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Telkom outlines cable theft strategy

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Telkom, South Africa’s biggest landline operator which has spoken out strongly against the rampant theft of cables in the country, has outlined plans to counter the scourge.

Copper cable theft is a huge problem in South Africa (image:

The company said it had devised a number of plans as the prevalence of the crime was affecting service delivery and impacting negatively on the growth of Africa’s biggest economy.

“In our efforts to counter the scourge of copper cable theft, Telkom has adopted various interventions which include, but are not limited to, proactively alarming critical and sensitive cable routes and employing the service of armed security firms; deploying various wireless technologies that are alternatives to copper; assessing vulnerable aerial cable routes and, where feasible, these are buried underground; working closely with the Non-Ferrous Theft Combating Committee (NFTCC) under the auspices of Business Against Crime and the South African Police Services to jointly find ways of protecting our cable network,” Telkom revealed.

Telkom said it was implementing a national campaign to raise awareness of the company’s toll-free crime-report line (0800 124 000) as the co-operation and support of all communities was vital in stamping out cable theft.

Telkom said it was utilising alternative access technology to ease the burden cable theft had on customers.

“In this regard, the deployment of alternative access technologies entails a process of assessment, funding, planning and deployment. While these processes are aimed at providing sustainable solutions to customers, they, unfortunately, have implications with regards to the speed with which we are able to redress affected customers.”

“In cases where it has become virtually impossible to eliminate service interruptions, wireless-based products, among others, are offered to customers as an alternative to the normal fixed wire line service. The above could be readily offered only if the customer is situated in the footprint of the available wireless technology.”

Copper cable theft, which costs South Africa an estimated R7 billion every year, remains the biggest inhibitor to Telkom’s capability to improve service levels.

The increase in copper cable theft is creating an environment of a rapidly deteriorating service quality and is severely affecting the delivery of sustainable ICT services to customers. In many high-theft areas, cable is repeatedly stolen, sometimes within days after replacements or repairs, Telkom stated.

“The direct impact of cable theft includes the disruption of essential services and costs of replacements or repairs of the affected infrastructure.

“Telkom has observed a trend in the deliberately determined cycle of theft. This is damaging businesses, depriving our customers of a basic service and, in some cases, adversely affecting their security.

“Of course this is affecting our capacity to deliver services within acceptable time intervals,” the company said.

Goodman Majola


  1. If Telkom used all fibre optic cable they would not have to pay private security to protect cables. The once off cost of fibre optic would be recouped with in two years by not having to replace copper. Could there be a link between the companies that supply the cable and parties working for Telkom. Just wondering why such reluctance to replace with fibre optic. Maybe some people would loose out on a cash cow?????????????????

  2. No, Telkom are already replacing some of it's copper cable with fibre. However, thieves are digging up the new fibre cable as well, under the belief that it is still copper. The good thing is that most of the fibre that gets dug up mistakenly, gets left behind, so new replacement cable doesn't need to be bought.

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