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Innovation

It's not still good: how change kills tech

I quite enjoy visiting car boot sales, and I often smile when I see boxes of old fashioned VHS video tapes being cleared off at 50 cents or a dollar.
Written by Darren Greenwood, Contributor on

I quite enjoy visiting car boot sales, and I often smile when I see boxes of old fashioned VHS video tapes being cleared off at 50 cents or a dollar.

It's not just a matter of recalling those favourite films from the 1980s and 1990s, but you also get a reminder that technology always changes.

And that's before we even consider the old battle between VHS, Betamax and 2000.

Last week, Telecom New Zealand announced that next July it will be turning off its CDMA cellular network.

It's going to be a massive task, especially as the company has around one million customers on the old CDMA network, and a similar number on the newer XT network.

Telecom says that many users on CDMA are inactive but it looks like it will be busy with the 2012 switchover. Vodafone and 2 Degrees will be hoping to gain some of these customers, but Telecom is offering various deals, including zero costs upfront if you go on a plan.

Some have criticised Telecom for making the wrong technical choice and wasting millions on CDMA during the time that former head Theresa Gattung ran the company, but the truth is that people always have to think about technological change when they make a purchase.

There is no point in buying anything, however cheap, if it is to become obsolete and unusable in a short period of time. This is as true for your cheap mobile phone as it is for a multi-million dollar project implementation.

Thankfully, Telecom NZ has given us a year's notice, and it did warn that CDMA was for the chop when it launched its XT network in 2009.

While people have had plenty of time to prepare for the change, it still means that there will be a million handsets around New Zealand that will suddenly become redundant. I wonder what will happen to them, and I can only hope that there might be some way of recycling.

Of course, mobile telephony is not the only other area of change. There is television, too.

We have adverts on TV and in the papers about the impending digital switchover.

So, when you next visit a car boot sale, think twice before you buy that gadget.

Editorial standards

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