Telkom could kill off its copper network within 24 months

Telkom’s legacy copper access network, which once underpinned its business, could be gone within 24 months.

That’s according to the company’s CEO, Serame Taukobong, who told TechCentral in an interview on Wednesday that within the next 18-24 months, Telkom will likely have “totally exited” from copper as it moves customers to newer technologies such as fibre and fixed-4G/5G.

Its IT services business, BCX, which also sells connectivity solutions into enterprises, is likely to terminate its copper-based offerings even sooner – within the next 12 months, Taukobong said. Openserve and the Telkom Consumer businesses will likely take a little longer.

Telkom revealed on Wednesday, alongside its interim results for the six month to end-September 2022, that its legacy fixed-line business continues to shed customers at a rapid pace.

The number of copper fixed lines in service plunged to just 882 000 as of 30 September. That’s down 21.1% from a year ago. At the turn of the century, Telkom had more than five million fixed lines in service, but this figure has fallen steadily, driven in large part by consumers moving to mobile services for both voice and Internet.

“Internet all-access subscribers” – mostly copper ADSL users – declined by 13.6% in the latest reporting period, to just 274 000. At the same time, however, the number of homes connected with Telkom fibre jumped by a third to 443 500 (with the number of homes passed now nearing a million). Active mobile subscribers climbed by 11% to 18 million.

Read: Telkom launches 5G – but not on mobiles, yet

Taukobong said the remaining copper access lines are mostly in homes, especially in smaller towns, and in small and medium businesses that haven’t yet switched to fibre.

There are also still pay phones in public places, including hospitals and prisons, which haven’t yet been decommissioned.  – © 2022 NewsCentral Media

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