Telkom promises 20 suburbs fibre broadband

2014-06-13 14:01
Telkom. (Duncan Alfreds, News24)

Telkom. (Duncan Alfreds, News24)

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Cape Town - Telkom has announced that it will begin a fibre to the home broadband project in a series of tweets on Friday.

The telco said that it would deliver fibre broadband services to 20 South African suburbs before the end of 2014.

The announcement follows from a broadband trial conducted in selected areas.

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 said at the World Economic Forum in Davos.

National priority

The telco seems intent on altering strategy as it tweeted the hash tag #TelkomFY14.

The state owned enterprise has been under pressure over the policy direction of national government which called for universal access to broadband.

The Draft National Broadband Policy has identified 100% broadband as a national priority.

"It is Government's objective to ensure that universal service and access to broadband for all is attained," says the document, calling for open access to networks.

Mobile broadband is increasing to compete with traditional copper-based cable services. (Duncan Alfreds, News24)

The policy called for Telkom to make its hardware available to expand broadband access in the country.

"In the fixed market Telkom is the sole provider of ADSL lines, though again there is some resale by internet service providers. Whilst prices have come down, they remain high by global standards," the policy says.

SA has around 800 000 ADSL subscribers, but more than one million lines capable of supporting high speed internet access remains unutilised.

Cost and availability

One sticking point is that Telkom's hardware should be opened to allow multiple service providers to deliver broadband directly to homes.

"However, the real gap is in the last-mile or local loop infrastructure. In high demand metropolitan areas there is considerable duplication of infrastructure, but outside these areas, ADSL is limited: Failure to release spectrum and the cost of building out high speed next generation networks to low demand areas, mean that the substitution of mobile broadband for ADSL is not as prevalent as it is in metropolitan areas," is identified in the national policy.

However, even if such a policy becomes law, it is unclear how it will be implemented in practice.

Telkom's tweets were not specific about the cost and availability of the new service, but mobile operators MTN and Vodacom has announced similar plans.

Vodacom intends to buy Neotel and roll out fibre broadband and MTN wants to buy Afrihost to build its national fibre programme. Both deals are subject to regulatory approval which is expected by the end of 2014.

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