Although ADSL subscribers are switching from copper to fibre and LTE, there is still life in the network.
Telkom’s recent annual results show its fixed-broadband subscriber base has started dwindling, after constant growth from March 2003.
This means the number of fibre subscribers using Openserve’s network and Telkom’s services is not increasing fast enough to match the decline in ADSL.
Even Telkom Group CEO Sipho Maseko said people will “give up good old copper”.
Maseko said they expect fibre-to-the-home to grow rapidly in the future and that it will be a big contributor to the company’s revenue.
Old bones have life in them
The decline in DSL subscribers in South Africa is typically linked to bad user experiences, with congested DSLAMs forcing users to look for alternatives.
This is according to the executive for carrier and connectivity at Internet Solutions, Greg Montjoie.
Despite the decline in subscriber numbers, usage per user is still climbing, he said.
“Internet Solutions has always taken a multi-network and multi-technology approach to our broadband offerings. We are seeing the poor-performing DSL connections – those at the limited end of traditional DSL range or on deteriorating copper – being replaced by alternative connection options.”
“Although there is a perception that DSL is declining, we do feel with the right level of investment in the DSL network and the use of new technologies, there will be life in the DSL network for many years to come.”
These technologies include G.fast, which Openserve will offer on South Africa’s DSL network. G.fast can offer speeds well over 100Mbps on existing copper infrastructure.
Openserve recently conducted trials with Nokia demonstrating aggregate speeds (download and upload) of up to 900Mbps on short copper loops using G.fast.
Speeds of between 500Mbps and 250Mbps were reached on an existing copper line at a distance of 150 metres.
Justin Hovener, senior product manager for mobility solutions at Vox, agreed that DSL has a place in the local market.
“DSL growth is certainly not what it used to be, but as the cheapest and most prolific method of home Internet access, DSL still has a place in the South African market for a few years to come,” said Hovener.