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Free Local Calls

Well they say that there is no such thing as a free Lunch, and the truth of the matter is that the title Free Local Calls is a bit misleading, as it gives people the idea that it is something that people are not paying anything for, when in fact people are paying a monthly rental, it should more correctly be referred to as un-metered local calls, or local calls at no extra cost....

Now it would appear that the Grand plan for Fixed line here was to have a cheaper rental, and make up on the price with calls, that way people would more easily be able to afford the service. Looked fine to start with, it was also known that the Internet was on its way, and those paying to use it would be spending a small fortune to do so, but as they were seen to be from the you might call the previously advantaged, well it was OK... just like a wealth tax

If you look at what the user is paying now it is in my opinion totally unacceptable and unfair. For the home user to pay close to R 112,00 a month line rental and that is without making one call, is not on – The cost of making local calls has gone up dramatically over the years, and I feel that the Subscribers are being milked. I first became aware of this from talking to people overseas who explained that they had un-metered local calls, this means that you can make as many local calls as you like at any time and talk as long as you like at no extra cost, the cost of your month rental covers this, it is known as free local calls, but as you can clearly see, the service is not given free, and as it will be explained later, it does not cost the service provider any extra, it is not like electricity, Gas or Water where you consuming a resource, once you are on the local loop (as it is called) you are already connected so when you make a call it costs nothing extra. The following countries (there might be more) have un-metered or free local calls – USA Canada and New Zealand

This little known fact has been hidden for far too long, a while back I did some digging and found this out, in fact once you have got the infrastructure in place the cost of supplying a fixed line phone service locally is very low... after sitting down and doing a few sums Eliac came up with the figure of R 7,00 a month, the problem was we could never prove it. That was up until Telkom introduced the Waya Waya phone service – This is a pre-paid fixed line phone service that people can get for a yearly fee of R 120,00  -  Now you can quickly work out that this comes to R 10,00 a month, the person using this service pays a little extra for their out-going calls, but it does make fixed line service more affordable, and it also shows that the figure of R 7,00 a month cost of a fixed line service was pretty much on the money

Telkom was given a monopoly on the fixed line service, for what was envisaged to be a five year period, part of the conditions of this was that they install 2.8 Million new phones in areas that did not have them, according to reports that I have read they did manage to install 2.5 Million phones. However it would seem that the number of fixed line users went from 4.5 Million, up to 6 Million and then back down to 4 Million – It would appear that most of the people that Telkom connected either defaulted or stopped the service.  What business today can afford to lose two million customers – In fact I am quite sure had Telkom introduced the Waya Waya service then, they would not have had such huge numbers defaulting – This must go down as one of the biggest disasters in modern communications history

The funny thing is that Telkom’s period of exclusivity ended on May 2002 – now over six years later South Africa still does not have a second national fixed line operator fully up and running countrywide – There are various reports and articles that have go into much more detail than this one of them being the Thesis that Debbie Love wrote for her Masters degree, you can find these a a lot more on the Hellkom site – I think the time has now come for more affordable communications to come into place, Telkom need to reduce the cost of doing business and their Monopoly must come to an end. Un-metered local calls needs to be introduced as a matter of urgency - Also have a look at the The Eliac PSTS Ministerial submission that was made in 2005 which among other things sets out the advantages of un-metered local calls

The time has come to take this issue out onto the road and let people know Check this out :)


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