Telkom SA SOC Limited is a South African wireline and wireless telecommunications provider, operating in more than 38 countries across the African continent. Telkom is majority-privatised with it being 39% state-owned enterprise.
The first use of telecommunication in South Africa happened in April 1860 was a single line telegraph connecting Cape Town and Simonstown. In 1879, the first undersea links were introduced, first connecting Durban and Europe.In the 1960s, South Africa was connected to 72 nations and total outgoing annual international calls numbered over 28,800.
In 1994, South Africa launched its mobile operations, underwritten by Telkom in partnership with Vodafone. This subsidiary grew to be Vodacom, which Telkom sold in late 2008 in preference for its own 3G network (established as 8ta, but now Telkom Mobile). Vodacom has a subscriber base of more than 45M, with an average revenue per user of more than R60 across both rural and urban subscribers. Vodacom, together with the other operators, have come under criticism in late 2009 by government and the public for high interconnect charges.
In 2005, the Department of Communications redefined the Electronics Communications Act, which consolidated and redefined the landscape of telecommunications licensing in South Africa (both mobile and fixed). The Independent Communications Authority (ICASA) currently licenses more than 400 independent operators with the Electronic Communications Network License (with the ability to self-provision) as well as issuing Electronic Communications Service Licenses for service deployment over infrastructure in the retail domain.
Nowadays, Telkom faces competition from the second Fixed Network Operator Licensee, Neotel, as well as the three mobile operators, Vodacom, MTN, and Cell-C.