Telkom has been accused of anti-competitive behaviour by one of its wholesale clients, who provided detailed communications to substantiate the case.
According to the Telkom Wholesale client (also referred to as the service provider), who asked to remain anonymous, Telkom Retail appears to be given preferential treatment by Telkom Wholesale.
MyBroadband was provided with a full communication string, which showed the service provider was told by Telkom Wholesale that Metro Ethernet was not available to a certain business.
However, not long afterwards, Telkom Retail offered the requested Metro Ethernet to the same business.
To illustrate the concern of the service provider, a summary of the communication string is provided, below.
Day 1: Service provider asked Telkom Wholesale for a Metro Ethernet service for client X
Day 1: Telkom Wholesale said the service cannot be provided to client X, because the required infrastructure was not available in the area
Day 15: Telkom Retail offers a Metro Ethernet service, which Telkom Wholesale told the service provider cannot be done, to client X
Day 15: Service provider complains to Telkom Wholesale that Telkom Retail made an offer to his client
Day 15: Telkom Wholesale promises to investigate the issue and give feedback
The service provider said it is very concerned that Telkom Retail was given an advantage over other service providers by Telkom Wholesale.
It added that Telkom Wholesale did give feedback as promised, but only to indicate that the investigation was ongoing.
Not an isolated event
The Internet Service Providers’ Association (ISPA) said this was not an isolated case.
According to ISPA regulatory advisor Dominic Cull, the association had previously been advised of a number of allegations of the same or similar behaviour.
Telkom mum on the issue
Telkom was asked whether the situation described was acceptable, but the company refused to answer the question.
Telkom would also not comment on why Telkom Retail offered a service to a client which Telkom Wholesale said was not available to a service provider.
Instead, Telkom said that Metro Ethernet and DSL products are provisioned nationally by Telkom’s Network Infrastructure divisions.
“In the absence of specific detail relating to the alleged refusal of service provisioning, we are unable to investigate the matter,” Telkom said.
“Telkom is, therefore, not able to comment on a specific matter in the absence of any of the specific detail pertaining to the matter.”
It should be noted that Telkom did ask MyBroadband for specifics about the anti-competitive allegations and the companies which were involved.
MyBroadband, however, could not provide this information as it would reveal the source, who asked to remain anonymous.
Telkom wholesale and retail split
In June 2013, the Competition Tribunal ruled that Telkom must implement a functional wholesale and retail separation within its business.
A few months later, Telkom published a code of conduct document, detailing how employees of its wholesale and retail businesses should and shouldn’t engage with each other.
The top policy of the Code of Conduct is for Telkom Wholesale to treat Telkom Retail and other licensed operators in a non-discriminatory manner.
Telkom Wholesale must also protect confidential information of other licensed operators from Telkom Retail.
The case described in this article raises some concerns as to whether Telkom’s wholesale and retail separation was as successful as the Competition Tribunal wanted it to be.