If you've been following the tech industry for the past few months, you'll have noticed some interesting and pleasing announcements from Telkom.
The state-owned incumbent has always been reviled by the public – and for good reason thanks to past decisions. From their refusal to introduce naked ADSL (ADSL without paying for a phone line) to expensive data costs, the firm drew the ire of ISPs and consumers alike.
Yet now, the company is shaping up to be a competitive network in its own right instead of relying on its monopoly to strong-arm everyone.
But you're probably saying "how much cash have you taken from Telkom to say these things Hadlee?" and the answer is under NDA. Okay, not really, that was a bad joke - but I digress.
A series of changes
We saw the first hint that the company was turning a corner when it announced affordable uncapped data packages in 2011. Granted, users would only get full speeds late at night, but it was a step up from capped accounts.
Then in 2012, it announced an ambitious and ongoing plan to modernise its network, rolling out next-generation equipment and 20Mbps/40Mbps VDSL access.
"Ja, but it's not in my neck of the woods yet and a 40Mbps uncapped account is disgustingly expensive" you say, and you'd be correct - but it's still progress, right? Especially when you consider that the rollout is still ongoing.
Telkom also announced that its capped customers would simply be soft-capped instead. So when they reach their data limit, they wouldn't be cut off from the web. Instead, a user's line would be throttled for the rest of the month. At the same time, it announced that throttling and shaping policies on its uncapped accounts would be relaxed.
The incumbent announced more perks for its users several weeks ago too, such as unmetered social media access, the doubling of data caps and add-on plans for movie downloads and gaming services.
"Yeah, but Hadlee, you nincompoop, these benefits are for Telkom ISP owners," someone will inevitably point out. And again, you'd be correct (and odd, using a word like "nincompoop") but the company has also dished out a few benefits to those of us using MWEB, Afrihost and other ISPs.
Announced in September, Telkom revealed that it will be bumping up speeds for all users - always a welcome spot of news. So ADSL users can look forward to 2Mbps, 4Mbps and 10Mbps speeds as opposed to the old 1Mbps, 2Mbps and 4/10Mbps offerings.
More improvements needed
Despite a slew of announcements, there are still a few areas Telkom needs to address.
Naked ADSL is arguably the announcement that everyone is waiting for, with web surfers being forced to purchase a voice line for far too long now.
Then there's the issue of IPConnect pricing, which many ISPs have cited as the main reason why data packages are expensive. Although, in all fairness, Telkom was forced to implement price-cuts by the Competition Commission, while also instituting cuts of its own volition.
The other stumbling block Telkom needs to address is its infrastructure, with many areas still without faster DSL access or access at all.
Despite these few challenges, it's clear that South Africa's leading only ADSL provider has changed for the better. Here's hoping they don't disappoint us again - or is it only a matter of time?