On the latest panic
So the latest panic seems to be over although, as one of my journalists says, 'Cable and Wireless Communications is a communications company which can't even communicate with itself'. This is rather unfair, as all large companies have terrible problems with putting their beans in a row, but it would seem that a piece of information from CWC, corroborated four times, can still be wrong.

There was a truly spectacular outburst when the 24 September news item appeared; my ICQ panel lit up like a Christmas tree, people began soliciting money for a legal challenge, a collection for my carriage clock was talked about (I had previously commented that, once the Videotron issue is resolved, Cable and Wireless Watch will probably close), news and mailing list postings and emails flew back and forth, the phone started ringing, journalists popped up from nowhere, and I was up until the early hours holding back the deluge. Campaigning, like Guinness, is good for you; I had been feeling unwell for a few days but became recovered in adversity!

Doubts started to creep in at about 1.30am this morning. I realised things didn't quite fit together and wondered out loud, 'Why now?'.

After all, broadband services, seemingly unmetered, are not far off. CWC would be crazy to chase away several thousand people who are used to unmetered telecommunications - a rare group in this country - have built up formidable expertise, and are generally remarkably knowledgeable and helpful, spending hours of their time unpaid to share what they know.

If CWC were to take these people on board, a huge load would be taken off their customer service and technical people when the broadband services start. By coincidence, I was anonymously sent what was obviously a high-powered business briefing the previous day: this described billing and customer services as CWC's 'Achilles heel' ...

I wrote to CWC a couple of weeks ago along these lines. Predictably, there has been no response, but I trust that the point will get across.

En passant the news was most unfortunately timed; the EU has become worried about IT skills shortages in Europe and has courted, among others, Intel. One suggestion resulting from this is that EU telecommunications charges be cut by over 80% to match US levels ...
Text by Alastair Scott

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