Telkom aims for 90mbps SA broadband

2014-01-24 10:32
Sipho Maseko, Telkom CEO. (Muntu Vilakazi )

Sipho Maseko, Telkom CEO. (Muntu Vilakazi )

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Cape Town - Telkom has hinted that urban areas may soon experience a first world high speed internet service as the telco studies the results from a pilot programme.

According to Telkom, speeds of up to 90mbps were observed in Rosebank, Bryanston, and the Waterkloof, but the national broadband policy would drive the access for all South Africans.

"The DOC [department of communications] is driving the broadband policy and the plan; on the other hand as Telkom, we're going ahead with what we call a 'commercially led broadband plan'. We're modernising our network, were investing in fibre to the home especially in the big metropolitan areas, and that is going quite well," Telkom Group CEO Sipho Maseko recently told Talk Radio 702.

Maseko is Davos for the World Economic Forum and spoke to 702 host Steven Grootes and said that the speeds observed were the result of a network modernisation at the telco.

"That begins to tell us that the modernisation and process of our network is gaining momentum," said Maseko.

Key priority

Telkom has been under pressure to facilitate a speedier roll out broadband and the recently released Draft National Broadband Policy specifies that the telco's network be opened to third party operators delivering services to homes.

"ADSL connectivity is only provided by the former incumbent, Telkom, with only 800 000 subscribers. Although a large number of internet service providers can provide internet services over ADSL, their ability to differentiate their offerings and service levels is limited by that fact that there are only three points of interconnect on the Telkom network, which effectively makes them entirely dependent on Telkom for domestic networking," the policy says.

Communications Minister Yunus Carrim indicated that broadband was a key priority for the country.

"The rollout of broadband is integrally linked to the growth of a 21st century economy and ultimately to addressing one of our country’s pressing problems, the reduction of unemployment, especially amongst our youth," he said at the South Africa Connect: Creating Opportunities, Ensuring Inclusion workshop.

Critically for Telkom, the minister said that the policy was rooted in principles of openness, technological neutrality, universality and competition among others.

While these sentiments may be noble, there remains significant technical and practical challenges in terms of how, for example, different companies will "plug in" to the Telkom network for so-called last mile connections.

Maseko nevertheless expressed his support for the plan which is expected to be finalised by the end of March 2014.

"I'm very encouraged by the ministry's acting; I'm very encouraged by the way they've been able to bring all the parties together. As Telkom, clearly we will play a big, central role in this because of the ubiquitousness of our network."


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