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Labour lauds Stephen Fry over Telecom tirade

Published: 10:50AM Monday February 20, 2012 Source: ONE News

Labour says visiting British actor Stephen Fry should be congratulated for his comments on the state of broadband in New Zealand.

Fry, who is in Wellington for filming of The Hobbit, launched into a Twitter tirade on the subject, saying it was "probably the worst" broadband he's encountered.

Fry said over a series of tweets: "Yes, kiwi land is remote, but if Avatar can be made here and (NZ) wants to keep it's rep for being the loveable, easy-going, outdoorsy yet tech savvy
place it is, then pressure @telecomNZ into offering better packages.

"Come on New Zealand. You're world champions at rugby and filmmaking. Pressure the providers to stop being a digital embarrassment."

Labour Communications and IT Spokesperson Clare Curran said Fry was only saying what most people think.

"Unfortunately nothing is likely to change any time soon," she said. "Despite $1.5 billion of taxpayers' money being poured into an ultrafast broadband scheme, the rollout is being undertaken by Telecom, the telco monopoly that was responsible for holding back development in the first place."
"It appears highly likely that the people who will get ultrafast broadband first will be those who are most able to afford it," Clare Curran said.
Prime Minister John Key said in his post-Cabinet press conference he understood the issue for Fry was nothing to do with the network, but his data cap.

"Ill leave it to him to sort out. I'm sure the nice people at Telecom will come and talk to him, or one of the many competitors in New Zealand."

Telecom offered Fry a mobile broadband stick to use during his time here.

Telecom spokesman Mark Watts said the company was trying to understand the issues behind Fry's broadband problems.

"He's clearly unhappy with his experience."

Broadband in this country had improved "immeasurably" in recent years, as a result of investments made by Telecom.

"That doesn't mean from time to time ... you aren't going to get hassles for whatever reason with respect to an individual's broadband experience," Watts said.

When customers - whether a celebrity or "you and me" - were unhappy with their service, Telecom tried to work with them to put it right.

Fry, who has more than 3.9 million Twitter followers, is more complimentary about New Zealand in general and the "deliciously prepared" flat white coffees made here.

- With Fairfax