Telkom to boost broadband speeds - TechCentral

Telkom to boost broadband speeds

Sipho Maseko

Sipho Maseko

Speeds of up to 10Mbit/s may soon represent the entry-level tier of broadband offered by Telkom as the company moves to see off the threat posed by mobile broadband alternatives and as it moves to increase growth of fixed-line broadband in homes and businesses.

The telecommunications operator may soon make download speeds of as high as 10Mbit/s the new baseline in broadband digital subscriber lines. “The minimum we will guarantee at some point is 10Mbit/s. That will be entry level,” says group CEO Sipho Maseko.

Already, the company is rolling out 20Mbit/s and 40Mbit/s very high-speed digital subscriber line (VDSL) services by deploying fibre-optic infrastructure closer to homes and businesses and rolling out street-level “multi-service access nodes” that even allow for fibre to the home in areas that make economic sense for Telkom. In selected estates, it is testing 100Mbit/s delivered into homes over fibre rather than copper.

“We want to get to a point soon where the minimum speeds we provide are 5-10Mbit/s,” Maseko says. He also wants the company to guarantee speeds of 40Mbit/s on its high-end copper product. Until now, Telkom has cautioned that DSL is a “best-effort service” and throughput cannot be guaranteed.

Maseko says he can’t say yet when the company’s slower DSL speeds will be phased out and consumers upgraded.

The planned speed upgrades are not without precedent. Telkom already began upgrading subscribers for free in 2012, when it boosted 384kbit/s users to 1Mbit/s and those on 1Mbit/s were bumped up to 2Mbit/s.

Then, earlier this year, Telkom launched its first 20Mbit/s and 40Mbit/s services in selected areas as part of an ongoing multibillion-rand upgrade project.

Telkom this week held a high-level strategy workshop with its 140 top managers. At the conference, a number of key areas of focus were identified, one of which involved improving the quality and performance of its network.

“The key priority for me around the network is to have an invincible network: super reliable, superfast, super safe, super scale,” Maseko tells TechCentral. “Without a network like that, all the other things we want to do, we can’t do.”

He says the operator’s next-generation access network — the one capable of offering speeds over copper of up to 40Mbit/s — now passes 163 000 homes. In testing, Telkom has already achieved speeds using copper “vectoring” technology of as high as 80Mbit/s. “This tells us we don’t have to put fibre everywhere. What it means is there will be no ripping out of the copper.”

Maseko hints that Telkom has big plans to use these higher DSL speeds to entice customers with value-added services. “We haven’t pushed content into this,” he says. “Content and services will be a big strategic play.”

He expects that as Telkom begins to improve the various elements of its business — including network and retail — that demand for DSL services, where growth has slowed in recent years, will pick up strongly again.  — (c) 2013 NewsCentral Media

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