The Internet Service Providers’ Association (ISPA) has hit back at Telkom CEO Sipho Maseko’s comments that Internet service providers (ISPs) are a relic of the past.
Responding to questions about Telkom Internet’s all-access subscriber decline, Maseko said its Internet service provider business has become insignificant.
“The way people consume the Internet now is no longer through an ISP,” Maseko said. “Once they get Wi-Fi connectivity, they don’t need an ISP.”
“The ISP came back as a relic of the past when people did not have email – they did not have all of the things which would essentially be the gateway to break out into the Internet.”
“But now you are able to break out into the Internet using fibre or LTE, or even on your smartphone. You don’t need an ISP to get into the Internet today.”
ISPA told MyBroadband that Maseko’s declaration that ISPs are “a relic of the past” was met with surprise by ISPA’s 190 members and the hundreds of thousands of South Africans receiving Internet access and related services from them.
“ISPA understands that the comments were made in the context of Telkom losing substantial numbers of customers in its fixed ISP business, but suggests that these customers may, in fact, have opted for better, more affordable services from Telkom’s competitors,” ISPA said.
The organisation added that a decline in Telkom’s fixed ISP business was “in any event perhaps inevitable once it was no longer able to force subscribers to take both its voice and ADSL products”.
ISPA added that it is high time that the mobile networks – including Telkom Mobile – recognised that their main business is now being ISPs.
This is both from a legal point of view and in the minds of the millions of South Africans who buy access to the Internet from them.
“This recognition will assist these operators to better understand the Internet Protocol and the role it plays in how consumers get online,” ISPA said.
No comment from Telkom
Telkom was asked for feedback regarding Maseko’s comments, but the company did not respond by the time of publication.