The arrival of Dense Air has big implications for New Zealand’s cellular market, apart from anything else it will spice up the next spectrum auction.
London-based Dense Air has purchased a considerable amount of New Zealand wireless spectrum from Malcolm Dick’s Blue Reach business and Cayman Wireless.
The company intends to set up a wholesale small cell mobile network. Dense Air says it will not compete direct with existing mobile carriers. It says it can begin operation “almost immediately”.
Dense Air now has rights to 70 MHz of spectrum in the 2.5GHz band. Of this, it acquired 30 MHz from former CallPlus owner Malcolm Dick who previously talked about running a similar wholesale cellular operation using his Blue Reach brand. The rest comes from Cayman Wireless which is a part of Craig Wireless, a Canadian company.
The New Zealand Herald reports Dense Air paid a total of almost $26 million for the spectrum. That is about 13 times the amount the owners paid for the spectrum in 2007.
There are implications for prices when the government decides to auction 5G spectrum some time in the next 18 months or so. If Dense Air decides to enter that auction it will push prices higher and could edge out cash-strapped 2degrees and Vodafone.
Dense Air is unknown in New Zealand. The company began operation in February of this year and part of US-based Airspan.
The company says it is a new class of wholesale network operator. It aims to “enhance and extend” coverage and capacity for existing mobile carriers and says it will run as a “carrier of carriers”.
Small cell sites
In practice this means Dense Air will build and run a series of 4G and 5G small cell sites. The aim is to compliment existing networks. It says that in most cases these will extend existing networks in places that need denser coverage. This might be places such as shopping malls, office parks, campuses or sports stadiums. Dense Air says its small cell approach can dramatically improve performance and capacity.
That said, Dense Air has more than enough spectrum to compete with all three carriers in New Zealand. Should it choose to do so, it could offer MVNO (mobile virtual network operator) services. This could be of interest to telcos such as Vocus or MyRepublic, both wish to offer mobile services but own neither spectrum nor their own cellular networks.
New Zealanders are happy using digital identities to deal with government agencies.
Yet, according to the 2018 Unisys Security Index survey, we’re less happy using similar digital identities for financial transactions, paying for things and other commercial applications.
Take the idea of having an emergency button a phone so you can send your location to the police if you’re in trouble. Unisys found 84 percent of New Zealanders like the idea. Only eight percent do not.
Medical devices reporting to doctors
How about having medical devices send alerts to doctors if there’s a significant change in readings? This could be a pacemaker noticing something happening with a heart or a blood sugar monitor seeing a spike.
The survey found eight times as many New Zealanders like the idea as those who don’t. It appears that we trust the police and health professionals.
A different picture emerges when there’s money involved. Unisys found that almost two-thirds of New Zealanders do not like the idea of personal health trackers reporting information to insurance companies, even if it might mean lower premiums. A quarter are in favour of the idea while the rest are undecided.
Likewise only half the population likes the idea of being able to make bank or credit card payments from a watch. When Unisys asked the same people why they didn’t support sharing personal data, there was a consistent pattern in their responses.
No compelling reason to share
In most cases the answer is “there is not a compelling enough reason for them to have this data.”
When money is involved respondents expressed misgivings about data security. This seems a reasonable response given the number of high-profile news stories about data security breaches. It means that organisations hoping to do business this way have their work cut out convincing customers their services are safe and that their requests for data are always benign.
Andrew Whelan, Unisys vice-president Commercial industries for Asia-Pacific says the last year has been relatively calm in terms of New Zealand politics and natural disasters. So our security focus has been elsewhere. He says: “…Local and global data breaches dominated media headlines and impacted many of us personally – so data security is top of mind.
Government yes, commerce not so much
“The results indicate that New Zealanders are more likely to embrace digital identities to engage with government organisations, especially where there are clear benefits of increased convenience or security.
“But in the banking sector, concerns about data security are hindering the take up of new services such as digital wallets and the integrated financial products that are evolving in the growing open banking environment.
“To overcome this discomfort, service providers must be able to show New Zealand consumers the measures they’ve taken to protect customer data across the entire supply chain.”
This is the second of a series of sponsored posts about the 2018 Unisys Security Index. Click the link for more information about the survey.
Identity theft, bank card fraud and hacking top New Zealanders’ security concerns according to the 2018 Unisys Security Index.
On the whole, we’re more relaxed than people in most other countries. Unisys publishes its security index year. The index is a snapshot of how people feel about security issues.
This year Unisys surveyed 13,000 people worldwide, 1000 in each of 13 countries including New Zealand. The result is a comprehensive picture of how ordinary people around the world feel about security.
Concern high, not rising
The top line figure, a single index number, is a score out of 300 which shows the overall level of concern. This year’s worldwide index sits at 173 points. It’s the same as last year’s number, but a long way up from a decade ago when it stood at 130 points.
When it comes to major security worries, New Zealanders are not remarkably different from the rest of the world. But our overall level of concern is far lower than elsewhere.
With a security index of 138, New Zealand is third from the bottom of the 13 nations surveyed. Only Germany and the Netherlands are less concerned than us. People in the UK, Australia and the US are more concerned than those in New Zealand.
Philippines people are the most concerned. The index in that country sits at 232.
This year, last year
New Zealand recorded the largest security index drop. Last year the New Zealand security index stood at 154. During the year it fell To 138, a fall of 16 points. Only the Netherland’s number fell by the same amount. Most other countries, including top-of-the-table The Philipines, saw their index fall.
Columbia saw a huge rise. It was up 47 points year-on-year. Things also took a turn for the worse in Argentina which is up 23 points. The UK was a touch more fearful with its index climbing 5 points, albeit off a low base, to reach 149. Last year it was comfortably below New Zealand.
We’re more comfortable, but our fears are in line with everyone else
While there are nuances, it turns out our main concerns are the same as everyone else’s.
As Unisys puts it:
“The highest personal concerns are where people feel they have least personal control: identity theft and bankcard fraud
Globally, people surveyed were more concerned about losing their identity or financial information than they are about war, terrorism or natural disasters.”
The survey data shows around eight in ten New Zealanders are extremely or very concerned about at least one aspect of online security. The worldwide figure is nine in ten, so we’re a little more relaxed but not out of line with international opinion.
Identity theft tops Unisys Security Index
Identity theft tops the list with 53 percent saying they are extremely or very concerned. This compares with 68 percent of respondents worldwide.
Bank card fraud worries half the New Zealand sample while 47 percent say they are extremely or very concerned about hacking and viruses.
In general women are more concerned about security issues than men and younger people are more concerned than older folk.
This is one of a series of sponsored posts about the 2018 Unisys Security Index. Over the next few days we’ll explore the index in more depth..
It’s remarkable that Vodafone ever thought it could get away with calling its HFC cable network FibreX. It always look like the exercise would end in tears.
This was a law suit waiting to happen. And boy did it happen.
At the New Zealand Herald Chris Keall writes Vodafone pleads guilty to some FibreX charges, will contest others
Vodafone has pleaded guilty to nine charges brought by the Commerce Commission over its “FibreX” service, but will contest a further 18 related to allegedly misleading marketing.
That’s total of 27 charges. In other words this is a big deal.
A rose by any other name
Most, but not all, the problems stem from the name.
I questioned the name when FibreX launched. A Vodafone executive explained with a smile that the name comes from the full version of HFC: hybrid FIBRE coaXial. He knew it was pushing things a bit.
HFC uses both fibre and copper cables. The network was first built almost twenty years ago. There are networks in Kapiti as well as parts of Wellington and Christchurch.
Vodafone inherited the network when it acquired TelstraClear in 2012.
Readers with long memories may remember that the cable network had appalling performance at that time. Yet it was capable of delivering television signals along with broadband data connections at a time the copper network would often struggle with video.
From outside it looked as if TelstraClear had under invested in the technology and even neglected the network.
The TelstraClear acquisition was a mixed bag for Vodafone. It accelerated the company away from being a mobile phone carrier into enterprise and fixed line markets.
It didn’t do much to grow Vodafone’s market share. The company’s overall market share in 2018 is the same as it was in 2009, despite swallowing a sizeable rival.
In some respects the HFC network became a millstone around Vodafone’s neck. It was a support nightmare and hurt the company’s reputation.
In order to recover some of its value, Vodafone beefed up the technology moving to a new, far faster version of Docsis. While this could put it on a performance par with UFB fibre in theory, the practice proved somewhat different. HFC networks can suffer from congestion in ways the UFB network does not.
Nevertheless, it looked like a plausible alternation to UFB fibre.
FibreX vertically integrated
There is something else. Vodafone’s FibreX network is vertically integrated. The company doesn’t need to pay anything to a wholesale network provider. Vodafone gets to keep all the monthly subscription.
Vodafone launched FibreX launched a the peak of the nationwide UFB fibre build. It priced it at much the same level and its marketing went out of its way to present FibreX as a like-for-like replacement. It’s not.
The fibre networks being built by Chorus, Northpower, UFF and Enable send photons along a length of glass fibre. There are fast, reliable and modern. Some FibreX users report UFB-like performance. Others don’t. What’s clear is that it is not as consistent as fibre.
There are stories of customers calling Vodafone asking for fibre connections being told FibreX is the same thing. There are stories of customers asking for fibre being told the only upgrade available to them is FibreX.
A lot of the Commerce Commission charges are to do with the way Vodafone sold FibreX.
Vodafone is no stranger to the Commerce Commission. Over the years the company has consistently pushed at the boundaries of ethical, legal marketing of its services.
The senior executives responsible for many of those incidents have now left the company. A new team has been left the task of cleaning things up. That’s going to take time. A good place to start would be coming clean about FibreX.