective given we have data on our account.. Any advice would be appreciated.

    Comment by Karen Moore — 16 March 2010 @ 12:28 pm

  4. Karen

    The function you want is called tethering. I have it working beautifully, without having to resort to “jailbreaking” or “pwning” the phone. Here’s how. By the way, I wrote an article about this last year.

    Before starting to set up tethering on XT, you need to do two things:

    1) Make sure you are on the latest iPhone OS which is 3.1.3. You can check which version your phone is on in Settings | General. If you are on an older version, plug the phone into iTunes and update it to the latest OS. Tethering won’t work on XT with most older copies of the iPhone OS.

    2) Make sure you are using the XT carrier bundle. Ignore the remark on the website that says this is optional – it’s essential for tethering. If you have already loaded the bundle you will need to re-apply it if you update your phone OS as I describe above.

    Now you are ready to set up tethering. It’s very easy. This article explains how to do it for a Mac. There are other articles on the Net that explain it for various flavours of Windows.

    I hope this works for you. I find iPhone tethering an absolute boon. I dropped my 3G data card subscription last year as a result.



    Comment by colin — 16 March 2010 @ 3:39 pm

  5. Colin – you are a dream person! Worked – once I got past extracting the file correctly. Brilliant. Thanks so much for your help!

    Comment by Karen Moore — 16 March 2010 @ 4:32 pm

  6. You’re very welcome!


    Comment by colin — 16 March 2010 @ 4:42 pm

  7. Colin, wondering if you know if there is an issue with upgrading i phone software, and loosing tethering?
    We have just upgraded to version 4.0, and appear to have lost tethering?
    any ideas?

    Comment by Karen Moore — 5 July 2010 @ 6:35 pm

  8. Colin – it’s ok – I found it!
    ALso lost email settings, so they were all there.
    cheers Karen

    Comment by Karen Moore — 5 July 2010 @ 7:09 pm

  9. That’s good, Karen. I upgraded my iPhone 3G to iOS4 and I kept tethering. Everything works except the Voicemail button. I can live with that.

    What I can’t live with is the speed of the phone now. It sometimes takes upwards of a minute to enter the messaging app, and other parts of the phone are much slower than they were. I’m hoping Apple will push an update to solve this, but if they don’t soon I will go back to 3.1.3 using these instructions:

    Then I’ll have to reapply the old 3.1.3 XT carrier pack at:

    In the meantime I haven’t reorganised my apps into folders, as iOS4 lets you, because I don’t want to grow dependent on the upgrade.


    Comment by colin — 6 July 2010 @ 9:05 am

  10. Interesting – we are not having problem with messaging loading slowly.. The joys of upgrades!

    Comment by Karen Moore — 6 July 2010 @ 9:12 am

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