Telecom offers free Christmas calls

Telecom will offer free nationwide landline calls on Christmas Day to make up for widespread broadband outages that affected up to two thirds of its customers last week.

The faults left hundreds of thousands of customers without internet access for up to 19 hours on Tuesday and Wednesday, less than a fortnight after an unrelated broadband outage late last month.

Telecom said it would offer free landline to landline calls within New Zealand on Christmas Day as a goodwill gesture following the outages.

The free calls will be available to all fixed-line customers, not just those affected by the broadband outages.

Telecom also announced it would establish more than 120 free Wi-Fi hotspots at dozens of popular holiday destinations around New Zealand this

summer, with details to be confirmed this week.

Telecom retail chief executive Chris Quin said the company wanted to show customers it understood how frustrating the outages had been.

"This is our way of saying 'we're sorry, we know how important it is to you to stay connected, and we want to make it that much easier for you to connect with family and friends this Christmas'.''

Mr Quin said it was a meaningful gesture for home broadband customers, all of whom had a Telecom fixed line phone service as well.

The free Wi-Fi holiday hotspots had been planned before the outages, but Telecom said it wanted to inform broadband customers because those planning to be away from home on Christmas Day might not be able to take advantage of the free calling.

For business customers who were particularly affected by the outages, Mr Quin said Telecom had well-established processes for dealing with customer concerns on a case-by-case basis.

He said the company had undertaken a thorough technical review of what went wrong, and was confident the same problems would not recur.

"These outages reinforced just how critical a consistent broadband service is for our customers. We are totally committed to regaining their full confidence.

"Telecom has invested significantly over recent years in our core network to ensure its capacity and quality. So as you can imagine we are extremely disappointed - as we know our customers are - with the recent problems and we are determined to prevent them happening again.''

Mr Quin said internet service was down or "materially degraded'' for about 19 hours over two days, with two-thirds of the downtime in the early hours between midnight and 6am.

The main fault occurred during a software upgrade on a broadband server on Tuesday morning. Flow-on issues affected the network from later that night until about 10am the next day.

Last month, the company ruled out compensation after an unrelated fault with a fibre-optic cable left about 25,000 mainly residential customers without broadband.

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