Telkom's plan to kick off 20 and 40Mbps internet trials made headlines in the tech media over the past few weeks, being a significant jump over the current 10Mbps standard.
The oft-maligned company has stepped up its game, rolling out new equipment in an attempt to modernise its creaking infrastructure.
Now, we're seeing some results as the company's pilot kicks off, with six locations around the country playing host.
However, Telkom has quite a few challenges ahead if it hopes to bring broadband to the masses and return to profitability.
First up is the issue of geography, with many South Africans unable to even access 2/4Mbps connectivity right now, let alone the top-tier 10Mbps service. So who's to say that the situation won't be repeated?
Telkom's ambitious plan is to roll out 3000 high-speed multi-service access nodes (MSANs) across the country, while also replacing copper links with fibre. Of course, this is an expensive and time-consuming process, so we won't hold our breath for upgrades in our neck of the woods anytime soon...
The second obstacle is cost, probably the biggest factor in South African broadband.
A prospective broadband customer first has to pay for a Telkom landline (costing about R148), regardless of whether they actually want it.
Then there's the DSL line, costing anywhere between R165 (384Kbps/1Mbps) to R425 (4/10Mbps). So, that's a minimum of R313 and a maximum of R583 – and that's before buying an ADSL data account.
You'll really want an uncapped data account to go with the high-speed line, and a decent offering ranges from just under R200 for 1Mbps to R700 for Afrihost's 10Mbps solution. Then there's MWEB, offering a 10Mbps for R999.
Thus, you'll be paying a minimum of R513 per month for a 1Mbps uncapped package and over R1400 for a 10Mbps uncapped service. No need to wonder why mobile broadband is booming in South Africa...
It's almost to be expected that the 20/40Mbps services will be accompanied by a higher price. Whether it's R600 or R1000 for the line only, it's anyone's guess. But aside from simply making it as cheap as possible, Telkom could throw in some extras - and that's another challenge.
The third obstacle is compelling content, a way for Telkom to attract users to the higher speed service. I mean, a high speed DSL service is great on its own, but there are many possibilities...
For one, the company could introduce video-on-demand and live TV packages, piped over their network. It's already being planned by Telkom, according to MyBroadband, and is a feature that could motivate loads of people to cancel their DStv subscriptions if done properly.
It's a system that has worked well for British and American internet giants, offering loads of video content as a value-added extra. And it'll go some way to softening the blow that will inevitably come with the subscription fee.
Another option would be to introduce a VoIP service, allowing subscribers to call each other for free. Sure, this means that traditional landline revenue would most likely dip, but the increase in ADSL subscribers and revenue could make it worth their while.
High-speed broadband is the great enabler in many societies today, with broadband penetration linked to GDP growth in many countries. But getting an affordable service rolled out to the masses will be Telkom's challenge. Whether you dislike them or hate them, we have to hope that they can pull it off...