Telkom 20Mbps, 40Mbps VDSL roll-out reined in

Telkom’s project to replace its existing ADSL infrastructure with multi-service access nodes (MSANs) has been dramatically slowed according to a source with knowledge about the situation.

Part of the problem is slow uptake of very-high-bit-rate digital subscriber line (VDSL) services, the source said.

Rumours also abound that Telkom has faced numerous delays in getting the necessary permission to roll out fibre to its new MSAN street boxes.

A source who wished to remain anonymous due to the sensitivity of the situation has revealed that these rumours are largely unfounded.

However, they said that Telkom has had problems getting municipal power feeds to newly built street boxes.

Pushed back, not scaled down

It is believed that Telkom has not scaled down the project, but has extended its internal deadlines and revised its own (undisclosed) uptake targets.

At this stage the MSAN project is set to finish a year after Telkom originally intended, while it is now eyeing less than half the number of active ports it originally aimed for during this financial year.

Former head of wholesale and networks, Bashier Sallie, revealed at Telkom’s Satnac conference during September 2013 that they had around 167,000 active ports in 200-odd locations.

Compared to Telkom’s June report, Telkom had activated 42,360 ports but added few or no new MSAN sites, backing up the conclusion that the project has been slowed or delayed.

That said, it is understood that Telkom is aiming to more than double its current number of active ports to over 500,000 in this financial year.

No comment from Telkom

Telkom was asked for feedback on potential hold-ups and the lower-than-hoped-for uptake of its VDSL services, but did not provide answers by the time of publication.

We also asked Telkom why it doesn’t cut VDSL prices or introduce promotions for early adopters to help spur uptake, but this question was not answered by the time of publication.

Update: In answer to questions on whether it has been a struggle to get wayleaves to lay fibre to its new MSANs, Telkom provided the following response:

A project of this magnitude comes with many challenges. As and when such challenges arise they are dealt with in a professional manner. Program and project management principles are applied throughout the value chain. From time to time issues do arise that may impact a site or sites and when such issues arise they are addressed either internally, with partners and/ or with external entities. There are no regulatory issues at play but there are statutory requirements to the program that need to be adhered to and these are addressed with the relevant authorities in a constructive and professional manner.

Telkom has also denied that the MSAN roll-out will be slowed down due to lack of uptake.

The MSAN rollout is progressing well and the project as a whole is on track. In fact, Telkom is planning to speed up the rollout of MSANs.

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Telkom 20Mbps, 40Mbps VDSL roll-out reined in