Telkom drives ‘compulsory’ copper to fibre switch

Admire Moyo
By Admire Moyo, ITWeb's news editor.
Johannesburg, 22 Jul 2020

Telkom is transitioning its customers from copper-based Internet, to new-generation fibre technology in all fibre-ready regions across South Africa.

This as the company is seeing a sharp decline in its traditional fixed voice revenue. In its financial results last month, Telkom said group revenue grew 3% to R43 billion despite a 22.2% decline in fixed voice revenue.

“Telkom has enjoyed the benefits of copper over the last 30 years. It has served us well. Now, we are investing in technology that will power Telkom for the next 30 years,” said Telkom group CEO Sipho Maseko during the results presentation.

Althon Beukes, newly-appointed Telkom unit Openserve CEO, also recently told ITWeb that copper cable thieves and vandals are using the cover of the nationwide COVID-19 lockdown to target the company’s infrastructure.

He also pointed out that over the last five years, the firm has spent more than R1.5 billion on theft prevention and network rehabilitation efforts.

The telecommunications provider this morning, in a statement, said it is hard at work upgrading its customers from copper ADSL Internet, to fibre-based Internet.

According to the telco, this migration applies to all customers residing in fibre-ready regions around the country where the current DSL infrastructure overlaps with the FTTH footprint.

Telkom notes fibre promises a significant improvement in users’ connectivity experience and assures customers they will receive the support they need to undergo the upgrade with minimal stress and disruption.

“With technology advancing so rapidly, we want to help keep our customers up to date and ensure they are making the most of what’s available,” says Steven White, executive for product development and management at Telkom.

According to the telco, the reality is that fibre-based Internet promises users several benefits over its copper alternative.

First and foremost, it says, customers will enjoy faster Internet upload and download speeds, a more stable Internet connection, and reduced downtime.

It adds the latter advantage is due to the fact that fibre infrastructure is not at risk of cable theft, a problem that has plagued DSL users for a very long time.

“There has always been a high demand for fast, reliable Internet. In current times, and in relation to the COVID-19 pandemic with so many people working from home and just spending more time at home in general, this demand is higher than ever before,” White says.

Telkom agents are contacting customers directly to inform them regarding what to expect from the upgrade and when, the company notes, adding that all representatives insist there is no need to panic about a sudden “cut-off”.

“Customers can rest assured Telkom won’t leave them in the lurch. While the move away from copper-based Internet is compulsory, we are here to work with customers to find an alternative connectivity solution that best suits their needs.

“If they aren’t on board with fibre, there are many other options available to choose from, such as wireless LTE and Fixed-Line Lookalike,” says White.

The company points out the switch from copper to fibre is part of a long-term strategy developed by Telkom to optimise user experience and reduce the cost of maintenance.

Therefore, it says, although it will follow a gradual progression, the overall strategic objective is to decommission and replace old copper technology with fibre entirely.

“We want all those affected to know we are waiving the cost of installation. So, essentially, customers can benefit from an incredible upgrade without having to pay a cent in the process. The only cost involved will be the monthly cost of the new Internet package that each user selects,” comments White.

Telkom urges customers who have concerns regarding the transition to get in touch with an agent for further information and for details regarding fibre, how it works and why it is superior.

“Fibre is a big part of the future-focused technology that will empower and uplift communities across South Africa, especially when it comes to aiding individuals and businesses in overcoming some of the many challenges inflicted by COVID. Telkom is moving forward, and we are very excited for our customers to join us,” White concludes.