Telecom proves honesty is always best

After being New Zealand's most hated telco, the many failures of Telecom NZ's mobile network XT seem to have bought it a new beginning.
Written by Darren Greenwood, Contributor

After being New Zealand's most hated telco, the many failures of Telecom NZ's mobile network XT seem to have bought it a new beginning.

Naturally, there were howls of public anguish when the network kept going down, but even Telecom's greatest critics admit the company is doing its utmost to make amends.

In the past few months, we have seen an openness from the company that it wasn't noted for before. How much can be down to its Scotsman CEO Paul Reynolds, we can only imagine, but he certainly contrasts favourably with a more secretive predecessor Theresa Gattung.

Computerworld this week features a book review on Gattung's book, Bird on a Wire. It notes many glaring omissions from Gattung, such as the failure of the Ferrit online auction site.

There were many other technological developments and decisions, relations with government, dealings with other businesses and so on which were left out, so Gattung's book does not give the "inside story" it might claim.

Meanwhile, Reynolds and the company have been upfront with all the issues and dramas they have faced over XT.

They have also reported the tough times they are having with government, which has helped gain some sympathy.

Such openness culminated in the release of summary findings of the Analysys Mason report into the XT failures on Friday, which mentions things many a company might have preferred kept hidden, such as findings that Telecom launched XT before it was ready and that the operational management was "immature".

And rather than just a few selected tidbits, there are five pages of "Recommendations and Findings" that gave reporters plenty of meaty copy.

The Telecom Users Association of New Zealand also notes how such openness has been vital in restoring consumer confidence in the embattled telco and XT.

Executive director Ernie Newman said:

It's to Telecom's credit that they have accepted responsibility and communicated liberally. Telecom are not the first company in the technology industry to have launched a product too early, and it is unlikely that they will be the last. The important thing is that they have accepted that mistakes were made, and taken all the necessary remedial action.

The open way in which they have communicated to large users and the general public has helped retain public confidence in the network, as evidenced by a continued significant growth in customer numbers even while there were still questions about reliability.

While there can never be absolute guarantees with complex technologies, it certainly appears that Telecom and Alcatel-Lucent have done everything necessary to remedy the situation.

When Dr Reynolds finally leaves Telecom and writes his memoirs, I am sure he will give a more honest and open account than what we saw from Gattung. And I am also sure that, whatever is in them, we will all look back at Reynolds in a far more positive light than we will at Gattung.

As the old saying goes, honesty is the best policy.

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