Truth behind Telkom ADSL mess

ADSL subscribers from all over South Africa, using many different Internet service providers, have been complaining about poor performance on their connections for weeks.

Internet service providers (ISPs), when queried about the issues, pointed to delays in receiving additional wholesale ADSL (IP Connect) capacity, and problems caused by the free ADSL speed increase implemented by Telkom.

Congested exchanges also continue to be a problem for ISPs.

“Growth in traffic can lead to poor performance if the last mile infrastructure was upgraded and the backhaul network from the aggregation point to the core was not upgraded enough to cater for this,” Greg Montjoie, executive for carrier and connectivity at Internet Solutions told MyBroadband.

Cybersmart CEO Laurie Fialkov agreed with this assessment. “It seems the ADSL circuits have been upgraded but bandwidth from the exchange has not,” he said.

Fialkov said that they’ve received a number of complaints of slow speeds that turned out to be caused by a congested exchange.

What is curious, Fialkov said, is that some exchanges are completely fine during the business day, when he sees the greatest load on his IP Connect (IPC) capacity.

In the evenings, during what he calls “Netflix time” (19:00 – 23:00), many residential exchanges become completely saturated.

“I guess this is a function of residential online streaming, and night time usage was not considered at all,” Fialkov said.

Laurie Fialkov
Laurie Fialkov

IP Connect capacity needed

The way in which Telkom implemented its free line speed upgrades also caused them headaches when planning the amount of wholesale ADSL capacity they would need, Fialkov said.

“For instance, the free ADSL speed upgrades from 1Mbps to 2Mbps that weren’t supposed to start in December, started in December,” Fialkov said.

He said that not knowing how fast the upgrades are being rolled out makes it difficult to order IPC, as it can take up to a month for an upgrade.

“You can’t order with Telkom and then amend it,” Fialkov said. “You have to order, complete the order and then order again.”

If you get it wrong and order too little that means you have an oversold position and you may upset your customers because there is too little bandwidth for the number of users on your network, Fialkov said. Whereas if you buy too much you are in an undersold position and can’t be price competitive.

For their part, Fialkov said that he believes Cybermsart has ordered enough capacity, with their IPC upgrade going through earlier in January 2014.

Telkom Internet IPC problem

It is understood that other ADSL service providers in South Africa are having trouble upgrading their IPC capacity, with Telkom’s own ISP, Telkom Internet, among them.

Asked about whether the IPC problem relates to the poor performance Telkom Internet users have experienced lately, the ISP just told MyBroadband that it had pin-pointed the problem and had put an interim fix in place.

“Telkom Internet’s technical team continues working closely with its international vendors to permanently resolve the fault as expeditiously as possible,” a spokesperson for the ISP said at the time.

Telkom did not respond to further questions by MyBroadband about IPC capacity problems and exchange congestion.

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Truth behind Telkom ADSL mess