Friday, 6 July
Spark New Zealand’s nifty moves to reveal more agile executive line-up
Spark New Zealand has announced two key appointments, in part to underpin its transition towards an emphatically agile organisational structure.
Managing Director Simon Moutter said Spark had set out an ambitious brief for a new Marketing Director hire: “to find a New Zealander with high-quality international experience and proven creative talent and expertise in digital and social media marketing.”
“We have found that person in Matt Bain,” said Moutter. “Matt is currently European MD for AKQA – one of world’s leading innovation and brand experience agencies, with responsibility for 500+ employees across five countries.” Bain will be returning home and starting at Spark in November 2018.
Effectively immediately, Melissa Anastasiou has also joined the company’s Leadership Squad. She has been with the company since 2009 and, as General Counsel, has been a member of Spark’s wider leadership team for some time.
“More recently, Melissa has taken on a broader role through her work on Spark’s culture and Diversity & Inclusion programmes, as well as involvement in a range of strategic initiatives. I feel it is timely to acknowledge her talents by bringing Melissa onto the Leadership Squad,” Moutter said.
According to Spark, the Agile model moves away from a traditional hierarchical organisational structure based around large business units and instead involves self-managing teams, each with clear accountabilities, working together quickly to deliver products and services for customers.
“In this model, business leaders act as catalysts, showing direction and setting up the systems for people to do their jobs effectively,” said the company.
From this week, about 40% of Spark staff working in core functions such as network, IT, product development and segment marketing are forming into Agile teams.
“We recognised from the outset that Agile may not suit everyone, so we gave our people working in these areas the option of applying for one of these new Agile roles, seeking redeployment into another part of Spark, or opting for redundancy,” said Moutter.
“As at the end of last week, more than 96% of our people offered Agile roles have accepted them and we are continuing to engage with the few remaining people to resolve any uncertainties they may have,” he added.
Spark’s current management line-up is as follows:
Managing Director Simon Moutter; Customer Director Jolie Hodson; Finance Director (CFO) David Chalmers; General Counsel Melissa Anastasiou; HR Director Joe McCollum; Marketing Director Matt Bain (from November 2018); Product Director Claire Barber;Technology Director Mark Beder
15 June 2018
Gisborne Council lifts lid on moves to boost mobile coverage for rural region
Gisborne Council, which is working with the Rural Connectivity Group (RCG) to improve telecoms infrastructure in the region, has released specifics of plans to deliver improved mobile phone coverage and high-speed wireless broadband access.
Areas that currently lack connectivity due to the rural terrain, low population and lack of commercial viability for mobile operators, look set to benefit from the RCG – the joint venture comprising Spark, Vodafone and 2degrees, which is using joint funding from the Government’s Rural Broadband Initiative Phase 2 and Mobile Black Spot programmes.
“Improved connectivity is a key outcome to support the Tairāwhiti Economic Action Plan,” the Council said, adding it is helping to progress the project through planning advice and support.
Under the new rural infrastructure, all providers of mobile and broadband services are entitled to provide services to residents. The first phase of the project, the Council said, is identifying suitable build locations so services can reach the most rural households and improve mobile coverage on State Highways and key tourist destinations.
Meanwhile, RCG engagement manager Caitlin Metz said by 2022 the new infrastructure would see at least 30,000 rural homes and businesses benefiting from the rollout.
“That means 1,000 kilometres of state highways gain mobile coverage; and at least 90 top New Zealand tourist destinations will be connected,” she said.
Friday, 15 June
All change as two key NZ execs depart; Kordia wins SD-WAN deal
It’s been a week of change in the Kiwi market, with news of two key executives – the head of Vodafone NZ and New Zealand’s government chief digital officer and Department of Internal Affairs boss – stepping down. Meanwhile, Kordia is celebrating a big SD-WAN win.
Change at the top for Vodafone NZ
Vodafone NZ chief executive Russell Stanners has announced he is stepping down from the top job at the end of October, after 13 years in the role. Jason Paris, Vodafone director for Convergence Acceleration for the AMAP region and former Spark NZ home, mobile and business CEO, will take over the role on November 1.
Stanners, who joined Vodafone NZ in 2002 as the company’s first enterprise director, was appointed to the CEO role in 2005. Vodafone AMAP regional CEO Vivek Badrinath said Stanners has “transformed” the company from a consumer mobile business to a digital technology leader, providing fixed, TV, converged and mobile services to more than two million customers.
NZ chief digital officer resigns
Also leaving – this time from a role as New Zealand’s government chief digital officer and chief executive of the Department of Internal Affairs – is Colin MacDonald.
Paul James, currently chief executive of the Ministry for Culture and Heritage will take over from MacDonald as secretary for Internal Affairs and DIA chief executive in October.
MacDonald has been the DIA chief executive since 2012, moving across from his role as CEO of Land Information NZ, where he led the cross-government programme for data and information re-use. His time at the DIA saw procurement panels introduced for all of government purchasing of ICT.
The New Zealand government has struggled to fill the newly created role of government chief technology officer, sparking speculation that MacDonald could be headed there.
The news of MacDonald’s departure was one of a flurry of announcements on changes in public service executives, with the Ministry of Defence, Ministry of Justice, Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet and Ministry for Primary Industries also gaining new bosses over the next 12 months. All of the appointments are transfers from other government departments.
“Colin MacDonald is stepping down as Secretary for Internal Affairs, to pursue new opportunities,” State Services Commissioner Peter Hughes said. “I have huge respect and admiration for Colin, who has made a significant contribution in a number of senior leadership roles since joining the Public Service in 2001 after a notable career in the private sector. I thank him for his service.”
Kordia Cisco Meraki-based SD-WAN offering to bring peace of mind to Wise Group
Korida is rolling out a 54 site SD-WAN offering, based on Cisco Meraki equipment, for New Zealand mental health and wellbeing provider Wise Group.
The SD-WAN is expected to reduce Wise’s wide area networking costs by up to 50%, while also simplifying management and operation of the WAN and increasing flexibility, performance and capabilities.
Wise already uses Kordia’s SecureWAN offering, but Mark Thorn, Wise Group general manager of information services, said the company was looking for ‘something more flexible and recognised that we didn’t need the bulletproof quality of service of a traditional WAN.
“Probably the biggest advantage of SD-WAN is that it delivers flexibility,” Thorn said. “We can extend the WAN to wherever it needs to go, whenever we need it to go there; it is easy to split off to temporary residential sites, for example, and it opens the pipes for full speed access along with all the corporate policies we want to provide.”
Friday, 1 June
5G, rural broadband acceleration and cybersecurity expansion
Spark has announced that Cisco is the first of several collaborators it will be working with to prepare and test the parameters for a Kiwi 5G network as it aims to help Kiwi businesses “win big in a digital world.”
Cisco signed an agreement earlier this month to contribute services, technology and capability to the hub which will develop, test and prepare for 5G deployment.
The hub will see vendors, developers and application provides working together on innovations. Spark chief operating officer Mark Beder says 5G will create endless opportunities for innovation of products and services in New Zealand, transforming the way we live, work and play through significantly faster speeds and considerably more capacity.
“The purpose of the 5G innovation hub is to start planning and testing use cases that’ll help New Zealand business win big in a digital world,” Beder said.
Cisco ANZ sales and operations director for service providers Andrew Findlay said the hub will allow Kiwi companies to work with Cisco’s programmable networking technology within a 5G sandbox.
Spark has already trialled 5G in Wellington and Auckland, achieving speeds of 18.23 Gigabits a second.
Rural broadband rollout jumps ahead
Work on phase two of the Rural Broadband Initiative and Mobile Black Spot Fund builds will be “substantially” finished by the end of 2021 – a year ahead of schedule according to Communications Minister Clare Curran.
Rural communities not covered by the RBI2 and its expansion project will be able to apply for funding from the NZ$1 billion Provincial Growth Fund.
“There is enormous untapped potential in our provinces – we have businesses with ideas and ambitions but they need infrastructure like high-speed broadband to compete equally in our 21st century economy,” Curran said. “We want to let them know we are supporting them, and to let them know what’s coming down the line.”
Curran said the Labour led government intends to grow ICT to be the second largest contributor to GDP by 2025.
Malware-Free Networks expands
The GCSB, New Zealand’s public service agency charged with promoting national security, is expanding its Malware-Free Networks cyber defence initiative to provide protection to more Kiwi organisations.
Andrew Little, the minister responsible for the Government Communications Security Bureau said expanding the service will “significantly” increase the range of organisations receiving the cyber defence services Government offers New Zealand’s organisations of national significance through the GCSB.
Organisations of national significance include Government departments, key economic generators, niche exporters, research institutions and critical national infrastructure.
The expansion follows a pilot with Vodafone and some of the telco’s customers.
Little said the pilot showed Malware-Free Networks has “the potential to disrupt a significant volume of malicious cyber activity.”
The GCSB is developing a plan to work with telco network operators to deliver the expanded service, which is expected to take a couple of months. The GCSB already provides its Cortex cyber defence offering to nationally significant organisations.
SamKnows to monitor Kiwi broadband
The Commerce Commission has awarded a nationwide programme to monitor New Zealand’s broadband performance to a UK-based company, SamKnows.
The testing previously been managed by Kiwi company TrueNet, which announced earlier this year that it was closing after learning it had lost the contract.
Telecommunications Commissioner Dr Stephen Gale said the programme is costing NZ$2.8 million over three years, under SamKnows.
“SamKnows was a standout applicant. It is considered to be a world leader in internet service performance, currently assessing broadband performance for about half of the world’s internet population,” Dr Gale said.
Friday, 25 May
Another strong showing for New Zealand in IDC’s Asia Pacific Smart Cities Awards, a first of its kind network trial for Chorus and a Quantum acceleration for Spark – it’s the week that was in New Zealand’s telco scene.
‘First of its kind’ open access network trial for Chorus
Network provider Chorus has teamed up with Nokia for an open access network infrastructure trial which Nokia said is a ‘first of its kind solution’.
Chorus will trial Nokia’s wavelength services solution for on-demand assurance and fulfilment of Layer 1 services as part of Chorus’ one open access network infrastructure vision designed to accelerate the monetisation of infrastructure by offering fibre access, transport services, premium colocation and network hubs. Chorus said the solution, which is compliant with emerging MEF standards for L1 subscriber services, will enable it to offer new standards-based optical services to service providers.
“With its support for compact demarcation devices and end-customer portal access to fully instrumented service assurance dashboards and reports, we believe that solutions like this will further advance our service offer and put more network control in the hands of our service providers,” Chorus CTO Ewen Powell said.
Three Kiwi projects in running for APAC Smart Cities awards
Three Kiwi projects are finalists in the 2018 IDC Asia Pacific Smart Cities awards, continuing New Zealand’s strong form in the awards.
Auckland City Council has been shortlisted as finalist in two categories. Its Safeswim project, which provides real-time data on wastewater and stormwater network performance, with predictive models, to provide water quality forecasts for swimming sites around Auckland, is in the running for an award in the Smart Water category. The system has significantly improved water safety alerts.
The council’s Upsouth youth empowerment and civic engagement digital platform is also a finalist in the Digital Equity and Accessibility category. Upsouth is designed to improve participation and engagement to increase diversity in decision making. Users earn micropayment for their ideas and contributions from the sponsorship money pool supporting each call/question.
Also in the running for the awards is Datacom’s Antenno, which is a finalist in the Civic Engagement category. Antenno is a mobile app solution designed to improve common action about council services, public safety, public infrastructure and other community information. The app, which is being used by South Waikato District Council and Marlborough District Council, enables local government departments to send alerts and notifications and also receive feedback and input from the community.
Last year New Zealand claimed four Smart City Asia Pacific Awards, with Qrious, NEC, Unison and Waikato District Health all winning.
Jefferson King, IDC New Zealand Associate Market Analyst, said of this year’s showing: “For a country the size of New Zealand to have three projects that stand out on the regional stage is a fantastic achievement.
“New Zealand has consistently punched above its weight in the four years that these awards have been running.”
Management revamp as senior execs depart Chorus
Chorus is revamping its executive team as two senior managers exit the company.
Nick Woodward, product sales and marketing general manager, is leaving after 10 years. Woodward has been with Chorus since it started as a business unit in the then Telecom (now Spark) business in 2008.
Ed Hyde, previously CEO of Spark Ventures, has been appointed as chief customer officer. Hyde said as Chorus nears the conclusion of the bulk of its fibre build, and with a rapidly and dynamically changing environment, customer focus and innovation will be “essential” for the company to achieve its objectives.
Meanwhile, network and file management general manager Ed Beattie will leave in August, with current chief financial officer Andrew Carroll moving into the role. A global search has begun for a replacement CFO, with Carroll remaining as CFO, while also taking on the new role, until a new CFO is found.
Quantum acceleration for Spark
Spark NZ is accelerating its Quantum transformation and performance improvement programme with earnings expected to fall as restructuring costs are brought forward into the FY18 results. The telco is forecasting earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation of between $971 million and $991 million for the year to June 30 – down from the $996 million to $1.02 billion previously forecast.
Simon Moutter, Spark managing director, said the three frontrunner Agile ‘tribes’ set up by Spark in February are already demonstrating ‘impressive’ improvements in terms of deeply embedded customer centricity, dramatically increased speed to market and empowered and engaged employees with greater productivity.
Changes originally expected to kick in in FY19 all now be implemented this FY.
Spark said additional implementation costs of between $25 million and $30 million are now expected to be brought forward into reported FY18 earnings.
Friday, 18 May
Soaring broadband consumption, a Vodafone sale, Spark’s Cisco deal and Vocus shuts down an automated phone scam… We take a look at some of this week’s key news in the New Zealand market.
Vocus shuts down automated phone scam
A phone scam, where callers received an automated message claiming to be from police and threatening the recipient with arrest if they don’t pay money to Inland Revenue was shut down by Vocus Group, according to New Zealand Police.
More than 2,400 calls were made to New Zealand phones before Vocus detected the campaign and was able to stop it, police said. Police received numerous complaints about the scam.
Vocus Group CTO Adrian Dick said the telecommunications company uses sophisticated scam monitoring tools, and was able to block the number being used for the scam calls and then alert other telcos and the Police High Tech Crime Group.
Detective Sergeant Damain Rapira-Davies warned that people need to look after their personal details in the same way they would a wallet or personal possessions.
Kiwi broadband demand sees usage double in two years – 680GB/month forecast for 2020
Broadband use in New Zealand has soared from an average of 101GB per household in April 2016 to a whopping 204GB in April 2018, according to new figures from Chorus.
Chorus is forecasting average monthly data per household of 680GB come 2020.
Kurt Rodgers, Chorus network strategy manager, said in 2011 the average use in households was just 13GB.
“In the space of a few years, the demand has gone through the roof,” he said. “And there’s no sign of the demand slowing. Our view is that ever-increasing data demands and the evolution of new data-hungry devices and applications, such as 4K televisions and virtual reality, will only continue to fuel the demand for bandwidth.
April’s figures cover the Commonwealth Games, which were streamed by national broadcaster TVNZ, and school holiday period.
Vodafone ups rural broadband push
Vodafone has snapped up telecommunications service provider Team Talk’s remaining 30% stake in rural broadband provider Farmside.
Vodafone New Zealand acquired 70% of Farmside in June 2017 for $10 million in cash in a deal that included options to enable Team Talk to sell its remaining stake to Vodafone for $3 million cash at any time over the following three years.
Vodafone New Zealand chief executive Russell Stanners said the deal deepens the telco’s commitment to rural communities.
“With Farmside now firmly part of the Vodafone whānau [family], we can continue to deliver better outcomes for these communities and increase our presence in the rural broadband market,” Stanners said.
No immediate major changes are expected in the operation of Farmside, which will continue to be based in Timaru providing all its current services.
The change of ownership takes effect at midnight May 31, 2018.
Spark NZ adds to UC offerings
Spark New Zealand is adding BroadSoft’s cloud-based unified communications offerings to its lineup.
The new deal will see Spark offering a suite of UC services, including instant message and presence, hosted voice, mobile client support, a full-featured soft client for computing devices, desktop and file sharing, virtual meeting rooms and voice and video conferencing, based on BroadSoft’s UC-One application.
Broadsoft is now part of Cisco. The new service, which will hit the market ‘in the first half of this year’, will be branded Spark Cloud Phone.
Sally Gordon, Spark head of business marketing, said business customers have been asking for a feature-rich calling solution to help improve collaboration, and which can easily scale as business needs change.