The 2 giants battle it out in court over fiberoptic cables.
The big T (Telkom) is fighting back on a judgement that could fast track the implementation of fibre to the public.
Vodacom received an interdict from Telkom in the Pretoria High Court last week putting a stop from them using the underground ducts of Telkom for fibre connections.
Last month the Supreme Court of Appeal had a ruling in favor of Vodacom and also stated that the infrastructure does not exclusively belong to Telkom. This being a groundbreaking judgment for Vodacom.
The existing copper cables in most of the complexes and estates belong to Telkom, so should any of the residents want to make use of another service provider they would have to give consent to their properties and roads be dug up for the laying of new cables.
In a written note from a law firm, it is stated that it would have extensive consequences for users and telecommunication. Even if a network provider is in place already, an estate may use any fibre provider to lay their network in the conduit framework owned by the estate if of course, it has the capacity to hold the network.
If the consumer can decide which is the best ISP and fibre network without having to fork out the additional cost and having to disrupt the residence, it will promote healthy competition between all the providers. There is absolutely nothing wrong with a bit of competition.
Having had a green light from SCA’s judgment, first on the list Vodacom was going to start with Dennegeur Estate in S/West, which would be a test case.
However, Telkom has now thrown a spanner in the works by arguing one facet that was not ruled on by SCA – The demanding of sharing the usage of the Telkom ducts if there is enough space.
It was earlier decided by (ICASA) that there was enough space in the conduits for all 15 estates in the Western Cape, however, Telkom wanted this decision reconsidered.
It is claimed by Telkom that ICASA not even inspected 5% of the infrastructure before making the decision. ICASA said it was feasible for Telkom to rent out the space in the ducts, however, only 90 of the 1598 inspection holes in the estates were examined.
Telkom says that ICASA’s decision cannot be based on the above numbers. The entire infrastructure needs to be investigated before finalising such a decision. Also, they say that at least 30% of the spare capacity is required for maintenance.
Telkom says that the agreement between the estates and Vodacom to use Telkom spare capacity is not in the public interest as Vodacom’s business model does not allow other ISP’s to provide internet and other services over its networks.
Judge Selement Mokose said in her judgement that the revised application ruled in favour of Telkom and Vodacom was not denied access by an interdict as it would be detrimental for Telkom.
Profit, of course, is also argued as Telkom feels that Vodacom can negatively affect them from making a profit. Judge Mokose said that consequences for Telkom outweigh the negative consequences for Vodacom.
In Vodacom’s argument, they say that with the interdict against them Telkom has exclusivity in terms of price and service. Should Vodacom, however, gain access, the public will have the benefit of choice.
These to giants are also involved in a few other disputes in various regions of the country.
Telkom said that they had previously raised a complaint against Vodacom for wrongly gaining access to the Eldo Lakes Estate in Centurion Gauteng. The estate was informed that Vodacom was acting unlawfully and that the network rollout could not take place.