Telkom ‘held talks’ with Netflix, Comcast

Technology & Convergence

Telkom has held discussions with a number of potential content partners, including Netflix, as it looks to launch video-on-demand services to its broadband customers, according to a report.

Telkom has held talks with a range of media companies, including America’s Netflix and Comcast, as it looks to build a video-on-demand service on its fixed-line broadband infrastructure in South Africa, its CEO, Sipho Maseko, has been quoted as saying.

According to Bloomberg, Maseko said that Telkom has also held talks with Naspers, which owns DStv parent MultiChoice, as well as with Germany’s Bertelsmann. The report does not say whether any of those discussions are still ongoing.

Telkom has been promising to launch subscription and transactional video-on-demand products for several years. Management believes such services will help it retain broadband customers and grow its digital subscriber line base at a faster rate.

The company is spending billions of rand in a refresh of its access network, taking fibre to the kerb and offering customers speeds of up to 40Mbit/s over its copper network using a technology known as VDSL. It is also planning to offer fibre to the home at speeds of up to 100Mbit/s in selected areas.

In the same interview, Bloomberg quotes Maseko as saying that he plans to axe up to a thousand managers and as saying that he needs to cut about a third of Telkom’s workforce of 21 000 people within the next five years.

It also quotes him as saying that the cost of running the mobile business is “a drain” on Telkom and if he “can get it down by at least 50%” — presumably referring to the losses Telkom Mobile is incurring — then that would be “fantastic”.