Fed up with the ongoing telecommunications woes in South Africa a new group – funded by the public – has published an anti-Telkom advert.
The Telecommunications Action Group (TAG) raised money from 200 consumers to take out a full page advert in the current edition of the weekly Mail & Guardian newspaper.
Richard Frank, co-founder of TAG told Tectonic website that, “The high costs of bandwidth and telecommunications services are damaging the country. Many businesses are either not able to operate profitably in South Africa or are simply not willing to invest in the country.”
The text of the advert reads:
“THE MORE OF THIS YOU READ, THE MORE INFURIATED YOU’LL BECOME.
Last year, Telkom recorded a staggering R9.3 billion in pure profit. At your expense. Read on and find out why South Africans continue to pay some of the highest prices for telephony services in the world. Don’t expect the government to step in. They couldn’t give a hoot. They’ve got a 38% shareholding. This in itself is like a ticket to act with impunity. And anyway, it’s the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA) which acts as the watchdog for the telecommunications industry. Their central role is to regulate telecommunications in the public interest. So how come they’re not barking noisily and waking up the country about the fact that South Africans pay five times as much for a local call now than they did in 1996? Or that internet access in South Africa is among the most expensive in the world (in fact, you’ll pay less for broadband in Morocco, Egypt, Botswana, and Mozambique)? Or that Telkom is only too happy to pay a R15 million fine for failing to deliver basic services where “it was not economical to do so” (Hold the phone, could that be your area they were talking about?) Worse still, Telkom has laid off over 35 000 staff over the past seven years, ensuring that its profits continue sky-rocketing while the rest of the country continues at a snail’s pace, waiting up to six inexcusable months or more, to get connected. To anything. And all this from a company that is supposedly “proudly South African”? Indeed, something is very wrong when the only way the public can get through to Telkom is by running a full page newspaper advertisement. Because clearly, Telkom isn’t answering the phone.”
TAG has appealed for concerned individuals to take action by demanding that the government ensure that telecommunications services become more affordable and efficient.
Last week, international news agency Reuters said that it was reluctant to invest in South Africa because of high telecommunications costs and bandwidth which its chief executive, Tom Glocer, described as “flaky”.
For more information, visit the TAG website or www.myadsl.co.za.