When the Internet Service Providers’ Association (Ispa) was founded 25 years ago, its principal raison d’être was fighting Telkom’s stranglehold over South Africa’s telecommunications sector.

A quarter of a century later, Telkom — through its wholesale division, Openserve — has formally joined the now almost 200 member-strong industry body, something that even 10 years ago would have been unthinkable.

Telkom, after all, is the company that in the late 1990s — under the direction of foreign shareholders SBC Communications (now AT&T) and Telekom Malaysia — tried to claim a monopoly over the Internet protocol, which would, in effect, have killed off South Africa’s nascent commercial ISP industry.

“Much of Ispa’s early activities were focused on preventing Telkom from using its monopoly position to compete unfairly with the country’s fledgling Internet access providers,” Ispa said in a statement on Friday celebrating its 25th anniversary.

“Ispa’s steadfast efforts eventually resulted in Competition Commission rulings that resulted in the split of Telkom’s wholesale and retail activities.”

Describing the decision to accept Openserve as a member as “fitting”, Ispa said Openserve joins Liquid Intelligent Technologies and Seacom as its “three backbone members, who quite literally operate the backbones of the nation’s Internet infrastructure”.  — © 2021 NewsCentral Media