Is NZ Telecom's local staffing a ruse?

Had Air New Zealand not beaten them to it, you might expect Telecom's latest TV ads to tell us how much the telco supports the All Blacks.

Had Air New Zealand not beaten them to it, you might expect Telecom's latest TV ads to tell us how much the telco supports the All Blacks.

Instead, we might see its Scottish-born CEO Dr Paul Reynolds rip off his kilt and dance a haka!

Patriotism may well have been branded as the last refuge of the scoundrel, but putting country first and a bit of populism looks set to be the best business move Telecom can make and is making.

After all, what is a former monopoly telco if it isn't seen as some part of a country's cultural furniture, even if it has to soften up on some former hard business decisions?

You might recall Telecom earlier this year denying reports it was looking to offshore up to 1500 jobs, through arrangements with Hewlett-Packard and other outsourcing partners.

Telecom has now cancelled plans which look suspiciously similar to those it denied ever existed.

Either way, keeping those jobs in New Zealand will be a very sound move.

Previously, outsourcing and doing things on the cheap, such as the XT network, had damaged the Telecom. This included using offshore call centres, whose Manila staff upset Telecom customers.

Even though New Zealanders tend to be more receptive to an open economy than Australians, I did warn that Telecom better not outsource those 1500 jobs if it wanted to work on the government's broadband projects, especially as it might need those staff to be able to do the work.

At the time Telecom was in enough strife upsetting all and sundry with its XT disaster. Telecom then had so many fences to mend.

Here we are months later and as we await the belated decision from Crown Fibre Holdings, the government entity that will award the tenders, it seems like Telecom looks set to gain some work on the Ultra-Fast Broadband initiative and maybe also on Rural Broadband.

In recent weeks, we have seen Telecom try and show what a good little Kiwi it is.

Telecom has just slashed its rates for global roaming, particularly for those visiting Australia, something people regularly moan about.

It has also made a joint bid with Vodafone for rural broadband work, showing it can partner with an arch-rival, so working with other partners like power companies on broadband should be child's play.

Such actions to me look look like a telco buttering up the government for some work, as well as the nation, in improving its image. There could well be an outcry if such a Kiwi "icon" doesn't get some of the broadband pie from our largely poll-driven populist and popular government.

As the broadband announcement gets ever later — though currently just two weeks behind schedule — this could well be to ensure there is some work for Telecom New Zealand.

I am sure Telecom New Zealand will pick up some broadband work, and it would seem odd if the country's biggest company, after dairy giant Fonterra, was so cruelly kept out in the cold.

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