SMME Forum attacks MyADSL, Calls ISPA ‘Wimps’

The SMME Forum has aggressively attacked various organizations in a press release, saying that the criticism voiced at Telkom in a recent media report is unjustified.

“The SMME Forum is acutely perturbed by the unrelenting and downright unjustified attacks on Telkom in this week’s Mail & Guardian newspaper by a coterie of critics such as the Internet Solutions (IS), Internet Service Providers Association (ISPA), Freedom of Expression Institute (FXI) and Genesis Analytics,” said the SMME forum.

The press release went on to aggressively attack organizations like MyADSL, Internet Service Providers Association (ISPA), Genesis Analytics and the Freedom of Expression Institute (FXI). 

The SMME Forum said that “ISPA is patently known for its anti-transformation stance” and that “[ISPA] is the only organisation known to unashamedly disrespect and ridicule elected leaders in our government whilst at the same time soliciting their support and sympathy in their nefarious agenda.”

The Forum continued to attack ISPA, saying that the telecoms industry does not need “wimps such as some found in ISPA”, and “If ISPA and others cannot stand the heat in the kitchen, they should know better what to do!”

The SMME Forum then moved its attention to MyADSL, calling it a “lecture-room-based entity that is only concerned about the plight of the privileged few”. It continued to say that “MyADSL and ISPA continue to be as irrelevant to the majority of the underprivileged as they ever have been”.

Rudolph Muller, founder of MyADSL, says he is surprised by the SMME Forum’s comments, especially seen that MyADSL has always fought for more affordable ADSL services, specifically aimed at making it accessible to a wider portion of the population. 

The SMME Forum also attacked Genesis Analytics, saying they “should confine its comments and advice on issues that affect its Melrose Arch confines from where it seems to launch its scud missiles at Telkom from a position of opulence ostensibly on behalf of the underprivileged and poor communities.”

The SMME forum and its president, Tebogo Khaas, were very critical of Telkom only a few months ago, saying that the monopoly is denying SMME’s in previously neglected areas access to telephony services and specifically broadband. 

At a recent broadband presentation Khaas even poked fun at Telkom, saying that their slogan should change from “Touch Tomorrow” to the Afrikaans “More is nog n dag” [Tommorow is another day].

At this event Khaas also criticized Government and Telkom for their lack of action concerning SMME’s, and questioned whose interests they have at heart. 

He called Telkom’s ability to act as both a wholesaler and retailer anti-competitive, something both ISPA and Internet Solutions have reiterated and are currently trying to address. 

This latest press release from the SMME Forum marks a tremendous turnaround in the previous criticism lodged against Telkom. 

There is speculation that this latest endorsement of Telkom and the attack on its critics by the Forum may be related to Tebogo Khaas’ interest in acquiring 30% voting shares in Swiftnet, a subsidiary of Telkom. 

An ITWeb article last week revealed that a “black economic empowerment (BEE) consortium of small and medium enterprises (SMEs), led by Digital IQ [with CEO Tebogo Khaas], has lodged an expression of interest to bid for 30% voting shares in Swiftnet, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Telkom”.

Telkom Support

The SMME Forum has given Telkom its support, saying that “The SMME Forum fully endorses Telkom in its strides and views the innovative packages it has introduced as a step in the right direction.”

“Certainly poor people have given Telkom a resounding stamp of approval for its latest bouquet of services and products. Demand for Telkom Closer and Supreme Call packages seem to be extremely buoyant – and we wish for this to continue,” the statement said.

It is however interesting to note that a large portion of ‘poor people’ in South Africa are using Telkom’s PrepaidFone service which excludes offerings like Telkom Closer.

Whilst Khaas applauds Telkom for their efforts to connect the poor the reality is that the incumbent still has to account for the large amount of fixed lines that were installed and then disconnected and their exorbitant ADSL prices.

The full press release is available here:

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SMME Forum attacks MyADSL, Calls ISPA ‘Wimps’