Telkom announces open access trial at 200 exchanges

Telkom has confirmed that it will open copper access at 200 exchanges on a trial basis, having alluded to the potential for it to become an open-access operator earlier in the year.

The company said it will effectively pave the way for a more open access approach, “depending on the outcome of the trial”.

“Telkom is committed to the establishment of an open-access regime for the entire industry to realise South Africa’s objectives,” the company said in a statement on Monday (7 September).

News that Telkom would open its exchanges first emerged in the company’s annual report, where it said it was trying to stimulate broadband access in South Africa.

In his address to delegates attending the Southern African Telecommunications Networks and Applications Conference (SATNAC) in Hermanus, Telkom CEO Sipho Maseko called on mobile operators to join Telkom to bridge the digital divide.

“If we are to overcome the access deficit, and in light of the mobile revolution and the benefits this has engendered, South Africa needs to see wholesale access to the mobile local loop and active sharing of the radio access network. This is an imperative and an important precursor for democratising broadband,” said Maseko.

South Africa requires decisive, unambiguous action to ensure its competitiveness, he said.

It also needs fair access to spectrum, in particular Sub-1 Ghz, for rural coverage and good indoor coverage in urban areas. Maseko noted that this is particularly true for Telkom, the only mobile operator without Sub-1 Ghz spectrum. Maseko called on South Africa’s telecoms regulator to consider its spectrum strategy to allow for fairer distribution of spectrum.

In order to make broadband access meaningful, South Africa should also reconsider import duties which limit broader access to affordable smart devices costing less than R1,000, the CEO said.

Telkom said that it has achieved a significant milestone in its broadband rollout with 38,000 homes having been given access to fibre by the end of August 2015 and 1,317 LTE sites added to the network.

The company said it aims to double the fibre rollout to 70,000 homes by December 2015 and will have capacity to connect 150,000 homes by March 2016 and 500,000 by December 2016.

By 2018, Telkom will have provided access for one million homes to connect to fibre, it said.

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Telkom announces open access trial at 200 exchanges