Telkom is continuing to invest in building fibre infrastructure closer to its customers as well as in new broadband digital subscriber line (DSL) technology, but it hasn’t yet decided what sort of line upgrades it will offer to end users.
The company recently began upgrading users of its 4Mbit/s DSL lines to 10Mbit/s in areas that can support it, but Bashier Sallie, MD for wholesale and networks, downplays recent speculation about imminent plans to upgrade some customers to 20Mbit/s.
“None of that is firmed up,” he tells TechCentral in an exclusive interview. “We are looking at what the market has an appetite for.”
In recent years, Telkom has been pouring money into shortening the lengths of the copper in its access network by extending fibre along streets and installing digital broadband equipment — known as DSL access multiplexers — in the distribution cabinets in suburban streets.
The speeds consumers can get from DSL services are directly related to the quality of the copper in the ground and the length of the copper lines to Telkom’s multiplexers.
By shortening that distance of customers to fibre, the company is able to offer higher speeds to its customers. This is important to ensure fixed-line broadband remains competitive as the access speeds on cellular networks continue to increase.
“Our average [copper] loop length is 1,8km and the idea is to reduce that to enable higher broadband access speeds,” Sallie says. The company is introducing a technology called ADSL2+ into its network to support this.
Telkom is replacing legacy equipment in its network — exchanging first-generation access multiplexers and replacing its legacy backhaul network, which uses old Asynchronous Transfer Mode technology, with faster Metro Ethernet.
“We will offer higher broadband access speeds, but what those finally are will be a function of consumer appetite,” says Sallie. He says current upgrades to the network will take around three years and customers should not expect line speed upgrades immediately. — Duncan McLeod, TechCentral