Big fight between Telkom and Vodacom could leave residents without fibre
Telkom has won what it calls a “landmark” court case against Vodacom regarding the use of its infrastructure. The case was resolved in the Western Cape High Court on 26 July, following an urgent application brought against Vodacom by Telkom. The application related to Vodacom’s “unlawful use of its infrastructure in the Dennegeur Residential Estate”.
Telkom brought the application against Vodacom following its use of Telkom’s duct infrastructure without consent. The duct infrastructure is located in the Dennegeur Residential Estate and is used by Telkom to provide copper cables to residents. The ducts were constructed and copper cables installed by Telkom in 2000.
Following a failed attempt at negotiating with Telkom to install fibre in the area, the Dennegeur Estate Homeowners’ Association approached Vodacom to install a fibre network. In August 2015, Vodacom asked Telkom for permission to install fibre in its ducts in the estate, but Telkom said it was not obligated to share its infrastructure. A dispute was then referred to ICASA in January 2016.
On 18 February 2016, Telkom was alerted to a damaged copper cable within its ducts, where it discovered that Vodacom had started installing fibre. It is unclear when Vodacom began installing the fibre. Both operators continued to trade responses and information through an ICASA dispute, while Vodacom proceeded with its fibre installation.
Vodacom said its fibre installation at Dennegeur Residential Estate was completed by May 2016.
Following Telkom’s application against Vodacom, the court issued the following orders, pending the outcome of the ICASA proceedings:
- Vodacom must restore the possession and state of Telkom’s duct infrastructure at Dennegeur Residential Estate.
- Vodacom must remove all equipment and fibre cables from the infrastructure, restoring it to its original state.
- Vodacom and the Homeowners’ Association are ordered to pay Telkom’s legal costs.
This means the estate’s residents may once again be without fibre.
Telkom and Vodacom respond
Telkom said it had engaged with the estate regarding a retail fibre solution prior to Vodacom installing its fibre network, but they were not able to agree on commercial model. Telkom’s networks division Openserve said the estate was included in its planning for the installation of an open access network in 2015. The estate was informed at the time of Openserve’s intention to install a fibre network.
“The estate, however, contracted with Vodacom for the installation of a fibre network by Vodacom before Openserve was able to install its open access fibre network in the estate,” said Telkom.
“This is largely what gave rise to this particular case.”
Vodacom said it has noted the High Court’s decision and was studying the judgment.