Shortly after taking the reins at Telkom in April, newly appointed group CEO Sipho Maseko made it one of his first orders of business to meet with and apologise to the full council of the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (Icasa) for the operator’s past aggressive approach to the industry regulator.
TechCentral has established from two separate sources that Maseko and the operator’s group executive for regulatory affairs, Andrew Barendse, attended the meeting at which the Telkom CEO apologised to Icasa councillors for the company’s historically “fractious and adversarial attitude”.
One Icasa councillor, who asks not to be named, has described the shift in approach from Telkom as a “breath of fresh air” that has “made a world of difference”.
“It’s a different mind-set. They’re now open to ideas,” the councillor says.
Among things discussed at the meeting included the “functional” (operational) separation of Telkom’s wholesale and retail businesses and how this could best be achieved. Telkom recently agreed to separate these divisions as part of a wide-ranging consent agreement with South Africa’s competition authorities.
TechCentral understands that the initial meeting between Maseko and the Icasa council was followed up by a more in-depth discussion last week, at which both Maseko and Telkom’s new head of strategy, Miriam Altman — a former commissioner on the National Planning Commission — were present and at which pressing issues facing the telecoms operator were discussed.
Telkom’s apology to Icasa and the fact that it agreed to the far-reaching consent agreement with the Competition Commission suggests a dramatic change in approach.
In terms of the agreement, Telkom will pay a penalty of R200m for abusing its monopoly and harming competition. More significantly, it has agreed to allow the commission access to its records at any time and to supply it with annual reports to ensure it is adhering to the terms of the settlement. It has also agreed to both wholesale and retail price cuts, though the details of these have been kept confidential. — (c) 2013 NewsCentral Media
- See also: Signs of profound change at Telkom