Fibre War – Telkom versus Vodacom

Telkom is fighting back after a Supreme Court of Appeal ruling in April which allows Vodacom and potentially other operators to use certain Telkom ducts and sleeves to roll out fibre networks.

The legal battle focuses on Vodacom using Telkom’s ADSL and phone line ducts in Dennegeur, a residential estate in Somerset West, to roll out a fibre network.

The Dennegeur homeowners association contracted Vodacom to roll out a fibre network in its estate, but Telkom said it was not obligated to share its infrastructure.

When Telkom discovered Vodacom was running fibre through its conduits it objected and accused Vodacom of “committing an act of spoliation”.

Legal battle

Telkom took Vodacom to the Western Cape High Court and demanded that Vodacom remove its fibre from the ducts and sleeves.

Telkom won the High Court case in 2017 and Vodacom was ordered by the to remove its fibre cables from Telkom’s ducts.

The Dennegeur homeowners association and Vodacom appealed the ruling at the Supreme Court of Appeal and won.

The Supreme Court stated that Telkom “did not enjoy possession of the infrastructure or cables which formed part of Dennegeur and was owned, occupied, and controlled by the Home Owners Association”.

Telkom fighting the ruling

Vodacom has called the judgement ground-breaking and precedent-setting as it will make it much easier for fibre network operators to roll out fibre networks.

“In future, no operator in South Africa will be restricted from deploying network equipment on infrastructure owned by a Home Owners’ Association,” Vodacom said.

Telkom is, however, having none of it and is now fighting back after the Supreme Court of Appeal ruling.

The City Press reported that Telkom obtained an urgent interdict against Vodacom in the Pretoria High Court to prevent the mobile operator from using its ducts.

Telkom’s case is focusing on one question – when can another network operator like Vodacom insist on sharing Telkom’s ducts because there is enough space?

While ICASA said there was enough space in all estates under dispute in the Western Cape, Telkom wants this decision reviewed.

Telkom argues that ICASA only investigated 90 of the 1,598 inspection holes and wants the regulator to inspect the full network.

Telkom further argues that 30% of spare capacity in the ducts should be reserved for maintenance.

No comment from Telkom

MyBroadband asked Telkom for comment regarding the issue, but it had not provided feedback at the time of publication.

Vodacom considering its options

Vodacom spokesperson Byron Kennedy told MyBroadband that they are considering their options following the interdict.

“Any concerns we have on the matter will be properly ventilated in the high court when the merits of Telkom’s case are heard,” Kennedy said.

Now read: Telkom judgement is groundbreaking – Vodacom

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Fibre War – Telkom versus Vodacom