A telecoms rant

You’d think that telecoms (esp in South Africa, where being one is a license to print money) would do everything they could to get you to spend money with them? If only.

Cellphones (at least Vodacom) have always required you to manually enable International phone calls & International roaming, by giving them a call and requesting it. This is a pain, to say the least. And you normally forget until you are already in another country.

But Telkom have taken this to a new level. I got a new phone line last month (which still doesn’t have working DSL, grr!), and just noticed that I can’t make International calls on it. So I phone telkom. Amazingly I didn’t have to wait on hold at all (something never before experienced when calling the beast), and the lady I spoke to told me I have to “Visit a Telkom Shop with my ID”. WTF? How hard are they making it to spend money on them?

Is there any legitimate reason that international calls are blocked? With our pricing, it’s easy to knock up a multi-k-ZAR bill without even thinking about dialling an international number, so they aren’t protecting anyone.

In related news, the reason you can’t have incoming connections on Vodacom 3G (even with “internetvpn”) is because then you’d be liable for the cost of any DOS you received. Isn’t this a problem that hosting providers and ISPs already have to deal with? Why are mobile operators special? We need some Internet Neutrality and Telecoms sense in this country…

Uncapped Local access

We’ve read that Telkom is implementing uncapped local access, as mandated by ICASA. The regulation states “local bandwidth shall not be subject to the cap”, but nobody seriously thinks Telkom will follow this to the letter. There is a huge market in inter-office VPNs over ADSL, and Telkom don’t want to lose out on that revenue stream.

Currently the savvy users out there use hacks like mine to least-cost-route local traffic over cheaper IS “Local-Only” accounts (like these). Hell, even ISPs route their clients’ local traffic over the IS Local-Only accounts.

From what I’ve heard from the friendly frogs, Telkom are really just going to keep it simple, and implement the equivalent of IS DSL accounts, where after you get capped, you get another, local-only cap. This can be implemented with Radius only, and will (to some extent) prevent the service from being abused be everybody.

So yes, we all still need our separate IS Local-Only accounts, and do our own LCR.

Anybody who thinks Telkom is doing any good for South Africa, go and sit in a corner now!

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