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Heads should roll at Telecom NZ

Telecom's XT mobile network has been renamed Monica. She goes down without warning and screws you.
Written by Darren Greenwood, Contributor on

Telecom's XT mobile network has been renamed Monica. She goes down without warning and screws you.

We are on day three and the company still cannot say when the XT network will be fully operational.

We might forgive teething troubles for a new network, but XT was launched last May and should be bedded in by now. But we saw a major outage in December, a few minor outages and now another big one that has yet to be fully repaired.

Telecom today fronted up its CEO of services arm Gen-i, Chris Quin, in a live webcast featuring media and customers. But many questions remain unanswered, even though they were sent by journalists or posted online.

Telecom NZ is still unsure of the exact cause of the problem, other than to say it is hardware this time, when software was to blame before.

I think it raises some questions:

  • Was XT done on the cheap, the typical New Zealand way?
  • Were there enough Radio Network Centres? Two cannot be enough as when one fails, half the country goes down.
  • Was Alcatel-Lucent a better pick of supplier than Huawei, which has so far proved reliable with 2degrees?
  • Does Telecom have enough engineers and of sufficient quality? There has been anger over recent outsourcing of such services.
  • And is XT so "bleeding edge" with its technology that, in some respects, New Zealand is something of a guinea pig?

Certainly, since Telecom talks of XT as being "world class", the shambles has been world class too, making the headlines abroad.

Certainly, many mistakes have been made by many people this time. And any look at "root causes" of problems should also look at some of the purchasing decisions and the resourcing decisions by whatever global consultants are brought in to investigate.

Ultimately, heads should roll, especially if it happens again. I for one cannot think of another network that has failed like this on such a huge scale.

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