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Sky cost cutting delivers, Vodafone drops TV

Sky cost cutting delivers profit upgrade

Sky doubled its profit guidance for the 2022 financial year.

The broadcaster, and now broadband service provider, says it has found significant cost savings that won’t impact on the service it provides.

Previously Sky told the market it was on track to make a profit of between $17.5 and $27.5 million this year. That’s been upgraded to between $40 and $48 million, in effect doubling its profit.

The company’s EBITDA, Earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortisation is now expected to climb from $115–130 million to $150–160 million.

Sky’s turnaround follows a company wide cost review. The company expects to save an extra $35 million in operating costs this financial year, this includes $26 million of recurring cost reduction and a $9 million one-off saving.

In future years this will amount to $40 to 45 million of savings each year.

Despite this, Sky says it will deliver more hours of programming.

One area of cost saving was to continue the practice of using local sports commentary for overseas coverage of events. In the past Sky would send its own crew overseas. The company stopped this practice because of Covid, and now plans to continue with it.

Telco complaints fall by a third

The Telecommunications Dispute Resolution service saw a 31 per cent drop in enquiries in 2021. Fairway, the business managing the service, received a total of 1940 enquiries.

Billing remains the main cause of concern with customers disputing charges on invoices. Customer serves is the second biggest complaint with users telling the resolution team telcos failed to follow up requests or keep them informed.

There was a huge increase in complaints about service interruption, up 658 per cent on a year earlier. Many were about congestion meaning customers did not see expected speeds or about dropped connections.

Fairway says the drop in enquiries was helped by a number of Covid related measures put in place by telcos. These include a moratorium on referring accounts to debt collectors and extended payment terms.

Fewer enquiries meant fewer complaints went through to the formal dispute resolution stage. The service resolved 1961 cases during the year, nearly all of these were dealt with at an early phase.

Customer service tops ComCom todo list

The Commerce Commission says it will prioritise work on improving customer service. The move comes after a Commission poll that found half of all consumers want the regulator to do more to fix poor customer service.

The poll asked consumers for feedback on a range of issues and will be used to help plan the Commission’s work in the telecommunications sector.

Common customer service complaints include long waiting times, multiple transfers and poor record keeping.

Around one in five consumers wants the commission to focus on product disclosure practices and one in ten wants the regulator to look at billing, debt and affordability.

Telecommunications Forum CEO Paul Brislen says the guidance from the Commerce Commission means the industry body can prioritise its work over the next year.

Pulling the plug on Vodafone TV

Vodafone says it plans to switch off its Vodafone TV service. The service will stop on September 30 next year.

The company says it is giving customers nine months notice to help them make a smooth transition to an alternative service.

Vodafone TV launched in 2017 as a joint project with Sky TV. The company says it will now work with Sky to help move its customers across to that company’s services.

It will be interesting to see how the relationship between Vodafone and Sky develops now Sky is a broadband service provider.

Thinxtra, Tether build IoT tools for managing Covid risk

Australian IoT business Thinxtra is working with New Zeland’s Tether to work on projects tackling the Covid risk in public buildings. The pair will use Thinxtra’s low-power wide area network for a system monitoring indoor air quality at places like schools, aged care facilities and commercial buildings.

Aura: Ransomware, not if but when

Research conducted by Aura Information Security, part of Kordia, says 55 per cent of New Zealand businesses saw ransomware attacks in the last year.

Two-thirds of those companies managed to fix the problem before significant damage was done. The other third did not.

Hilary Walton, Kordia Group’s chief information security officer says: “Ransomware is a matter of when, not if, for New Zealand businesses. While it’s not a new threat, cybercriminals have perfected the way they target and breach their victim’s networks.”

Opensignal: 5G users seeing fast download speeds

A report from Opensignal says the average download speed for 5G users is 240.7Mbps. This compares with an average of 41.9Mbps for 4G mobile users. This puts New Zealand in the top 15 countries for 5G download speeds.

The report goes to great pains to spell out the performance difference between 5G mobile and Wi-Fi speeds.

It says Wi-Fi is on average 21 per cent faster than 4G, while 5G is close to five times the speed of Wi-Fi. Yet Opensignal says games players get much the same experience on 5G and Wi-Fi.

Telcos sponsoring Rugby teams

Tuatahi First Fibre has signed to be a sponsor of the Gallagher Chiefs Rugby Club.

As part of the deal it will become the official broadband fibre infrastructure network for the club. That’s a curious choice of words given TFF is the monopoly fibre infrastructure network in the Hamilton area where the club is located.

The TFF brand will feature on the club’s training jersey.

Meanwhile 2degrees is the sponsor and “exclusive telecommunications partner” of all four Super Rugby Aupiki teams in the woman’s professional club competition.

The telco’s logo will feature on jerseys and on the jersey’s of New Zealand’s five Super Rugby teams where it also has a sponsorship agreement.

‌In case you missed it: In the first part of this week’s RNZ Nine to Noon technology segment I talk to Kathryn Ryan about the work done over the last year to fill in gaps on the telecommunications network.