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Ebrahim Allie
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Open letter to the Minister of Communication

06 March 2014, 11:14
Dear Minister I note with concern the news that Telkom plans to shut down a number of exchanges that it does not deem profitable. It intends to replace service in these areas with mobile technology.

Telkom also states that they will roll out faster connectivity only to the 600 exchanges it deems most profitable. This is not an acceptable state of affairs. Due to Telkom's incompetence in providing affordable and viable fixed line solutions, it now finds itself having to shut down exchanges that it feels are losing money.

This is harmful not only because mobile technology is not a feasible replacement for a steady ADSL connection, but because once those exchanges are shut down, what are the chances that fixed line services will return those affected areas.

The DOC and ICASA have been dragging their feet on LLU for several years now dear Minister and this is the result. Telkom keeps protesting that LLU will not benefit the country yet they cannot seem to maintain the infrastructure that is tantamount to the success of LLU. I do not need to inform the Minister that South Africa is behind when it comes to internet speeds.

Not only are we behind Western countries, we are fast falling behind other African countries. Telkom has sucked the country dry while it provided us with sub standard services at excessive prices. This has led to many people and companies having to rely on mobile technologies which are not only more expensive but less reliable.

How many opportunities has our country missed because of this? As someone who has learned much of what he needs to know in order to do his job, I must stress something I feel many in government miss. The internet is not just a way to communicate with strangers, share too much information or conduct business. It is a way for the average South African to catch up.

It is a place they can get informed about virtually any subject. Without it, I would not be doing the job I do today. Please Minister, I cannot convey with enough sincerity how important the growth of affordable fixed line broadband is to the future of this country.

Many services are moving online and in the future almost nothing will be available to someone who does not have internet access.

 I thank the honourable Minister for taking the time to read this and trust that something will be done to ensure that Telkom provides equal service to all areas. If it cannot, others should be given that opportunity by moving forward with LLU. Kindest Regards Ebrahim Allie
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