Concern over imminent ADSL shutdown in South Africa – What you need to know

Telkom’s wholesale division Openserve recently notified ISPs that it would terminate DSL and copper services in areas which were already covered by its fibre network.

“We will be upgrading all copper broadband services to fibre broadband services in areas where Openserve Fibre Connect (OFC) is already available,” Openserve told ISPs.

“To this end, we will therefore also be discontinuing all existing DSL and Openserve Copper Connect (OCC) services in these areas.”

The company said this move was part of its continued drive to upgrade services to next-generation technologies and reduce infrastructure duplication.

Openserve assured ISPs that in instances where there was still an open order for fibre for the customer, it would not terminate DSL connections.

In order to keep providing Internet connectivity, ISPs who still offer ADSL services in the affected areas will have to migrate their customer bases to fibre before 1 September 2020.

Telkom recently issued a statement telling customers “not to panic” over the shutdown of ADSL connections in fibre-lit areas.

“Telkom agents are contacting customers directly to inform them regarding what to expect from the upgrade, and when.”

“All representatives insist that there is no need to panic about a sudden ‘cut-off’,” Telkom said.

There is some concern over the short notice provided to customers regarding this migration, however, as in certain cases, fibre installation teams may take longer than this to install the required infrastructure.

Other concerns include the requirement to change infrastructure during a period where social distancing is encouraged and customers who may not be happy with installers entering their homes.

MyBroadband asked major South African ISPs about the timeline of this migration process, how many customers they would have to move, and what customers can expect to pay for their new services compared to ADSL.


MWEB

MWEB confirmed that it received a notification of the termination of ADSL services and that customers would need to move to Openserve fibre products to avoid loss of connectivity, but that it was worried about the short notice period given.

“MWEB is deeply concerned that Openserve is enforcing this change at this time, giving ISPs and customers only two months to change over and doing this during the COVID-19 national crisis, where social distancing is encouraged and customers are concerned about having installers in their homes,” MWEB said.

“We are currently engaging with affected customers and will assist them to move,” MWEB added.

It said Openserve provided MWEB with a list of affected all-inclusive customers, and that it was in the process of identifying data-only customers by affected suburbs.

For the migration of customers, it said it was following the standard Openserve fibre application process, which could take 7 to 10 working days, with some customers up and running in two workdays.

MWEB said Openserve’s lowest fibre line speed of 10Mbps was cheaper than the equivalent ADSL package.


RSAWEB

RSAWEB said it was working closely with Openserve to identify affected DSL customers and switch them over to fibre with minimal impact.

“Fortunately, we have been switching customers from DSL to fibre where possible as an ongoing strategy. For this reason, the impact on our customer base is minimal,” RSAWEB said.

It said customers will find the migration process is seamless – the customer simply places an order for Openserve fibre with RSAWEB and a zero-rated installation will be scheduled.

“Once the fibre goes live, the ADSL is cancelled. The customer experiences no down-time,” RSAWEB noted.

RSAWEB said its DSL and fibre pricing was “more or less on par”.

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Vox

Vox said Openserve had already notified the ISP of its plans to discontinue DSL in its fibre footprint on 18 June.

As such, Vox is busy communicating with customers in the affected areas, of which there is a “substantial amount”.

“Customers will need to sign up on one of our available FTTH service offerings (Openserve or other FNOs) on our website vox.co.za,” Vox stated.

It said installation times range from one to four weeks depending on what infrastructure needed to be put into place.

Vox currently runs a free installation promotion, so customers don’t have to worry about additional costs, it added.

With regards to monthly costs, Vox said fibre prices are very similar to Openserve’s Pure DSL, which no longer requires the R210 landline rental fee.

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Webafrica

Webafrica said that “a few thousand” of its DSL customers would have to be migrated to fibre.

“We already cater for a seamless transition from ADSL to fibre in our Customer Zone – a click of a button and your order is placed in under two minutes – while double billing of services is completely avoided,” Webafrica said.

There are no installation costs involved and Webafrica provides a free-to-use fibre router.

“They’ll end up paying less as our fibre pricing starts at R399 per month for a 10Mbps Uncapped package on Openserve,” Webafrica said.

It noted customers can expect to be up and running on Openserve fibre within 7 days from the placement of their order.

Additionally, customers who wish to keep their fixed landline number can port this number for free and use Webafrica’s VoIP service instead.

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Now read: South Africa’s best and worst ISPs during lockdown

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Concern over imminent ADSL shutdown in South Africa – What you need to know