Posts in category guernsey - page 8

British Airways and the art of delivering bad news

Breaking bad news to clients is always tricky but a bit of intelligence might be able to soften the blow. A few days ago British Airways sent me an email to let me know that the Gatwick-Munich route I use (indeed their only route I’ve used lately) is to be axed from the start of the 2006 summer season.

While this is incredibly annoying at least I know about it. In the next paragraph they try to soften the blow by letting me know that there are going to be additional flights from Heathrow. intelligence fails them however because I don’t have access to Heathrow and their database already knows this.

The result isn’t a softened blow but rather a reminder on how Channel Islanders are Heathrow-less since BA purchased Guernsey’s slots at Heathrow airport from KLM subsidiary Air UK back in 1998 for a reported £14.5m. Our government fought the loss of a vital route – and lost.

The fact I could get to Gatwick at all is no thanks to BA either. They purchased regional operator Cityflyer and their Guernsey-Gatwick route back in 1988 too.

Fresh from the Heathrow wound our government raised valid concerns with the appropriate regulatory group that they believed BA would sell off the Guernsey-Gatwick slots or use them for non-Guernsey routes. Cityflyer assured us that would not be the case and the deal went ahead.

BA did of course suspended this route a few years later claiming the aircraft needed to be retired. I don’t know what happened to the slots but I can only guess.

Is it any wonder that our government decided to purchase one of the two airlines that services Guernsey to make sure it carries on? Personally I would rather have seen the government purchase slots at the essential airports and sub-lease them to the airlines, perhaps with a little subsidy but hey I’m not a politician.

I’m trying to be a traveller.

[)amien

Apple to the Channel Islands – Get lost

Last week I was at the Apple Store UK ordering a universal dock connector for my iPod. Unexpectedly the the shipping address was not accepted – it claimed they were unable to accept orders from my post-code.

This was a strange turn of events – I’ve ordered a PowerBook G4, iLife, Apple Pro Keyboard, 20GB iPod and various other accessories in the past. I’ve not changed address or post-code for over a year so what’s the problem?

One telephone call and 6 Apple staff later I’m finally told they are no longer delivering to the Channel Islands. Apparently this is a new policy introduced in the last few weeks, perhaps I missed the big announcement or maybe they kept it quiet. They couldn’t tell me the reasoning why or just where I should now take my business.

Luckily for us here in Guernsey we have a local Apple authorized dealer called Guernsey Computers and their prices are quite reasonable. About an extra 5% on top of the non-VAT Apple Store prices. Our friends in Jersey aren’t so lucky and 20%+ is quite common – in fact the “Technology Store” here in Guernsey tends to put this sort of mark-up on their Apple goods too.

This does of course mean no more engraved iPods, no more education store or refurbished store pricing.

I guess the success of Apple’s iPod means they can just tell customers in minority regions to get lost.

Never mind the fact some were helping keep them afloat before they hit the iPod goldmine.

[)amien

State of the broadband

A few changes from the various players so a quick run-down.

While local ISPs could argue their bandwidth is limited they have no such excuse for charging 3x the price of a UK outfit for IP addresses as Newtel are doing in both islands.

Jersey Telecom

Announced broadband price reductions which affect their 512KB, 1MB and 2MB home services. Interesting to note that the contention ratio has gone up from 40:1 to 50:1.

  • 512KB @ £17.99
  • 1MB @ £24.99
  • 2MB @ £39.99

Newtel Solutions Jersey

No announcements yet on price reductions to follow JT but I’d be surprised if they don’t act soon. They have however dropped connection charges and are offering fixed IP’s for £15.99 a month.

  • 512KB @ £24.49 (£23.50 if paid annually)
  • 1MB @ £39.99 (£38.50 if paid annually)
  • 2MB @ £79.99 (£77.00 if paid annually)

C&W Guernsey

Put out a new broadband “Pay-as-You-Go” package that includes 500 minutes. After that it is 3p/minute until you reach the maximum monthly charge of £34.99. Still at 40:1 contention as far as I know, actual product guide has not been updated and still claims 512K alongside the contention. Still no announced plans to offer fixed IPs or 512KB/2MB services.

  • 1MB @ £26.99
  • 1MB “Pay-as-You-Go” @ £19.99-£34.99 (includes 500 minutes)

There has been debate over C&W’s offerings on the This Is Guernsey Forum. The C&W Gsy marketing manager Steve Eldrich addressed some of them.

Guernsey.Net/Newtel

Followed C&W Gsy with the double the bandwidth but are not quoting contention ratios for their home service anywhere I could find. Unlike C&W they are offering a fixed IP address at an extra whopping £15.99 a month. They are offering free install and rental until 1st January 2005.

  • 1MB @ £25.99 (£24.50 if paid annually)

Bulldog (C&W UK)

Prices have come down again with the 8MB unlimited package costing now a mere £29.50. They are also offering a fixed IP address for £4.99 a month.

  • 8MB @ £29.50

All the prices are per-month in GBP and do not include the additional monthly charge for a phone line and are unlimited usage unless specified.

[)amien

TV in the Channel Islands

I’ve been thinking of giving TV another shot, especially if I can get a lot of free channels and PVR functionality with no subscription. I’ve been looking about at the current state of television out here:

Analogue terrestrial (normal TV, UHF)

Free but a mere four channels and no apparent plans to give us even channel Five.

Digital terrestrial (Freeview, DVB-T)

Freeview as it is branded in the UK promises some 30+ channels over your existing TV aerial for just the price of a receiver box or even PC card like the Nova-T with built-in PVR functionality. You even get E4, UKTV, Sky Travel and Sky Sports News which are not available for free elsewhere.

Not yet available in the Channel Islands because the frequencies conflict with ones used by the French. This will have to be sorted out by the 2012 analogue cut-off but there seems to be little progress thus far.

Cable

Cable TV is available in selected parts of Jersey but not in Guernsey and starts at £28.50 a month.

Satellite (DVB-S)

This can get complex, but basically there are three types of channel on satellite

Free to Air (FTA)

An impressive number of channels are entirely free and have no encryption so can be picked up by any satellite box or even a PC card such as the Nova-S+. There are a LOT of channels available but not yet ITV, ITV2, Channel 4 or Five.

ITV plans to follow the BBC onto the Astra 2D UK-focused satellite which will mean they too can drop the pesky encryption that they needed to prevent their content being watched outside the UK. Hopefully Channel 4 will follow soon.

These channels are free but encrypted with Sky’s own technology.

Sky will sell you the complete package of hardware and card for £150 or alternatively you can buy just the card for £20 if you have an old Sky Digibox kicking round.

The real problem here however is because they refuse to license their encryption technology to anyone else you can not use a third-party box or PVR, even Sky+ requires a subscription.

Subscription/pay (Sky etc.)

Sky obviously will be happy to take your money for their somewhat expensive packages but it is a 12-month commitment and you can expect regular annoying phone calls and mail-shots if you ever cancel.

Again the problem here is because they won’t license their encryption you are stuck with the Sky box and while Sky+ is a nice system they expect a whopping £10 a month to use it unless you subscribe to a movie or sports package.

I’m going with the Nova-S+ if I can get hold of one, that will be sitting inside my Shuttle box that sits quietly in my lounge acting as my server :)

[)amien