Telkom landlines – Prices went up and subscribers went down

A standard landline from Telkom costs R200.74 per month.

The service gives you a “good old-fashioned landline”, said Telkom on its product page, adding that “there’s still nothing cheaper” than a landline-to-landline phone call.

The thought of paying R200 per month for a landline, which only offers a fixed-line voice service, may seem ludicrous to many in 2018.

With smartphones and services such as WhatsApp offering data-based voice and video calling at very cheap rates, regardless of destination, a landline is not an attractive option.

The fact that platforms like WhatsApp also offer messaging and file transfer abilities makes it even less likely for a user to need or want a landline.

In the year 2000

There was a time when well over 5 million landlines were active in South Africa, however, and it was not too long ago.

In the year 2000, Telkom had 5.4 million fixed-line subscribers – a number which had grown from 3.5 million in 1994.

Mobile data at R50 per GB, smartphones, and fibre connectivity were unheard of concepts for many South Africans, and the way you communicated was via your Telkom phone.

Those who wanted to connect to the Internet were also in need of a Telkom line, which remained the case as ADSL services rolled out across the country.

Before the likes of Vumatel started trenching and laying fibre for consumers, your best bet to getting a stable and fast Internet connection was a Telkom DSL service.

Telkom’s DSL lines, which went up to 40Mbps if you lived in the right area and were close enough to an MSAN, required users to have a Telkom landline installed.

This meant that before you paid for your DSL line and your ISP data account, you had to pay for and have a Telkom landline.

Fibre and LTE

When fibre and fixed-LTE packages started becoming available and more affordable, South Africans were therefore quick to take up the services.

They offered faster speeds and better connection stability – not to mention the fact that Telkom’s copper network has been a constant target of thieves who sell the valuable metal.

This left users without connectivity while the lines were replaced.

This migration to fibre and LTE hurt Telkom’s landline business, as many users only kept their Telkom line for their DSL connection.

Not helping the situation was the fact that Telkom landline prices were increasing as time went on.

In August 2002, a Telkom landline was R67.72 per month. In 2009, it was R131.00, and in 2015 it was R189.00.

The R200.74 price today, combined with competing technologies, means Telkom’s landline user base has shrunk dramatically in recent years.

The table below shows the increase in landline prices since 2002, along with the number of Telkom fixed-line subscribers.

Telkom – Price vs Subscribers
Year Landline Price Fixed-Line Subscribers
2002 R67.72 4,924,000
2003 R81.90 4,844,000
2004 R87.05 4,821,000
2005 R92.28 4,726,000
2006 R99.92 4,708,000
2007 R111.90 4,642,000
2008 R124.20 4,532,000
2009 R131.00 4,451,000
2010 R133.30 4,273,000
2011 R139.97 4,152,000
2012 R148.37 3,995,000
2013 R157.00 3,800,000
2014 R166.50 3,618,000
2015 R189.00 3,439,000
2016 R189.00 3,217,000
2017 R199.00 2,954,000
2018 R200.74 2,678,000

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Telkom landlines – Prices went up and subscribers went down