Telkom plans to migrate all customers away from ADSL, and begin shutting down its copper network, in the next five years.
Speaking in an interview with MyBroadband, Telkom CEO Sipho Maseko said the company recently developed a roadmap concerning the proactive migration of customers to newer infrastructure.
“We are hoping that in the next five years we would have exited copper entirely,” Maseko said.
This means that if it is successful with its plan, Telkom’s operational network would primarily comprise mobile, LTE, and fibre technology.
“We are taking a view that data demand will continue to grow, so therefore not only are we migrating customers from copper to new technology, we are actually preparing for the real take-off in data consumption in this country,” Maseko said.
“There will come a time when we switch off the copper technology, because what you also don’t want to do is to maintain two or three different networks at the same time as that drives cost,” Maseko said.
“Then we will get to a point where it’s end-of-life and in essence the customer has to move to a newer technology, because we will also run out of people who would have had the skill to properly maintain the copper network,” he said.
Maseko told MyBroadband that Telkom is encouraging customers to switch to LTE or fibre solutions, and it is focusing on areas where cable faults and other interruptions have been a problem.
“We are targeting areas where we have high levels of fault,” he said. “The more faults we have in a place, we look to replace that with LTE or fibre.”
“That is primarily what has been the driver of the migration, and what it allows us to do is two things: retain the customer while addressing negative experiences, and reduce the cost of maintenance when dealing with faults.”
“We email customers and offer them the same deal on a different technology altogether,” he said.
Using the example of Jeffreys Bay, Maseko said that Telkom had rolled out LTE in this region due to the problem of cable theft and a high fault rate.
“That’s one of the areas where we’ve had high fault rates, and moving everybody there to LTE is the best thing for us to do,” he said.
“But what then happens is it also enables us to stage our coverage deployment in the right way.”
“If Jeffreys Bay gets to the point where they have fully utilised the LTE network and the capacity of the network can’t carry the data, we can then start deploying fibre and offload the traffic,” Maseko added.
He said that Telkom sees 4G or 5G and fibre as complementary solutions which can be deployed depending on bandwidth demands and other factors.