Cable theft and equipment vandalism has been a perennial problem for TelOne. In 2018 the state-owned ISP had 393 cases of vandalism which then reduced to 303 in 2019. In June this year, the recorded count of acts of vandalism or theft was at 139 incidents.
In a report by The Herald, TelOne Managing Director Chipo Mtasa gave a value to the equipment that has been lost this year as well as the number of subscribers who have been affected:
Network vandalism has become rampant nationwide affecting TelOne’s service provision, especially for our voice and broadband services, which we call ADSL. You find out that a lot of copper cables are being stolen and taken to the black market where they are sold. At dollar terms, more than $50 million has been lost this year due to copper cables vandalism and theft. As a result, more than 50 000 subscribers have been affected this year alone.
This is a big problem because the outages that arise from this don’t only affect TelOne but also affects other service providers. In 2016 TelOne led the way in equipment sharing which included companies like NetOne, Powertel and the ZETDC.
TelOne has, however, been trying to curb the vandalism and theft through measures like:
- Increasing security guards and adding security systems at some of its installations
- Replacing copper with fibre optic cables which are less prone to vandalism (although in South Africa fibre has been stolen/vandalised for the Kevlar that is a part of fibre optic cable casings)
Both measures look like they need to be reinforced and improved because they haven’t gone far enough to protecting the valuable equipment.