The slow death of ADSL in South Africa

Telkom has been cutting off ADSL subscribers across South Africa and migrating them to newer technologies.

The company plans to decommission its old copper network over the next five years, and it is slowly switching off services as it moves towards this goal.

ADSL customers who live in areas with fibre and LTE coverage are being contacted and requested to switch from ADSL, with Telkom stopping repairs and cable replacements in many parts of its copper network.

This has led to a steady decline in the number of ADSL customers across the country.

Fibre and LTE Internet packages are therefore growing rapidly, and a number of ISPs, such as Supersonic, offer these services exclusively.

To determine how ADSL adoption is declining, we spoke to several prominent local ISPs about the matter.


Vox told MyBroadband it has seen a steady decline in ADSL users, but it still has an active ADSL subscriber base.

“Vox has seen a decline in ADSL sales over the past few years, however, we still have clients with ADSL that we actively service,” the company said.

“We still sell ADSL if there is no fibre or LTE in a specific area.”

The ISP added that the increase in fibre and LTE subscribers has more than made up for the slow decline of ADSL users.

“Fibre leads the way in terms of subscriptions over LTE, however, the two have indeed compensated for the attrition of DSL subscribers – both fibre and LTE are growing rapidly.”

Vox Telecom green logo


RSAWEB said it has seen a dramatic increase in fibre sign-ups over the last year.

“However, it is hard to say whether this is because people are more educated about fibre/LTE or because fibre has rolled out to more areas increasing availability,” the company said.

“The same could be said of LTE; where before there were only one or two dominant players in this space, there are now multiple offerings.”

The ISP added that Telkom’s discontinuation of ADSL has increased the adoption of newer technologies.

“As Telkom has also stopped promoting their DSL offerings and discontinuing the product in areas where there is a fibre overlap, this also encouraged people who were previously comfortable with the ADSL to reconsider their options.”


Supersonic MD Calvin Collet told MyBroadband that the migration of ADSL customers has made for a very interesting year.

“Yes, 2019 has delivered some interesting events in the telecoms space – not only among FNOs and ISPs (Fibre Network Operators and Internet Service Providers), but with the news about moving away from ADSL technologies and even mobile networks switching off their services,” Collet said.

“Access to the Internet will become even more of a challenge in 2020, with consumers needing to find alternative Internet resources.”

He said that Supersonic has seen a steady increase in its LTE sign-ups and is conducting pilot activities to improve adoption in outlying areas.



When asked whether it has seen a decline in the number of ADSL sign-ups it receives, MWEB said that it had noted lower adoption of the older technology.

“Yes, especially since Telkom announced in the press that they were not replacing and are in fact removing ADSL infrastructure,” said MWEB.

The company added that this has been negated by an increase in sign-ups for newer technologies like fibre and LTE.



Cybersmart CTO Laurie Fialkov told MyBroadband there has been a decline in sign-ups for ADSL packages.

“This is not helped by Telkom not replacing copper and saying they are phasing it out,” Fialkov said.

However, he added that this has been offset by customers signing up for newer technologies such as fibre and LTE.

“Overall, there is an increase in customers,” Fialkov said.

Now read: 10Mbps uncapped Internet prices in South Africa – 2012 vs 2020

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The slow death of ADSL in South Africa