Telkom will continue to offer copper-based fixed-line services in areas which it deems to be economically viable.
The company’s wholesale broadband division, Openserve, recently launched Pure Connect – a “Naked ADSL” product which does not require customers to pay a landline rental fee for their DSL connection.
“This new product now allows customers to directly obtain the broadband service from their ISPs and they will no longer be required to obtain a copper line from Telkom Retail,” Openserve explained in a statement.
The company stated that a voice line or DSL service from Telkom is no longer a requirement to access the service.
Offering a new ADSL product like Pure Connect may be viewed as an odd move in light of Telkom’s strategy to decommission its copper network.
Telkom CEO Sipho Maseko stated in May 2019 that the operator planned to stop providing copper-based services by 2024.
“We are hoping that in the next five years we would have exited copper entirely,” Maseko said at the time.
He said that Telkom was phasing out copper because maintaining multiple cable network technologies is costly, and expertise on copper networks would dwindle as new technologies continue to grow.
Additionally, the prevalence of copper cable theft and copper cable faults has made it difficult for the company to maintain reliable connectivity to its DSL customers.
Instead of repairing or replacing copper infrastructure, Telkom’s strategy involved switching over its ADSL customers to fibre where it is available and offering fixed-LTE as an alternative where it is not.
Telkom has also seen a rapid decline in fixed-line customers in recent years.
The company’s fixed-line subscriber numbers dropped 23% – from 2.566 million to 1.975 million – between September 2018 and 2019.
MyBroadband asked Openserve to clarify what role Pure Connect and copper will play in the company’s broader broadband strategy.
The company said the COVID-19 pandemic has made it evident there is an immediate and urgent need to provide affordable broadband connectivity to home users.
It stated that in the short term, the expansion of next-generation access such as fibre will not be sufficient to meet this demand.
“Hence our copper-enabled broadband provides a reliable option as we expand our fibre footprint closer to the home,” Openserve stated.
It said it will continue its decommissioning strategy in locations which are not “economically viable”, however.
“In areas where our network continues to provide reliable and affordable connections, we will utilise our existing infrastructure to meet those demands, especially for broadband services,” Openserve stated.
The company said the Pure Connect product will be available to customers in areas with existing broadband infrastructure.