Telkom is progressing with its plans to decommission its copper network, with CEO Sipho Maseko recently confirming that the company aims to exit the copper segment entirely in the next five years.
This means that Telkom is looking to move to newer technologies, which would help the company save on legacy network maintenance and the cost to replace stolen cables.
Telkom has paired this plan with an aggressive migration strategy. The company began by announcing the closure of its prepaid fixed-line voice services and has quickly moved on to migrating users on more popular products.
The company is actively contacting subscribers in an effort to migrate them from ADSL onto fibre or fixed-LTE, and it previously stated that it plans to complete the migration of ADSL customers in fibre-covered areas by the end of September 2019.
MyBroadband asked Telkom whether it thought it would meet this goal, but the company did not provide an exact date for its migration completion, stating only that it was progressing well.
“Telkom has made good progress with the DSL to fibre migrations over the past two months,” the company told MyBroadband.
“There are still a few Telkom ISP customers whom we haven’t been able to make contact with, but we’re confident the transition will be smooth.”
Still selling ADSL
Despite its mandate to migrate from copper-based broadband and voice services, Telkom is still selling DSL products to customers.
The company confirmed to MyBroadband that it still offers ADSL and VDSL, and it still includes these packages on its online store.
Fibre has become a better and cheaper option than ADSL across the board, and where a customer has both technologies available, it is reasonable to assume that Telkom suggests fibre broadband packages over ADSL-based offerings.
The necessity to still sell ADSL – despite aiming to decommission the technology – could be a means of catering to rural customers in areas where neither fibre or Telkom LTE coverage exists.
The only available broadband technology in these areas would be ADSL (or another network’s LTE offering), leaving Telkom with only one technology to offer.
Customers could eventually see Telkom stop offering ADSL altogether once the company exits copper entirely, however.
Telkom is actively contacting its ADSL customers to offer them comparable products on newer technologies, and in many cases, these offers are cheaper or include better speeds and data capacities than the customer’s current package.
There are problems with moving customers onto LTE and fibre, however, including the potential for customers to switch to other ISPs on other networks.
Some customers have also reported problems after being migrated to LTE from ADSL, as Telkom’s network does not provide great coverage outside of major urban areas.
One Telkom ADSL customer in Ladysmith, KwaZulu-Natal told MyBroadband that they were offered an LTE replacement for their ADSL line, but after this was implemented, there was no Internet connection available through their LTE router.
For Telkom to exit its copper network entirely, it will need to ensure that most of its customers are covered by some form of replacement infrastructure, whether it is LTE or fibre.
There will always be a number of customers left without service, but Telkom has said it will do its best to contact customers and ask them to migrate to newer packages before closing down their packages.