Vodafone's rugby fail a dangerous slip

After scoring a Rugby World Cup own goal, Vodafone New Zealand must surely raise its game.

After scoring a Rugby World Cup own goal, Vodafone New Zealand must surely raise its game.

The global telco giant was caught napping on Friday evening, with many users complaining that the carrier's Auckland network could not cope.

Telecom on the other hand seems to have got away relatively unscathed, perhaps not wanting to repeat the humiliation it suffered with the launch of its XT network a while back.

Of course, since Vodafone is a global provider, unlike Telecom NZ, many of the 95,000 rugby fans that have flooded New Zealand would be Vodafone users. Therefore, it seems likely that it would face a far greater increase in demand than Telecom New Zealand would have.

However, Vodafone should have expected this and prepared for it accordingly. Now it will have to improve its performance, which it admitted recently when it said it would make "additional tweaks" to its cup network.

As I said recently, the Rugby World Cup is not just a mere sports tournament, but a chance for New Zealand to sell itself to the world, especially as the eyes of the world are upon it.

New Zealand has to show it is a world-class destination for business, technology and tourism. Our reputation and credibility depends on a trouble-free tournament, whoever wins.

Indeed, events are being organised to sell the country for technology and business, with a technology showcase and a technology jobs fair among them.

Perhaps even more might be at stake if the telcos let the side down.

Already we have seen the government take control of the Auckland waterfront after complaints that "party central" wasn't big enough for the excessive numbers that turned up.

Now, I'm not suggesting the National-led government would nationalise the telcos for any failures with World Cup mobile phone coverage, but the politicians could make life hard for them afterwards.

This would especially be true from an unpopular opposition Labour Party, which already hates Telecom New Zealand and is desperate for a populist bandwagon to jump upon.

Thus, Telecom and, especially, Vodafone, must both raise their game to secure their futures. As I have said before, in New Zealand the Rugby World Cup is more than just a mere game!


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