[CLUG-chat] Telkom Alternatives Advocacy Campaign

Zayne S. Halsall kernel at neo.org.za
Wed Aug 16 20:28:23 SAST 2006

Alan McKinnon wrote:
>> Good idea if you ALREADY have an alternative! Where are the
>> alternatives? I dont see how any more complaining (and between us
>> all we've done a few hundred thousand rands worth of it!) will help
>> the situation!
> But complaining in an effective way is the ONLY thing that will ever 
> change the current setup. It's unlikely to be done by the SNO (who
> more than likely will see a gravy train and jump on board - it's a
> commercial company after all, not a social betterment foundation),
> and it definitely won't be legislated by the state (who own half of
> Telkom....)
> The only thing that has ever driven prices down is consumers telling 
> providers that they won't accept high prices any more, and doing it
> in an effective way that gets attention.

As someone who:

	- chose to use iBurst when going broadband despite being in an area 
where DSL is easily available;
	- remains with iBurst despite constant problems with disconnections and 
sudden, unexplainable drops in speed;
	- has had to forcibly escalate an issue to the MD of iBurst after 
sinking into the morass of ineptitude and outright stupidity that is 
their technical support (and do I ever use *that* term loosely);
	- ends up paying more for refusing to have a landline and instead uses 
a cellular as replacement;
	- goes through all of this due to a sense of moral obligation to deny 
Telkom (what would be) his miniscule contribution to their coffers;

I fully understand and applaud the efforts of those that are trying to 
find a way to shake the bastards up, especially given that they are 
taking a page from the book of open source success stories.


While Rudolph Muller is correct in saying that Telkom is sensitive to 
media exposure, I don't think it has any positive relevance for this 
campaign.  When you get down to brass tacks, those empowered to at 
Telkom no doubt made the decision to have Dr CH Stuart's problem sorted 
out because it was a chance to turn some negative publicity into 
positive, for a very small expenditure on their part.  In the end those 
who believe Telkom is "trying to change" or whatever will have had their 
opinions re-inforced, ignoring the fact that Stuart spent more than 
Telkom did which, given the immense disparity in spending power, makes 
it a Pyrrhic victory at best.

Alan is 100% when he says the consumer needs to take a stand and tell 
the providers that we won't stand for it any more.  However, the only 
way that will be effective will be to impact their bottom line: stop 
giving them money.  And as Mogamat said, what *are* the alternatives? 
As someone who is making use of those alternatives, I can tell you that 
even a TV ad that grabs the viewer by the back of the neck and tattoos 
"Telkom is ripping you off" across their forehead will still not cause 
people to make the type of change that is needed - because as Jonathan 
Groll pointed out, it's all down to rands and cents at the end of the day.

We need co-ordinated, long-term mass action.  In a country synonymous 
with strikes and boycotts, it shouldn't be too hard to convince people 
of how to go about it.  The problem is, businesses have more influence 
with Telkom due to the size of their investments, so they would 
definitely need to be involved in something like this - and no business 
will make that kind of move without a viable alternative in place.



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