Incumbent telecoms provider Telkom has announced that it’s formally splitting its wholesale arm off as a separate business with a new name, Openserve. The business will be headed up by former Telkom CTO Alphonso Samuels.
Samuels says that Openserve will operate within the Telkom group, but will be run without discrimination and on the basis of open access.
“Open access for us is about offering all our clients equal access to our pervasive network,” Samuels told an audience at Turbine Hall in Johannesburg this morning, “and providing a service at any point they desire.”
Samuels promised accountability and transparency in the way Openserve is run.
Internationally, the separation of wholesale and retail arms of incumbent telecommunications providers is widespread. For example, the split in the UK between BT and its wholesale arm, Openreach, which looks after the infrastructure, has been credited with helping to grow the customer base for internet access.
Samuels says that it will be another six months before the final structure of Openserve is settled on, although the transition to the new structure is already underway. Openserve will, however, inherit both the wireless and fixed infrastructure of Telkom’s current wholesale division, but not the LTE capabilities which will stay with the consumer and mobile division.
Telkom CEO Sipho Maseko says that the separation of Openserve as a separate business unit will be critical for getting more South Africans online.
“Everyone should have access to broadband,” Maseko said, “The functional separation of wholesale and retail Telkom… Can turn broadband aspirations to reality.”