Thieves are walking off with Telkom's network - TechCentral

Thieves are walking off with Telkom’s network

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Telkom registered more than 6 000 incidents of copper-cable theft on its network in the past year and as a result is now actively moving customers away from the technology to wireless and fibre alternatives.

The telecommunications operator said in a statement on Monday that copper theft syndicates have become more sophisticated and brazen.

“These criminals now target our manholes armed with customised heavy-duty vehicles, allowing them to hitch the cable to the vehicle and drive out kilometres of cable, cutting off thousands of customers, in a single incident,” said Telkom spokeswoman Jacqui O’Sullivan.

“Telkom is ramping up efforts to migrate customers to wireless and fibre technologies to actively tackle cable theft syndicates,” she said.

“We face a unique set of challenges when it comes to copper cable theft. For example, there are areas in the Western Cape where gang violence sometimes makes it dangerous for us to send technicians into the area to replace stolen cables. In many high-theft areas, cable is repeatedly stolen, sometimes within days of replacements or repairs,” said O’Sullivan.

She said it is clear that the price of copper and its strong demand in international markets are catalysts of the crime.

“Analysis indicates that increases in theft incidents approximately tracks the level of the copper price — usually with a two- to three-month lag.”

Telkom said it invests heavily in securing the network with armed response, cable alarming and collaborative efforts with the police. However, the vast nature of Telkom’s network makes fighting this crime “extraordinarily tough”.

For the 2015 financial year, Telkom experienced over R200m rand in losses — R100m direct cable theft repair cost and an additional R107m was spend on security services. The company is due to publish its 2016 annual results next month.

“The cost of cable theft to Telkom is serious and it has a significant impact on thousands of customers each year. To combat this, we are looking at migrating our customers in high copper theft hotspots onto new technology platforms, specifically those which are undesirable to criminals,” O’Sullivan said.  — © 2016 NewsCentral Media

6 Comments

  1. CharlieTango on

    They regularly stole our telephone lines until about 7 years ago when Telkom gave up and no longer replaced it. Still waiting for the fibre alternative (and this is an urban area, not somewhere in the sticks)

  2. William Stucke on

    Telkom had a better response to my complaints about stolen lines – they cut down the poles!
    “What lines, Mr Stucke? We don’t have any infrastructure in your street.”

  3. William Stucke on

    And as we all know, Telkom fought LLU to the bitter end, until there wasn’t any interest left.
    Competitors always have a “Build or Buy” decision to make. As Telkom removed the “Buy” option from the table, we now have > 30 operators rolling out FTTH. Who wants old copper lines any more? Telkom destroyed their own potential market. So sad.

  4. Bye telkom my home phone is as useless as your company, putting off my line and dumping the unit in the bin.

  5. IMO this is the best thing that could’ve happened in the telecoms space, second only to the case Altech won against the DoC to allow SPs to self provide. These 2 things have resulted in Telkom no longer having as much a stranglehold on the fixed line market as it once did. There are real FTTH, FTTx and WISP alternatives available, and these are scaling up pretty nicely and fairly quickly.

    Telkom shot themselves in the foot, but the whole of RSA will benefit because of their stupidity. The market will always find ways to correct itself. Of course, we all have to suffer while we wait for this to happen.

  6. ITC, this idea of the market correcting itself will only work when our beloved Gov finally allows the market enough freedom. The ANC has a knack of mingling and messing up free markets wherever it can, while it only should allow truly independent regulators and competition authorities to do their duties firmly and fairly.

    The independence and guts, spine of ICASA has been often been doubtful, although they were absolutely vital in bringing the MTRs and cell phone rates down.
    The mingling and messing up of our SA economy by Gov with quotas, import duties, too much giving in to noisy, destructive workers, etc has proven over and over again that they are clueless.

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