Stories by Juha Saarinen, Computerworld

Gen-i boss sells shares

Gen-i's CEO Chris Quin has sold over $120,000 worth of Telecom shares to provide funds for family lifestyle choices, he says. The share sale isn’t an indication of his moving on elsewhere in the New Year, Quin says, adding that he’s looking forward to remaining with Gen-i and Telecom for “a long time yet.” According to Quin, the shares sold represent only a small part of his holding in Telecom, built up over the eighteen years he has been employed at the telco. “The shares are part of the remuneration package and vest from time to time,” Quin says. Asked how large his shareholding in Telecom is, Quin says he’s unsure how much of the company he now holds. Quin sold 49,935 Ordinary Shares in Telecom in three transactions on December 7, 8 and 9 this year, for a total of $120,584.76 as per an Ongoing Disclosure Notice issued to the New Zealand stock exchange. Meanwhile, Gen-i and the New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) have extended their telecommunications and IT services relationship with the award of a new licensing contract. NZDF has awarded Gen-i a three year contract for Microsoft and other software licensing management, as well as NetApp hardware procurement with enabling software. NZDF says it anticipates reduced licensing costs, greater efficiency from its licensing and significant procurement and operating efficiencies. Gen-i currently provides NZDF with its desktop and laptop PCs and peripherals, managed data services, enterprise PABX (voice), infrastructure and equipment and professional services.

Gen-i takes big earnings hit in September 09 quarter

Telecom’s IT services arm Gen-i faced tough trading, with revenues dropping across most of its business in the last quarter. Overall earnings before income tax, depreciation and accounting charges fell by close to thirty percent, as customers cut spending and increased competition bit in Gen-i’s mobile and data businesses.See also: Telecom Q1 profits upTelecommunications earnings from local service, mobile, data and calling revenue all dropped significantly, mainly due to customers consolidating access lines, Voice over IP usage and price declines. Broadband and internet, however, was up from $6m to $7m but mobile revenue was relatively flat, despite Telecom’s new XT network and the marketing drives associated with it. IT solutions revenue declined a moderate 3.5 percent to $111m in the quarter ended September 30, 2009, buoyed by a twenty-five percent in internal revenue from the Telecom Group. Gen-i culled the number of full-time contractors by over half in the September quarter, for both telecommunications and IT solutions, reducing labour costs by six percent. However, this was offset by increases in permanent employee numbers.

Telecom gets exclusive TiVo deal for New Zealand

TVNZ and TiVo announced today that Telecom is their exclusive broadband partner for the service. Launching in November this year, TiVo has expanded from being a digital video recording device to offering movies and TV programmes to rent, according to Robbee Minicola, CEO of official licensee Hybrid TV.

Callplus lowers mobile rates even further

New mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) Callplus has come out with a range of plans targeting mainly prepay customers with low rates for calls and text messages. Callplus general manager Mark Callander says the consumer offerings will be done under the Slingshot brand, with two plans available later this week. The first, Mobile 1, will have a contract length of six months and cost $10 a month. For that, customers get three-tiered pricing for calls that Callander says is designed to encourage people to use their mobile more. The first minute is charged at 50 cents, with the second minute costing 40 cents, and any subsequent minutes charged at 30 cents. This, Callander says, makes it simple for customer to understand how much they spend. Unlike existing prepay offerings, customers are not being penalised by high calling rates in the 89 cents a region, Callander says. Mobile 2 is the second Slingshot plan, with a one-year contract at $20 a month. For this, customers get a flat 25 cents per minute rate to any mobile network in New Zealand. Text messaging packages for the two plans cost $9.95 for 2000 messages, or $6.95 for 600, again to any New Zealand network, Callander says. The first minute is fully charged and from then charged per second, he says. Read more at Computerworld.

Govt kills Broadband Investment Fund and Digital Development Council

It’s official: National will cancel Labour’s Broadband Investment Fund (BIF), according to Minister of Communications Steven Joyce. Joyce told Computerworld that the BIF doesn’t match the government’s broadband investment plans that include rolling out a $1.5 billion fibre broadband network covering 75% of New Zealanders within six years, and therefore it will be cancelled. BIF was set up by the former Labour administration, to provide $340 million over five years, to assist rural and urban broadband projects. Shortly after winning the election in November, National announced that it had put the BIF on hold, while it was deciding on the future of the funding programme. By that time, the Ministry of Economic Development had received 19 full applications for funding, and 56 expressions of interest from organisations around the country. In “clearing the decks” from the previous administration, Joyce also says the Digital Development Council or DDC will go. The DDC was set up in 2007 with $825,000 in funding until 2010. Its board comprised members from Business New Zealand, InternetNZ, Local Government NZ, the New Zealand Computer Society, Te Huarahi Tika or Maori Spectrum Trust, TUANZ, WIT, and the 2020 National Communications Trust. The aim of the DDC was to help New Zealand to become a world leader in ICT use. However, Joyce says that he prefers to speak to the various parties directly, and points to ICT-NZ as an existing industry body for the sector that government can work with. Yesterday, State Services Minister Tony Ryall canned another Labour-era project, the Government Shared Network (GSN), a move Labour's new ICT spokeswoman, Clare Curran, labelled "backwards".