The slow death of ADSL in South Africa

Telkom’s latest financial results show that its fixed broadband subscribers have declined by 2.2% year-on-year.

Fixed-broadband subscriber numbers dropped from 1,003,521 in March 2017 to 981,176 in March 2018.

While Telkom has lost fixed-line customers since 2001, its fixed broadband subscriber numbers only started declining from September 2016.

Taking into account internal lines and clients taking up Telkom fibre connections, it is clear the company is losing DSL subscribers.

Telkom has added thousands of fibre home and business customers over the same period, but its overall fixed-line subscriber base continues to decline.

This means new fibre clients do not make up for the loss of DSL subscribers, and strongly suggests Telkom is losing clients to fibre competitors.

The company has stepped up to the challenge, however, increasing the number of connected Openserve home fibre lines by 175.8% to 109,336, compared to the previous year.

Its fibre network now passes 356,684 homes, a 62.3% increase over the previous year.

DSL migration

Telkom stopped reporting its DSL subscribers as a separate category in March 2016, and started listing total non-mobile broadband subscribers in its results.

It still provided separate figures for fibre customers, however, allowing DSL subscriber numbers to be calculated.

The graphs below illustrate the decline in Telkom fixed-line subscribers since 2001, and how Telkom’s fixed-broadband subscribers have declined since September 2016.

It also shows how Telkom’s fibre subscriber base compares to the number of DSL subscribers.


Telkom fixed-line subscribers: 1993–2018

Telkom annual results 2018 fixed access lines


Telkom fixed-broadband subscribers: 2003–2017

Telkom annual results 2018 fixed broadband subs


Telkom DSL and Fibre subscribers: 2003–2017

Telkom annual results 2018 ADSL and FTTH subs


Now read: Telkom ADSL vs Fibre vs LTE subscribers – 2016 to 2018

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The slow death of ADSL in South Africa