From Accounts Manager, Karen Flattery

Kia ora koutou

Regarding Playcentre’s move to Spark as our preferred telecommunications provider, I want to thank you all for your feedback, which has been read and analysed.  Every email will be responded to personally over the next few days.  Please be patient – if I haven’t responded to you yet, I promise I will.  We really appreciate all the valid points you have all raised and are using the information to update our FAQs on the Playcentre website.

There appear to be two main areas of concern – one being the migration away from copper line services to a cellular network and the other being the data limit of 2GB per centre per month.

Unlimited mobile data

I am pleased to be able to tell you that Sean has agreed all Centres will have unlimited mobile data until 31/12/20.  During this time we will monitor usage through our online portal so we can get a better understanding of your monthly data usage and then decide on a fair and reasonable cap based on actual usage and number of sessions held in each Centre.  We feel it would be fairer to analyse the data going forward rather than looking back (as we did previously) because the usage during April and May this year was lower than normal due to the Centres closing down during the COVID lockdown.  So please continue using your internet as normal so we can gather accurate data over the next few months.

We also take on board your feedback that we should have consulted with Centres on the migration.  While we can’t consult with 400+ Centres, we agree that we could have asked a selection of Centres for their input – we apologise and want to rectify this.  Once we’ve done our analysis at the end of the year on actual usage, we will invite two Centres from each Region (chosen randomly) to be part of a working group to decide on data caps for each Centre going forward.

Migration of internet services

Regarding the other area of concern – the migration of your internet services.  Over the next few years, beginning this year, copper line services in New Zealand are being phased out and all current copper line users will have to move to a new form of internet service.  Knowing this and in consultation over the last few months with both Vocus and Spark we concluded that moving to a hot-spotting option for our Centres will be the simplest option.  Going with other options, for example fibre, would mean involving third parties like Chorus to dig trenches and deal with other technical issues – this historically has slowed down the provision of internet to Centres as the providers need people on site when they are performing these jobs and our Centres are not open or contactable all the time.

Portable hotspot taps into 3G and/or 4G cellular networks from your smartphone. Once it’s connected to a cellular data connection, a mobile hotspot can share that connection via Wi-Fi with nearby laptops, tablets, printers, or anything that can connect to a Wi-Fi network.  You will still be able to do all the things you have been using internet for wirelessly up until now, including printing.  A mobile hotspot can support 10 devices at a time so you will need to manage this and prioritise Playcentre usage over other usage. You set up a connection to it the same as you would when connecting to a modem.

If your centre is in a coverage dead zone or your community experiences issues with connectivity, please communicate with your RM as soon as possible as Spark have assured us they have solutions in place to deal with this and we will need to make sure that your Centre is highlighted as having a potential issue.  We are aware that this option may not work for some of our centres in which case Spark will look at alternatives that will work for you.  If you think you are one of those Centres please advise your Regional Manager as soon as possible.

Thank you again for your valuable feedback.  Hopefully, this update has addressed many of your queries.  However,  please email [email protected] if you have any further queries.

Ngā mihi nui
Karen