Slow death of Telkom ADSL

Telkom has released its financial results for the first half of its financial year, which showed its fixed broadband subscribers have declined by 11.8% since last year.

From 1 April to 30 September 2021, fixed broadband subscribers on Openserve’s copper and fibre networks declined from 605,807 to 562,552.

Telkom’s overall fixed access line subscriber numbers look even worse, declining nearly 22% year on year.

In the past six months, fixed-line customers declined from 1.28 million to 1.12 million.

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

Considering internal lines and subtracting its fibre customers, it is clear Telkom is rapidly losing DSL subscribers.

This is despite the recent introduction of naked DSL and substantial price cuts from Openserve—Telkom’s wholesale and networks division.

According to Telkom, the decline of its fixed-line business is due to customers migrating to new technologies such as fibre and LTE.

However, analysts have said that much of Telkom’s decline in the fixed-line space is attributable to increased competition.

Companies like Vumatel, Octotel, Frogfoot, and Metrofibre are eating Telkom’s lunch.

Vumatel, in particular, has grown from nothing in 2014 to South Africa’s largest last-mile fibre access player.

Revenues for Telkom’s fixed-line business declined by 9.5% despite losing nearly 22% of its subscribers.

Telkom also said that it had seen a significant slowdown in the rate of revenue decline compared to the 18.2% reported last year.

“The stability in the fixed-line business is attributable to a slowdown in fixed voice churn and an increase in usage, due to improved economic activity in the period compared to the prior period when South Africa was in lockdown level 5,” Telkom stated.

Telkom fixed-line subscribers — March 1993 to September 2021

The following chart shows how Telkom fixed-line subscribers peaked in March 2000 and have steadily declined since then.

Telkom fixed-line subscribers: March 1993 – September 2021 (Click to enlarge)

Telkom fixed broadband subscribers — March 2003 to September 2021

The following chart shows how Telkom fixed broadband subscribers peaked in September 2015, slowly declined until September 2018, and then plummeted over the past three years.

Telkom fixed broadband subscribers: March 2003 – September 2021 (Click to enlarge)

Telkom DSL vs FTTH subscribers — March 2003 to September 2021

The following chart shows how Telkom DSL subscribers mirrored its fixed broadband subscriber numbers.

DSL subscribers peaked in March 2016, declined steadily until September 2018, and then plummeted.

It also shows that Telkom has been adding fibre-to-the-home subscribers slower than it has been losing DSL subscribers.

Telkom previously announced that it reached an inflection point where the number of homes on its network connected with fibre surpassed the number of homes connected with copper.

At the end of June 2021, Telkom had connected 306,837 homes with fibre, while 264,186 still used the copper lines for DSL.

Telkom DSL vs fibre broadband subscribers: March 2003 – September 2021 (Click to enlarge)

Now read: Mobile business carries Telkom

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Slow death of Telkom ADSL