Telkom’s plan to switch off ADSL

Telkom has plans to migrate all of its copper-based services to fibre over time but will continue to sell its DSL services for the foreseeable future.

This is according to a Telkom spokesperson who also told MyBroadband that the company would not disconnect DSL customers in areas where it does not have fibre infrastructure.

“Over time, all copper-based services will eventually be migrated to fibre. Openserve will not switch off copper or disconnect DSL customers where we do not have fibre presence,” the spokesperson said.

“We will only migrate copper customers to fibre where we have fibre.”

Telkom’s comments confirm that it has abandoned its approach of trying to aggressively migrate customers off of DSL to decommission its old copper network.

Previously, the company would be satisfied with migrating customers in an area to fixed wireless services on its cellular network before discontinuing their DSL.

Telkom said its plan was to use its Smart Voice, LTE, and fibre services to replace its copper-based products, adding that it would pull up the cabling to resell it to recover some of the costs related to its copper network.

Recently it launched its Switch campaign that encourages its copper-based customers to migrate to fibre by forgoing migration fees and offering the first month for free.

The promotion is available to Telkom’s Copper Voice and DSL subscribers who wish to migrate to its fibre-to-the-home services.

To qualify, customers must be in an area covered by Telkom’s wholesale and networks division Openserve. The promotion began earlier this month and will run until 10 June.

Telkom CEO Sipho Maseko
Sipho Maseko, former Telkom CEO

Telkom’s approach to shutting down its copper network has been fitful, with it chopping and changing between encouraging customers to migrate and launching new DSL services.

In 2019, then-CEO Sipho Maseko told MyBroadband that Telkom had plans to migrate all its customers away from ADSL and shut down its copper network over five years.

Despite this, the company continued selling ADSL products, likely due to what its spokesperson had said — many areas don’t yet have fibre infrastructure, while they still have DSL-compatible copper lines.

By July 2019, Telkom revealed that it had migrated 96% of its prepaid fixed-line subscribers to its wireless networks, adding that it would disconnect its prepaid copper service the following month.

However, in April 2020, the company launched a product to make its postpaid DSL services more affordable — Naked ADSL.

This significantly impacted the company’s DSL pricing, as subscribers no longer had to pay the R199 phone line rental fee alongside the broadband service.

Naked ADSL’s rollout was not without delays. Maseko had announced plans to drop the line rental in June 2016, but by April 2017, Telkom’s customers were still waiting for the service to launch.

Telkom now appears to have returned to encouraging customers to migrate off of its copper network, but without an aggressive switch-off campaign.

Earlier this year, Telkom’s share price was punished when it reported a drop in revenue — fuelled by poor performance in its fixed-line and enterprise businesses.

Telkom’s fixed-line subscriber base has been slowly dying, with its half-year financial results from 1 April to 30 September showing that it was rapidly losing DSL customers.

Before that, its 2019/20 financial year results showed that its fixed-line business had declined from almost 2.3 million subscribers in March 2019 to 1.6 million subscribers in March 2020 — a drop of nearly 30%.

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Telkom’s plan to switch off ADSL