Telkom damned but not unbowed

27 Feb 2004

A damning report confirming allegations of anti-competitive behaviour by South Africa’s monopoly fixed line operator Telkom SA has been published by the Competition Commission and the Competition Tribunal. However, the scathing document, which charges Telkom with having wilfully hampered the development of competition by blocking rival operators, is unlikely to change the telco’s ways. Telkom is facing fines of up to ZAR3.7 billion for having allegedly stifled its rivals, and the strong rhetoric of the report clearly shows that patience with the operator is growing thin. Private telecommunications operators are locked in ongoing legal battles with the PTO, with the most interesting case concerning a charge that suppliers of value added network services (VANS), which are being forced to lease bandwidth from Telkom, are finding that Telkom is withholding its facilities from them. The Commission found the telco guilty of withholding services, threatening to cut suppliers’ lines and threats of legal action, and has forwarded its findings to the Tribunal for a further round of hearings. Telkom remains unbowed, however, asserting that it has not breached the country’s Competition Act and that the tribunal will not uphold the report’s findings.

South Africa, Telkom South Africa