About Me

I ramble about a number of things - but travel experiences, movies and music feature prominently. See my label cloud for a better idea. All comnments and opinions on this blog are my own, and do not in any way reflect the opinions/position of my employer (past/current/future).

22 October 2010

Telkom: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

Ever since I moved to my new place (almost 2 months ago now), I have been trying to get ADSL to be installed. In fact, one of the key criteria when looking for a new place was - does this place have a Telkom line? I first logged a request with Telkom, online, a week before moving in - and that order was lost. The help desk did take my details down - but that order was also lost. I tried the Internet route again - I got a callback to confirm all the details; and yet the order was lost! So I tried again - at the help desk; and this time it went through! It truly says a lot about a company when it looses track of customer orders!

All said, the actual help desk people are very friendly (most of the times) and wanting to help - and my order was finally processed and the line was installed two days back. And yet again a debacle - I was called on Tuesday, and informed of the installation. When I enquired on the time; I was told to call the help desk on Wednesday morning to find out. When I asked if I could choose another day - I was told it would have to be handled as a new order!

So on Wednesday morning, I called the help desk and I was told they have been specifically told not schedule installations, and they cannot help me. They suggested "I wait around" waiting for the installer; and was surprised when I told them I don't have anyone at home who would wait for them. Of all the service problems I encountered with Telkom, this has to rank as the worst.

During the morning, the installer called me, and we made arrangement for the installer. And this is again, where Telkom really did claw back - the guy was professional, and very motivated to getting things done correctly. When the line was first activated, he realised that there was interference, which he proceeded to fix. After that, he still could not get the ADSL router to stabilise, and after some investigation, he established some of the causes (some bad wiring) and a fault on the DSLAM setting at the Telkom exchange. He promised to sort it out, before he signed off the job - and when I came back home that afternoon - it was fully sorted.

So, John (who did not give his surname) - thank you very much - I just wish your colleagues were as efficient and motivated!

19 October 2010

Thoughts on 8.ta

Telkom's recently launched mobile phone service (and South Africa's 4th) - 8.ta, has not exactly created the market buzz one might expect. In some respects, their offering does have some real value - specifically in the call charges; but my personal opinion is that Telkom has missed the boat (or perhaps are still waiting to really launch their boat). And that is, Telkom is the only South African telecommunications provider that can provide real fixed-mobile convergence services; something that could really make them different to other telcos in the market.

South Africa's lack of a viable competitor to Telkom can be blamed on many things; including foot dragging by the regulators and/or the Department of Communications (which incidentally has a conflict of interest, being the majority shareholder in Telkom). But since last year, there are over 600 licensed operations in South Africa - with more than 10 operators providing various levels of fibre based services to business in South Africa. Yet, none of them - including the established mobile operators in Vodacom and MTN as well as Neotel have really taken the leap into providing large scale residential and SME fixed line services. Furthermore, considering the large number of security estates and business parks in South Africa; this is strange given the relative high density in potential subscribers for fixed line services.

And enter Telkom in the mobile market. The one trick that Telkom can really play is a fully converged telecommunication offering. Take data service - Telkom can potentially merge their capped ADSL, 3G roaming and WiFi hotspot offering to one seamless data service offering; that provides a single data offering regardless of what medium is used. Yes, Vodacom has something similar - but Telkom would be the only service provider that can provide the seamless service since they also own effectively all the access paths. Likewise, a fully converged voice service could allow seamless transition between mobile and fixed telephony; something similar to what corporate telephony offerings from unified communications vendors such as Cisco. And the one interesting impact of such a service could potentially be no difference in call charges on "on-net" calls; as long as the calls are to Telkom.

Convergence strategies would also require Telkom to relook at its current fixed line offerings - something it has so far shown no interest in really pursuing. Furthermore, by setting up 8.ta as a separate service with minimal Telkom branding; it is questionable how much converged services it is really considering offering.

18 October 2010

Music: Hell and High Water, My/Epic/Vice and The City is the Desert (In Disguise)

The Bohemian (The Bo) is apparently the third oldest (still operational) pub in Jo'burg. It's surprising, since it is only 27 years old, and not longer in a country that ranks very high up in alcohol consumption. I have seen a number of gigs advertised at The Bo, but Saturday night was my first time there. The neighborhood is on the dark and dingy side; but it is a welcoming venue; and has a fairly laid back atmosphere. There was not much of a crowd though.

Hell and High Water is a young, new 4 piece band; which played mostly covers from various rock bands - local and international. The band members are fairly accomplished musicians with a solid vocalist; so it was a good first band. They had one or two original songs - which were not very memorable - but not horrible either :)

Last time I saw My/Epic/Vice, was at Seether's concert two years back - and they were horrible. This time around, their music was actually quite good, and looking at their website, it seems that they played most of the songs out of their album. The band was suffering from the lack of drummer (broken wrist) though they got round this quite well by playing back the drum tracks through an iPod. They were also missing a guitarist - but the reason was not very clear. They delayed the start of their gig, and the missing guitarist ended up as the sound man - not sure of the rationalles there.

The last band, The City is the Desert (In Disguise), inevitably raises the question - what is the most well known band with more than 5 words in their name. The longest I could come up with on Saturday night was 4 - The Jimi Hendrix Experience; while Bob Marley and The Wailers would give 5 words - but 7? So while their name is a memory tester, their music and performance definitely makes it worthwhile to remember their name. The music genre is difficult to describe - part Jazzy, part Rock, part pop and a combination of a whole lot more - it was really just great music, good song writing and a great performance. I was pleasantly surprised, and this is certainly a band worth watching out for.