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Telecom dials up changes

TOM PULLAR-STRECKER
Last updated 15:56 27/05/2014

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Telecom has completed the first $70 million stage of a project to overhaul its information technology systems.

Spokesman Richard Llewellyn said the investment had laid the foundations for Telecom to offer customers more online self-service options.

Though the bulk of the initial work was "plumbing" and many of the benefits might not be immediately visible, mobile customers could now check their calling, text and data usage through an application and online and see a breakdown of their costs.

Telecom's online store now let people buy multiple services in a single visit, he said.

Llewellyn said Telecom envisaged there would be three stages to the programme, which the company estimated last year would cost $150m to $200m.

Chief executive Simon Moutter said the initial two-year project had been completed on time and within budget.

He said the company was "well on track" to meet its annual guidance of adjusted earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation of $925m to $945m. That figure excludes the proceeds of the sale of Australian business AAPT and rebranding costs.

Telecom expects to spend about $20m changing its name to Spark in August.

Telecom shares are trading near an annual high, having regained the ground this year they lost when Moutter issued a downbeat and value-deflating presentation to analysts last May.

The first phase of the technology overhaul involved changes to 120 IT systems and took the equivalent of 430 "person-years" to complete.

The next stage would be completed by June 2015 and would mostly benefit post-paid mobile users, Moutter said.

Rival Vodafone is promising to "change the way New Zealanders use their mobile devices".

There is speculation that the company may tomorrow follow its sister companies in Europe and Australia by announcing customers will be able to use their domestic allocations of calling minutes, text and data when "roaming" overseas for a fixed surcharge of a few dollars a day.

Spokesman Brad Pogson would not confirm that.

Telecom spokeswoman Lucy Fullarton said it had no major changes to its roaming charges in the wings.

Telecom had seen a 700 per cent rise in data usage by customers travelling overseas since it introduced a flat-rate roaming charge in 2012, she said.

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