Telkom group CEO Sipho Maseko said on Monday that the partially state-owned telecommunications operator is keen to be intimately involved in the deployment of a national broadband network into areas of the country that are not currently well served. But Maseko warned that government, not Telkom shareholders, must pay for the roll-out.
Maseko told TechCentral that he met with finance minister Pravin Gordhan earlier on Monday to discuss, among other things, government’s national broadband plan, which communications minister Yunus Carrim is expected to present to cabinet in early December.
He said there are a number of ways to approach a government-funded broadband roll-out, but that the most logical approach is first to deliver infrastructure that gets all areas of government online, from clinics and hospitals to police stations. He said Telkom has a “well-documented proposal” for government on this.
Telkom is keen to be involved in government’s broadband plan, but “not unconditionally”, Maseko said. “Government will pay for it, not us. The part that government has paid for, they will determine how it is used. If there are open-access requirements on that network, those should not be imposed on the Telkom network, which is a private network. We can play a role. You can’t have the broadband plan without Telkom in it.”
He stressed that government has not tried to impose itself in any way on Telkom, which is listed on the JSE with private shareholders. “Government has been listening to everyone,” Maseko said. “There is no imposition or expectation whatsoever.” — (c) 2013 NewsCentral Media