Without a doubt the 2degrees offering falls down on data. It’s charged at 50c a megabyte. Telecom makes a big, big deal about how fast the XT network is, enabling you to download a YouTube video onto your smartphone in seconds. Vodafone’s currently running a promotion that gives you 1GB a month for free until 2010 if you sign up to long term contract.
But how many people actually need all that data today? 2degrees Marketing Manager Larrie Moore says that on his network for 50c you can make 50 TradeMe bids and for $1 you can send and receive up to 100 emails.
To Port or Not to Port: If mobile data matters then don’t port. 2degrees Chief Technology Officer Mike Goss assures ConnectMe that providing better data services is on the technology roadmap but they ain’t there yet.
At first glance texting is good value on 2degrees – at 9c it’s less than half what Vodafone and Telecom offer at 20c. But texting has become an intrinsic part of our culture. Its popularity might have its roots in cheaper communications but it’s morphed into an alternative to talking, one that many prefer. Vodafone and Telecom offer text bundles which make it less than a cent to text but that’s only if you’re prepared to pay for them upfront and if you use up the entire amount in a month.
2degrees offers a minimal text bundle depending on your monthly spend, for example 150 texts for 20 minutes. They claim their research shows that the average number of texts people send each month is between 100– 150.
To Port or Not to Port: Even Larrie Moore admits that if you’re a text-aholic then 2degrees is not for you. So, just as with mobile data, assess your text habit and decide accordingly.
Bells and whistles
Vodafone and Telecom have spent millions of dollars on creating a shopping experience in which you can try out the latest devices in a modern store at your local mall. 2degrees haven’t.
To Port or Not to Port: This really shouldn’t factor into your decision making. Handsets are available in many different stores as well as online, so shop around – for example the iPhone is cheaper if you pay for it online via the Apple website then if you buy it through its New Zealand distributor Vodafone.
One of the really clever things Telecom and Vodafone have done is to create calling communities to ensure you and your friends all belong to the same network. This makes you reluctant to phone another number because you pay more to go ‘off-net’. The Commerce Commission claims the reason for this is because they charge each other 15c a minute to accept each others calls. This charge is called a Mobile Termination Rate (MTR). Lobby groups such as the Telecommunications Users Association, Federated Farmers and the New Zealand Union of Students Associations have joined forces with 2degrees to try to convince Communications Minister Steven Joyce to allow regulation that would force the price of MTRs down. They claim it’s a huge barrier to competition because it makes people reluctant to change networks.
But Vodafone says the campaign is a thinly disguised marketing campaign for 2degrees and Telecom says rates are already dropping.
To Port or Not to Port:
Telecommunications is big business and the Commerce Commission is there to ensure companies don’t abuse their market power. But this is one dirty fight. Google the words “drop the mate rate” and make up your own mind as to whether it should make a difference to your buying decisions.
Reliability and service
Within the first week of its launch, 2degrees had given away 78,500 SIM cards – in part to test the network’s coverage and reliability. At the time of ConnectMe going to print there had been no complaints about the network but the same could not be said for the 2degrees website. Two days after launching they discovered a bug which meant the private details of some customers were being shown to others who were signing up. 2degrees immediately closed the sections of its website which were affected. It was to take another 10 days before new customers could port their numbers online (although they began enabling porting through the contact centre).
To Port of Not to Port:
It’s not a good look for a technology company to spend so long fixing its website. Should 2degrees be judged harshly because they stuffed this up? Maybe, but perhaps Kiwi’s will give them a fair go this time.
* Number portability enables you to retain your existing mobile number when you change mobile service providers.