Do you dislike Telkom?

Do you dislike Telkom?

Every time I take the opportunity to express my opinions with regards to Telkom, I always have one or two unique individuals email me to say that I have no right to use the word “hate”.

I am assured by these individuals that Telkom is not the behemoth, money-grabbing monster I portray it to be, and that my emotional expression of the deep-seated dislike which I feel towards this entity, is nothing but emotional instability on my part.

From my perspective, the word dislike is far from accurately aligned with what I actually feel. Hate, on the other hand, comes pretty close!

Before I get going with some very “strong” opinions, allow me for just a second to justify my personal qualifications in attacking Telkom.

Over the past 6 years I have spent just on 5 million rand with them for services which else where in the world would have cost me one tenth of that.

Having started and run an Internet service provider in South Africa, I have witnessed a system through SAIX (Telkom) that is designed to chastise and restrict the South African Internet user to one provider.

I have witnessed firsthand how ICASA (the so-called Independent Communications Authority of South Africa) makes its policies, whilst indirectly being in bed with the organisation it governs.

I have numerous contacts within Telkom as a result of my “
small” business dealings over that past few years, and these contacts (close friends and confidants) are eagerly expressing their concerns to me.

Every week I reply to around 200 stranded individuals who email me in the desperation that I may have an alternative solution to their communication woes, since Telkom cannot provide basic services in their area.

I am fortunate enough to leave the continent called Africa more often than the average person, and this gives me the opportunity to see things from the other side of the fence. In fact there are probably 10 000 more reasons I could come up with. The point is that not only do I have emotional and intellectual reference on the subject, but physical evidence as well.

I am currently in Phoenix Arizona where I have a 5 Megabit Cable Internet connection through one of the many providers, costing a mere $59.00 (approximately R400.00) per month.There is no oversell ratio on my bandwidth (that means I actually get what I have paid for) and international latency does not exist except in South Africa).

But before I go any further on the subject, let me accurately quantify that for you. A provider in SA would purchase the same amount of raw bandwidth from Telkom at R242 500 per month!

On the actual telephone connectivity side, I have a telephone line here in Arizona that gives me unlimited calls in all of America, Canada and Mexico for $19.00 (approximately R130.00) per month.

While it is difficult to compare this to a local service, since Telkom would never provide such a service, allow me to compare what I can: it is cheaper for me to call you from here in the USA, than it is for you to make a call from Johannesburg to Cape Town. It costs me around 0.6 US cents (0.38 ZAR cents) per minute as opposed to your rate of 0.89 ZAR cents per minute.
I have one simple question here: what the HELL is wrong with South African consumers for putting up with this?

WHY should it be more expensive for us as South Africans to do business with the rest of the world, than it is for the rest of the world to do business with us.

The policy making in our telecommunications sector signals a very large political undertone. This undertone is prevalent in all government gazettes, extending to small business ownership in South Africa. The REAL question is, will we be rational enough to see it? It is not the lack of governance in certain areas, the underhanded political nepotism rampaging through our economy, or even the monopolies like Telkom that are the real problem.

My dream is that South Africa can be at the forefront of the world economy, with a vibrant and vast communications infrastructure that is reasonably priced and accessible to all.

That won’t happen overnight… but Rome was not built in a day either. It takes one person to light the fire, and a few helpers to keep it burning.

Get active! Visit the following sites for more information:

Telkom: Fun Facts
Profit after tax:
2000: R1.5 billion
2001: R1.6 billion
2002: R1.2 billion
2003: R1.7 billion
2004: R4.5 billion
(Equates to R12.58m profit per day)
2005: R6.8 billion
(Equates to R18.6 million profit per day)
Telkom CEO Sizwe Nxasana’s salary in 2004:
R11.1 million which equates to:
R1,267/hour or
R30,410/day or
R213,461/week or

This could keep 183 people employed for 1 year at R5,000 a month.
Telkom Directors were paid R60 million in 2003, one American receiving over R15 million, another almost R11 million, and others between 4 and 8 million. Wonder where your money goes.

Proudly South African?
Telkom is a founding member of PSA, even though:
They were managed until the end of 2004 by Americans (SBC) who dictated pricing.

They are contributing to our rampant unemployment by getting rid of 10% of their staff every year—in fact they have almost HALVED their workforce since 1999!

South Africa has lost the business of at least 32 international companies due to Telkom’s high prices and inefficient regulations in the sector (source: Department of Trade and Industry).

Four separate reports comparing Telkom’s prices with prices in developed and developing countries (NUS; Efficient Research; Yankee Group; G:enesis) have concluded that Telkom’s prices are excessively high.

At least 2 million phone lines have been disconnected since 1997, mainly because of Telkom’s exorbitant prices. SA is now one of a few countries in the world where the number of fixed lines is decreasing.

In 2004, the Competition Commission found that Telkom was guilty of “engaging in a pattern of anti-competitive practices.” They recommended the maximum fine of over R3 billion.

Telkom has taken the matter to court.

At least 150 000 call centre jobs could be created if Telkom’s prices and services were comparable to the rest of the world. 150 000 jobs could lift at least a million South African’s out of extreme poverty (The Citizen, 21/04/2005). We will never know how many indirect jobs have been lost.
Telkom threatens to fire and then sue any employee who speaks to the press about activities within Telkom.

The Second National Operator (SNO)—a competitor to Telkom—was supposed to have been licensed in 2002. It is now 2005, and South Africa STILL does not have another telephone company. But why would the government and the Minister want to licence another telephone company when the government owns 38% of Telkom?

This information was provided by, a consumer activist site which contains loads of information about Telkom.

Telkom tried to shut the owner of Hellkom up by suing him for R5 million.