Archive for December, 2006

Where’s ALTO? Irish Telecoms Review 2006 Part 3

Wednesday, December 27th, 2006

Where is ALTO? ALTO is the Alternative Telcos lobby group for Ireland. It represents many of the telcos who are not eircom or the mobile companies. The 2006 year in telecoms seemed to be quite bad for the ALTO members especially Smart telecom. Smart almost went bust and to stop total bust they cut off all their voice-customers after owing eircom and many others a significant amount of money. Most of those in the telecoms area knew well that Smart were on death’s door for a long while and so it was like a private slow-motion car crash. As a result of the Smart fallout and the total lack of concern about their voice customers, many who had a little faith in non-eircom telcos had their faith shook even more.

It was also bad for any new entrants to the market. Would consumers trust them and as importantly, would investors part with cash for them? The reasons for the Smart demise might be covered in another long telecoms rant but blame should be given to a very arrogant and short-sighted Smart telecom, an incompetent regulator and an aggressive eircom.

So, to get to the point. What were ALTO doing for the year? IrelandOffline released 16 press releases, which wasn’t a lot for us in fairness, it was 22 the year before. This is ALTO’s news section. Not much there. Anyone hear anyone from ALTO on the radio this year? See them in the papers? Few and far between. I think IrelandOffline averaged at least one media appearance a week without really trying. I think I personally did about 20-30 radio interviews this year too. As a fee collecting and money generating lobby group, the public profile of ALTO was terrible in 2006.

Now, the public profile is one small part and I know that ALTO are working very hard in the background on behalf of industry but to get the media and the public behind you and with it political pressure, it is my view that you need to engage the public. It’s a bit bloody much when it is me giving out the contact details for ALTO to journalists because they’re all but forgotten. “Oh are they still around?” one journo said to me! Now I don’t know the exact remit of ALTO and maybe 99% of the time they are meant to be working on the tedious negotiations between ComReg and industry so maybe they are not meant to be engaging the public but there does seem to be a need for an industry group to be in the public view too.

I could be wrong too but they seem like they are the excuse the bottom feeders I mentioned yesterday are using for inaction. “Sure ALTO should be doing that”. How about doing it yourselves and ALTO also doing it.

Here’s a very good example about the lack of ALTO presence and pressure: Each month ComReg, the telecoms poodle release a half-arsed report about Local Loop Unbundling and each month it is later and later in the month before it is released. Generally the report talks about the great progress of the LLU negotiations, which for those that read my telecoms rants know, ComReg are not to be trusted for reports or statements which say everything is fine. BT walked from the LLU talks earlier in the year and ComReg got a little irked. (It is also known that Minister Dempsey went apeshit over what BT did and gave out stink that they went public on it. There’s concern for the consumers, eh Minister? )

Anyways, after the walk-out, things started moving again and everyone went back to the tables and progress reports started to be released. Each month a report with the surrounding spin is sent out and each month there is silence from ALTO. I think the only ones to publicly comment have been Magnet. This months report is one of the most damning, not that the public would know about it. We press released about it but nobody else did. Should a consumer lobby group really be caring about a wholesale technology?

The report says that 50% of all LLU orders sent to eircom are being rejected by them for various reasons, that they will NOT create an automated ordering system for LLU meaning no mass migrations of userbases from bitstream to generally cheaper and faster LLU products. (This is what TalkTalk in the UK did) and eircom also said if they do decide that there is a need for an automated ordering system it will take them 12 months to create it.

Effectively it means that LLU has been stalled for yet another year at the very least. So where’s the industry reaction? Where’s ALTO? Shouldn’t the public have a right to know that 2007 is another year of them being told they can’t get decent choice in broadband? I guess the industry is far too comfortable with what they’re doing.

So I think I’ll offer a reward. Anyone that spots ALTO will win a prize. Come on and do your job ALTO, it’d be nice to not be the sole voice out there. Right now it seems IrelandOffline are filling a vacuum that was left by someone.

Irish Discussion Forums – Got a list?

Wednesday, December 27th, 2006

I’m gone through DMOZ and I can’t find a comprehensive list of Irish Discussion forums. I looked at and it says there are 38 discussion forums from Ireland in their database but I can’t find an actual list. Anyone got a list or shall I start one and people can add to them? I thought there’d be one by now. I’m sure James wouldn’t mind such a list for the OPML directory. 🙂

Fluffy Links – December 27th 2006

Wednesday, December 27th, 2006

Some poor chappies (like me) are working today. So here’s some fluff:

Nice story from the Sunday Times on the lack of engagement in the Dail by some of our TDs. Love some of the excuses.

Nothing left to read as everyone is logging off, says Donncha. Nice quote and good questions:

A good blog, like a good book, is something you can get lost in and forget yourself in. It tickles your brain cells and gets you thinking. What blogs do you put off reading until you have quality time to really enjoy them? What are the blogs you know you can’t read by skimming over them?

This would be one of the read when less hectic posts I’d read. This is another.

A good example of reverse parking. Maith an pilot.

To sleep perchance to dream.

The Dreaming (arguably better known as ‘The Dreamtime’) is more than just the story of how the world was created as told by Aboriginal Australians. It is also the basis for their way of life and death, their source of power in life and it tells of the life and influence of their ancestors on their culture.

This is a real gravestone. The ex-wife and mistress got the final say about this guy.

The kids are alright
. Seems the web and text messaging are making the kids more literate? Perhaps in some countries where literacy was suffering.

More Wii on Wii action. Using the Wii to stream movies and music using Orb.

Also control your smarthome with a Wii:

Is YouTube blocking Wii Opera browser access?

Eur24.99 hub/wireless DSL router in PC World

Tuesday, December 26th, 2006

Thanks to Spongebob – the bargain hunter and tech extraordinaire on, is a great find of a €24.99 hub and wireless router. It’s for the eircom 1mb broadband service but in actuality will work with any of the resellers, once you change the username and pass to be your own (obviously) and even with a little reconfiguring you can use them on Smart and Magnet. PC World does not ask you to sign-up for eircom whereas Harvey Normans and others might. There are still stacks of them in PC World. It is now replacing a crappy old and noisy hub in my house. It also means I can shut down the main computer that was connecting to the usb modem and not have anyone else in the house complaining anymore. Might save a little bit of energy too. More instructions on configuring it.

Scum sucking bottom feeders – Irish Telecoms Review 2006 Part 2

Tuesday, December 26th, 2006

With the exception of groups like Irish Broadband, Clearwire, Digiweb and some of the regional providers, most of the consumer telecoms companies in this fair land resell eircom products. BT Ireland, UTV, Imagine, Perlico and all the rest are almost completely reliant on eircom. Even Digiweb use the resold version of eircom’s dsl product for their DSL offering. So while we see reports that eircom now only have 50% of the broadband market or some other “fact” like that, it really means that eircom retail has 50% of the reseller market. eircom wholesale still has 89% of the market or a figure around that mark. The same excuse is given when Noel Dempsey is questioned about the telecoms market. Lots of competition, hundreds of telecom companies. That’s like calling every tupperware salesdroid a kitchen utensil company. The press should know better than to swallow the usual telecoms poodle and DMCNR bullshit.

Imagine if we relied on just one food wholesale in this country? A wholesaler who really can do what they want and get away with it because the body regulating it doesn’t like to make a fuss. The regulator who has never fined a telco for any bad behaviour. We wouldn’t let them regulate our food supply I bet. The regulator who won’t take a complaint from a consumer until they’ve gone through the complaints process with their existing telecoms provider. By the time they’ve exhuasted themselves going through the complaints maze, they’re too pissed off and tired to then start the whole thing again with a regulator who doesn’t want to know.

I hear many complaints from telcos about eircom taking twice as long to connect a reseller’s customer to dsl as they do for their existing customers. You ring eircom and they can have you connected in 3 days to broadband, you ring a reseller and they have to ring eircom and they get told 2-3 weeks. The resellers have complained to ComReg and it seems ComReg don’t want to do anything. After that the telcos give up. They give up easily don’t they?

We really need a Ryanair type telco in Ireland. Someone not tied to the likes of TIF, someone not giving a fuck about the Minister, someone who doesn’t care about brown-nosing. The brash style of Michael O’Leary has got him a lot. Pissed off everyone but made him king nonetheless. I’d love to see full page advertisments taking the Minister to task and the Government to task about telecoms. Instead we have pussy-whipped telcos muttering in non-public places when they should be picking fights in public and getting consumers and the public behind them. Keep pushing for prices to lower but instead they are those ugly creatures at the bottom of the ocean, getting sufficiently fat on the shit that falls to the bottom when the eircom shark is finished devouring the market. There’s still a sufficient margin for them to make money so they don’t care about the crazy wholesale prices.

BT, UTV and Magnet have considerable resources and they don’t seem to be using them to change the game in Ireland. Shame on them. So guys, step forward and take some of the blame for the terrible state of the Irish telecoms market.

Nice work Allyn Quigley!

Tuesday, December 26th, 2006

I found this video of a boyband-like cover for a Shakin Stevens song on Bebo:

I love the snow or is it talcum powder and washing powder? 🙂

Directed by Allyn Quigley. Other videos from Allyn are another boyband like video covering Westlife which had me laughing out loud in some bits:

and moving on to something more original, a trailer for “irish/white/catholic”. Anything using the Doors song “The End” gets bonus points:

Lastly, my favourite so far “Size Matters”:

Good editing, good sound and the shots really flowed well together. Simon should try and get Allyn to enter the VoteTube contest.

Brussel Sprout for sale on eBay – sprouts are not just for Christmas

Monday, December 25th, 2006

SproutBid on a brussel sprout on eBay. Ships from Birmingham.

eircom. A better attitude or just a better accent? – Irish Telecoms Review 2006 Part 1

Monday, December 25th, 2006

Another year, another new owner for eircom. The new owners of eircom impress me. They’re far more professional than the previous mobsters. They shine at PR. The charming French chairman Pierre Danon was in the job a day or two and he had his people on to ask IrelandOffline to meet him. He sent me a Christmas card this year. I’d have expected a barring order from the old crowd. The Australian CEO is the same. Always talking to those on the other side of the battlefield. After the TodayFM interview the other night, Rex Combs gave me a shout on my mobile for a “debriefing”. It was at times an “animated” conversation and it was quite shocking to hear from an eircom person that one of the biggest issues was availability. This was from the same company that blamed everything from weather to geography for lack of broadband and said people simply did not want it. This new guy is all about getting broadband to more people but with the Henry Ford attitude of they can have any broadband, once it is eircom’s.

[ As a quick aside it is funny to see that TIF which is bankrolled by eircom is now saying availability is an issue when 12 months ago it was saying the opposite, it is also funny to see the “independent” telecoms poodle is now saying avaiability is an issue when they did their best to blame demand less than 12 months ago. At times it is hard to distinguish the press wing of eircom from ComReg. ]

But it is not just PR, the new eircom are far far better at business and seem hell-bent on illiminating all competition. They are making local loop unbundling in Ireland even more difficult. They are rolling out broadband to 100 more Irish towns, which is great but those towns where they announced exchange upgrades are nearly, without exception, the same towns where there are Group Broadband Schemes and local wireless providers. They’re just going into take the market created by the others. They are rolling out Wimax in just 5 major cities in order to combat the competition from Irish Broadband, Digiweb, Clearwire and NTL cable. This can be seen by the fact that you can only get wimax after your line fails their broadband test and they can’t fix it. No way of directly odering Wimax from them. No rural rollout yet. I suggested to eircom they hand back an unused spectrum they have to rural companies can use it. I doubt it will happen.

eircom showed how they have the power this year when they called Smart’s bluff and 40,000 customers lost their phone service. A huge chunk of them, possibly up to two thirds moved back to eircom. They also showed their strong serong control of ComReg when they pressured them to take the 3G licence off Smart and when it went to court, the court sided with ComReg. eircom will now get the 3G licence. What’s more, this week’s TodayFM interview where ComReg’s John Doherty and eircom’s Rex Combs were like lovers the way they were in constant agreement. A telling part of this was when Comb’s said LLU was fine and Doherty agreed, yet the ComReg report above shows that LLU is far from working.

And lastly, ComReg and the DCMNR will do nothing whatsoever when eircom are given a further increase in the most expensive line rental in the EU and possibly the OECD.

Were I without a conscience and were eircom on the stockmarket, I’d be buying shares in them. 2007 is going to be a fantastic year for them and a a not so great year for anyone willing to take them on.

James Brown – Now playing in the Kingdom of Heaven

Monday, December 25th, 2006

I never got to see this legend live which is a shame but his influence on modern music is huge. Bye bye James Brown. Here’s James taking on the Devil in one of the BMW films:

Fluffy Links – December 25th 2006

Monday, December 25th, 2006

Best blog post title ever.

Justin Mason has a coolio (when did I turn into Marc Canter?) cliché bookmarklet.

A Christmas message from the head of Iran. Scary? nawwww.

The Judges are calling McDowell’s bluff. Good good.

Some Fianna Fail councillor wants a DNA database because of the UK serial killer. Can we have civil partnerships too then since you want to copy the UK? And a Queen?

The Alchemists – Ad mavericks documentary trailer.

Been reading a lot about Apple and Steve Jobs lately. This is their famous 1984 ad:

How to get rid of unwanted presents:

The Wii on a cinema screen. Now if only I knew someone married to a manager of a cinema…