@TelecomNZ needs a communication strategy rethink

We are one of thousands of households in Auckland whose suburbs (neighbourhoods) are not scheduled for the rollout of fibre broadband. Yes, the largest city in New Zealand, the economic engine of the country, has mostly copper wiring still. As a result our residential ADSL line gets a scorching 5mbps down and 700kbps (yes .7mbps, that’s not a typo) up. Which means things like Skype don’t work consistently well. Or at all. Don’t believe it when people say NZ broadband is throttled because there’s only “one pipe” coming into the country. There are two, and on many networks speeds are as spiffy as I experienced in Soviet Canuckistan.

Welcome to 21st century New Zealand.

However: both the major mobile providers have rolled out 4G service in much of Auckland (the third provider has just begun testing the service in pockets of the city). Thus on my Telecom iPhone 5 and iPad mini–both of which support LTE connectivity–get blazingly fast broadband. Consistently over 35mbps up and down. In my living room lounge.

This is both tempting and frustrating. It’s tempting because I can watch anything online in HD with few hiccups on my phone or iPad. It’s frustrating because if I do that too much it’s stoopidly expensive (thousands of dollars a month versus the $95 we pay currently). We generally go through about 65-70GB of data each month because we watch much of our TV on demand.

Being exceedingly clever (*yawn*) it occurred to me that there is a market out there that Telecom could exploit. So I sent them an email inviting said exploitation:

Good morning!Has Telecom considered marketing a home broadband service based on 4G service? I’m one of your mobile subscribers who lives in a 4G area, but whose only residential broadband is glacially slow ADSL (, New Windsor 0600).While I am not willing to pay current mobile broadband rates for our home (we use around 70GB data/month, mostly streaming TV content, but also things like Skype with overseas whanau), we would pay a reasonable premium over our current residential plan to improve our current 5MBP/S download and 700KBP/S upload speeds. There’s a massive market out there that’s untapped. We are not even on the plan for fibre–no target date.

Please think about it!

John Egan

Given the paucity of sources for getting the email address of any person of note at Telecom I used their generic web form for my request.  Amazingly, I got a reply within a couple of days:

 Subject
Good morning! Has Telecom considered marketing a home broadband service based on…
Hi John.
Thanks for contacting Telecom!
Telecom will expand the 4G service once we see how well it is received by the general public.
If you have a 4G enabled cell phone, you can use the 4G coverage in your area to your advantage.
In regards to the Fibre, Telecom aims to have everyone fibre-ready within a few years.
You can periodically check your address through telecom.co.nz, and you can even sign up for fibre updates through MyTelecom.
If you have any more queries, please do not hesitate to call 123.
Kind regards,
Lauren
Customer Care Online

I’m not sure this was written by someone who fired off a response without thinking about the substance of my request, or perhaps it was a bot. Regardless, they’ve missed the boat. Had you entered my address into the “when is fibre coming” (Telecom NZ’s own or the generic one Chorus offers) you would hear the laughter. Because we are “outside the fibre build area” and it’s “unknown” when our street will be in the queue.

I would be happy to pay something of a premium to access a 4G/LTE network–but not thousands per month. Doubtless others would be similarly inclined.

TelecomNZ: why don’t you provide some mechanism for giving suggestions and feedback on product offerings? Or train your CSRs to acknowledge such queries, including offering some sense that the suggestion is being escalated to an appropriate team?

Perhaps I’ll see what Vodafone thinks…