ISPA slams Telkom as 'roadblock'
Cape Town - The Internet Service Providers' Association (ISPA) has slammed Telkom as a "roadblock" for hampering the expansion of cable broadband in SA.
"Telkom is a betwixt and between beast. It has significant state ownership, but it has significant private shareholders and the two drives there are different," Dominic Cull, ISPA regulatory advisor told News24.
While Telkom has private shareholding, they are seen as a state entity in SA and ISPA contends that the split between national goals and revenue drives a split in the telco.
This is particularly relevant in that Telkom has the largest communication infrastructure to deliver "last mile" internet connectively to users.
"They don't know what they are; they're completely split in that regard and that is fundamentally a problem because it is holding the country back," said Cull.
He said that the department of communications should force Telkom to take the measures necessary so that more South Africans would have access to cable broadband.
"We would most certainly like to encourage the department of communications and government to clarify that.
"Government controls the board of directors at Telkom so effectively they control the direction Telkom takes and the things it could be doing if it wanted to be an enabler of economic growth in South Africa as opposed to a roadblock or retardant."
Other ISPs have also expressed concern that Telkom is not acting speedily enough to ensure universal access to broadband in SA.
"Telkom does need to make improvements and come to the party," Carolyn Holgate, general manager of MWEB Connect told News24 recently.
"So certainly we believe there's a great deal of scope for Telkom to enable socio economic benefits to ensure that communications are enjoyed at a lower price by more people in South Africa," said Cull.
He cited the World Bank report that showed that roughly for every 10% of broadband penetration, a country increased its GDP (Gross Domestic Product) by 1.38%.
The report particularly highlighted the increase in low- and middle-income countries and that broadband penetration added more value to GDP than other telecommunications services.
Australia is currently building a fibre broadband network to cover the whole country and South Korea is in the process of rolling out a public access Wi-Fi network in Seoul.
"That seems like very simple maths to me. Why aren't we chasing that? And if we are going to chase that then Telkom needs to be a primary vehicle for doing it," Cull said.
"We most certainly like to see a strategic plan on the part of Telkom which is more nationally focussed, which is more about the socio economic benefits that can come to South Africa."
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