MidCentral ponders move from Telecom XT

BY BRONWYN TORRIE AND JESSICA SUTTON
Last updated 12:00 06/03/2010

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Midcentral Health is considering dropping its contract with the Telecom XT network while other major Manawatu organisations are pleased they did not make the move.

The New Zealand Defence Force, Massey University, Palmerston North City Council and UCOL were not on the XT network and told the Manawatu Standard they had no plans to switch.

District health board spokesman Dennis Geddis remained tightlipped when asked about switching to another mobile network provider.

"We're reviewing it and that's all we're saying at this stage."

He would not comment on how many staff had cellphones and what the contract was worth.

In earlier reports, Mr Geddis said no lives had been threatened by the network failures, but the health board had experienced problems.

MidCentral moved to Telecom's XT network at the end of December last year.

Chief executive for Gen-i – a division of the Telecom group – Chris Quinn said each of the DHBs, including MidCentral, had been made an alternative offer.

"If they [DHBs] wanted to we will supply them with a new handset on the the old CDMA network without any cost. MidCentral has not made any moves to do so as of yet."

He said DHBs were comfortable with the XT system as they had other methods of communications, such as pagers.

Telecom announced a $5 million compensation package, after a fault in January affected about 200,000 customers south of Taupo.

The compensation package had risen to $15m by the fourth outage in less than three months.

Mr Quinn said customers in the Manawatu region only felt the impact of the outages on January 27 and February 22.

He said over the next three months work was being done to stabilise the XT network.

Customers can expect to have temporary outages over this period, but Mr Quinn said messages forewarning people would be communicated through the media.

Fairfax reported this week that Hutt Valley and Capital & Coast district health boards had asked to switch to another network, saying the problems with XT were putting patients at risk if on-call doctors could not be contacted.

Capital & Coast would not say how much its 341-phone contract is worth, but Hutt Valley's 49-phone contract is more than $1m.

A Vodafone spokesman said that the company had been "inundated" with customers requesting new products and contracts.

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- Manawatu Standard

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