TELKOM SOUTH AFRICA HAS BIG BROADBAND PLANS

Internet

Broadband enjoyed a great deal of attention at Telkom’s Analyst Open Day on Thursday. According to the telecoms giant consumers have a lot to look forward to in the broadband space.

  Papi Molotsane, Telkom’s CEO, said that he expects to see an increase from 15% to 20% in broadband (ADSL) lines within three to five years. His ambitious goal of a million broadband users by 2010 will be easier said than done considering the current growth rate of just over 10 000 new ADSL customers per month.

Wally Beelders, Telkom’s Marketing Executive, said that a key driver for ADSL take up would be to introduce higher speeds, next-generation data services like metro Ethernet, bandwidth on demand services and broadband bundles.

Reuben September, Telkom’s Chief Operating Officer, joined the broadband party by providing an overview about Telkom’s future broadband initiatives.

According to September Telkom will focus on “innovative bundling, branding and positioning of broadband access and value added services and products”. He further pointed out that bundled services, like a complete one stop triple play solution, are in the pipeline.

Telkom are keen to include the next generation of broadband users and have stated that there will be a focus on a younger market and the provisioning of a web portal/page with broadband branded value added services. The portal will have content and self service capability meeting the demand for more interaction between Telkom and customers. September pointed out that Telkom is working on various new broadband offerings.

The new products Telkom are currently working on are Voice over broadband calling plans, Rich content like music, video on demand & gaming, multi choice video on demand, M-net on demand, IPTV, bandwidth on demand, WIMAX products and triple play (data, voice, video).

Telkom does not seem to be too concerned about the threat from wireless broadband offerings like HSDPA, MyWireless and iBurst. September said that the combination of the fixed and WiMax technologies would make Telkom “formidable from a broadband perspective”, Moneyweb reported.

September hinted strongly that Telkom might increase ADSL access speeds without hiking prices. This is a common international practice where users get bumped up to a higher speed at existing rates.

September further introduced EvolutionWare, a consolidated interface for customers and commercial centres on TelkomInternet which will “enable customer self-provisioning, self-administrating services and automated activation processes for services such as Web hosting and DNS.”

In the presentation the need for faster install times and fault repair was highlighted as one of the main customer satisfaction drivers. According to September they will focus on better communication with the customer and will enhance the self-install option to decrease install time.

September also highlighted the need for competitive tariff packages. Telkom ADSL customers in specific feel that significant reductions are needed for Telkom to fall in line with international standards.

Broadband users have eagerly been awaiting word from Telkom regarding ADSL price reductions after Wally Beelders informed Financial Mail that an announcement will be made in this regard by the end of March.

When Telkom was quizzed on this announcement they said that price reductions are in the pipeline, but gave no information about when it can be expected and how much it will be. Maybe September’s planned ‘improved communications with customers’ can start right here.

The telecoms monopoly will be well advised to make pricing the main ingredient of any broadband strategy.

In a recent website poll 86% of consumers said that cost remains the most important component of a broadband offering to them, which gives an indication of where any broadband provider’s main focus should fall.

Telkom’s broadband plans appear positive for consumers but the proof will be in the pudding.

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