FutureFive NZ - The Techday Weekender - Feb 11th 2012

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The Techday Weekender - Feb 11th 2012

Challenger network 2degrees continued to hack at the shins of giants Telecom and Vodafone this week, announcing on Thursday that it has grown its customer base by almost 50% in just under a year.

875,656 people are now on 2degrees, the telco says, compared with 580,111 at its previous update last March. 275,000 have been poached directly from other networks, ‘porting’ their numbers to get on board with the newcomer.

The news got worse for one of the incumbents the following day, as figures from Vodafone’s parent company Vodafone PLC showed the New Zealand operation has lost a further 14,000 customers on top of the 50,000 lost in the previous two quarters. As of December 31, Vodafone NZ had 2,420,000 users, compared with 2,484,000 nine months previously.

As for Telecom, the telco is thought to have just over 2 million customers, although it will be presenting further opportunities for 2degrees to make inroads later in the year as it builds towards the shut-down of its CDMA network this July.

Of course, if all these numbers are accurate it adds up to well over 5 million cellphones, which in a country with a population of around 4.5 million is quite a lot. Sure, plenty of people have more than one, but plenty more don’t have one at all.

At any rate, it seems fair to say fledgling 2degrees network is fledgling no more.

In other telecommunications news, TelstraClear announced its half-yearly results this week, suffering a drop in revenue but managing to stay in the black by cutting expenses as well. In light of expenditure costs related to the Christchurch earthquake it’s not a bad effort, and we’re pleased to see a good result for a company that’s shown willingness to try new things in an effort to give customers a better deal.

Speaking of good results, telco equipment supplier Huawei won its second contract to supply fibre to a UFB builder this week, adding a deal with Christchurch builder Enable Services to the agreement with central North Island builder Ultrafast Fibre announced last year. Of course, the big fish, Chorus, is still yet to choose, but the China-based supplier will feel good going in with two already under its belt.

And in a final piece of telecommunications news, Hawke’s Bay ISP Airnet has become the first telco to sign a retail agreement with Chorus, attributing the deal to a recapitalisation that has seen the company become 100% owned by local investors and staff. Airnet CEO Hamish White says the new telecommunications landscape being created by the UFB project and the demerger of Chorus from Telecom creates the perfect opportunity for local ISPs to connect users outside of main centres.

In international news, Facebook was this week criticised by an investor group ahead of its historic IPO for not having any women on its board of directors. The head of the group, Anne Sheehan, wrote a letter to Mark Zuckerberg informing him that companies with diverse boards perform far better than those with homogenous boards. We at Techday figure the type of person who can tell the head of a company that could be worth as much as US$100 billion how he could be doing his job better is definitely the type of person we’d like to have running any company we’d invested in.

Finally, in slightly weird news the FBI has released a file it compiled in 1991 investigating the character of one Steven P Jobs. It turns out Jobs was considered for a role within the Bush administration during his hiatus from Apple, but the authorities had to perform background checks to make sure they weren’t hiring some hippie. There’s nothing in the file we didn’t already know – a history of drug use, a confrontational personality, family issues – we’re just fascinated with the mental image of Jobs presenting press conferences about tax hikes and the Gulf War.

We’ll see you Monday.

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