DSL dead within five years: Vox CEO

Copper-based digital subscriber line will be dead and buried within the next five years as South Africa’s telecommunications industry ramps up the roll-out of fibre broadband, according to Vox CEO Jacques du Toit.

Jacques du Toit

Copper-based digital subscriber line (DSL) technology will be dead and buried within the next five years as South Africa’s telecommunications industry ramps up the roll-out of fibre-to-the-home and fibre-to-the-business broadband infrastructure, the CEO of Vox, Jacques du Toit, has said.

In a podcast interview on Tuesday with TechCentral, Du Toit said South Africa will “definitely not” have DSL in the longer term.

“We all know Telkom is doing nothing to continue with their maintenance programmes on ADSL. They are replacing it with metro services, with fibre services. Where it’s being stolen, there’s no replacement. Exchanges aren’t being [brought] up to speed. I think five years is a push [for DSL’s future lifespan].”

In outlying areas, where fibre won’t be deployed, 4G/LTE technology will play a significant role in providing access, Du Toit said. “But copper’s days, in my mind, are gone.”

Vox — formerly known as Vox Telecom — recently announced it plans to invest R550m in new business initiatives, with most of this money to be in invested in fibre broadband infrastructure to be deployed by subsidiary Frogfoot Networks.

The money — a combination of new debt and cash resources — will be released into specific projects approved by the board and the executive committee on a case-by-case basis, Du Toit said in the podcast.

“We will identify a business or consumer precinct, do a business case on it, look at the potential precinct penetration, put the case forward and, if approved by all parties, the cash will be released,” he said.

He emphasised that although Frogfoot is a subsidiary of Vox, the company is being treated as an independent company that provides access to all market players on equal terms using an open-access model.

“Unless you are an open-access provider, your money will burn,” Du Toit said. “[Open access] is what Frogfoot and Vumatel and Dark Fibre Africa subscribe to: let’s get as many service providers to buy layer-2 services on the network on an equal basis. Vox will procure services from Frogfoot at exactly the same price point as Telkom might, or Internet Solutions might, or anybody else for that matter.”

He said Frogfoot has more opportunities than it has capacity to meet. “We have over 10 000 business buildings that have been identified [for fibre] and over 86 000 [homes] for FTTH where there is a commitment from the residents to build. It’s now up to Frogfoot to decide which gives us the best yield and where we can get the fastest wayleave approvals.”  — (c) 2017 NewsCentral Media

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  • Chrisjan Botha

    As things looks now I will be the last unlucky sod using ADSL…

  • AnRkey

    True story 🙁

  • Fanandala

    Maybe, but more likely, you will be forced to use LTE quite soon. Which works for me waaayyyy better than adsl ever did.

  • qeyaam

    LTE is waaaayyyy to expensive for downloads and streaming.

  • Davebee

    Second last Chris, I will be the Bittereinder in this field. Why you ask? Well for the good old fashioned reason of PRICE, the price of FTTH is utterly insane.
    Over the Easter weekend Telkom had a sidewalk office marketing campaign in my suburb and I found to my horror that Telkom’s ENTRY PACKAGE on fibre is over R700-00 per month!
    Have they gone barking mad?
    I for one simply cannot shell out over R8000-00 per year for what is quite frankly a conspicuous consumption luxury item, that’s for sure.
    You reading this Jacques? Frogfoot se voet ou pal!

  • Rob Dempster

    Have to agree. The question for me is what will happen to the copper out there? My guess is that it will remain where it is much the same as the countless stripped bare poles that line our rural roads.

  • Chrisjan Botha

    Too expensive, fast if you have a good signal though.

  • Chrisjan Botha

    I have 20Mbps ADSL with a goodsize cap – fibre will be almost the same for me and I can cancel my Telkom landline too.

  • Fanandala

    I admit, that it is on the expensive side, but I also cancelled my landline which saves some money.
    But whatever, they will not ask you what you want, they will just break your line, and then tell you take it or leave it. When you have to host their technicians every other week because of problems they are neither willing nor able to fix, you draw the consequences after a year and say 4 q off, and look for alternatives.

  • Greg Mahlknecht

    Open Access FTTH is going to win this, and at some point Telkom will be forced to drop prices. It’s significantly cheaper than a Telkom copper line.

    Don’t get direct from Telkom – Webafrica’s selling FTTH on Telkom’s network for less than R400 – what do you pay for your Telkom line + ADSL, all in?

    >You reading this Jacques? Frogfoot se voet ou pal!

    Frogfoot has nothing to do with Telkom, whose high prices you quoted.

  • Fibre Tiger

    Ja we see it as well.. we get more and more providers listed, some of them I haven’t even heard of !

  • Emma155

    My guess is that they will recover the bigger cables as there is a fair amount of value in the copper. The smaller ones (either underground or overhead) they will simply leave as it will cost far too much to recover them. These will eventually disappear of their own accord. There may be the odd case where they are forced to recover for safety or aesthetic reasons but the approach has always been to leave in situ.

  • Emma155

    I also have 20Mb/s with 100GB cap working over VDSL and its brilliant. I haven’t had a breakdown in 5 years and I consistently get 17MB/s download. I can also (with an extra R269/m) share my cap with up to 5 Telkom mobile users. Works like a treat and is far cheaper than using mobile data. Problem is that because we have VDSL in the area there is no sign of fibre being laid. We’ll probably be last in the queue for that but as long as my present service holds out, I’m not complaining!

  • Deon van der Westhuizen

    Promises, promises. The real end of copper will be when the cANCer’s voters steal the last piece of metal in South Africa.

  • William Stucke

    Another nail in the coffin of the copper last mile. Tell me, Sipho, is there anyone still left at Telkom who was responsible for the “Access Line Deficit” myth and the LLU fiasco that you haven’t fired yet? If not, why not?