IN spite of Telkom changing a business’s email address, the business has been inundated with spam.     African News Agency (ANA)
IN spite of Telkom changing a business’s email address, the business has been inundated with spam. African News Agency (ANA)

Telkom’s move to wireless hits elderly hard

By Thabiso Goba Time of article published Oct 12, 2019

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Durban - Peter Herlihy, 82, is partially deaf and lives alone in a complex estate in Margate. Herlihy considers himself old school and still uses a cradle telephone, but for the last month it has been quiet because there has been no network from Telkom.

Herlihy is one of many Telkom customers who have had their communication cut off by the network provider in recent months.

“Telkom is a disaster,” said Herlihy. “I called and they told me there is some problem with the copper lines and they can no longer provide connection through them.”

Earlier this year Telkom announced that it would discontinue its copper-­based lines and move to digital, wireless phones.

“Telkom’s wireless service is more reliable than its copper-based technology and is less susceptible to interruptions as a result of adverse weather conditions, faults and cable theft,” it said.

About 39 000 people were estimated to be affected by this change.

Herlihy, who pays R550 a month for a full router and telephone package, got a package from Telkom with a new wireless phone and has enlisted the help of younger people to set it up.

“I am old and partially deaf, I don’t even have a smart phone so I’m not even sure how to use this,” he said.

Herlihy is still unconnected, having to use his neighbour’s phone to call the Telkom customer care, to no avail.

Telkom did not reply to questions sent to it this week.

On the review website, Hellopeter, Telkom has a one-star rating, with only 2% of the 86 000 reviews being positive.

Jolandi Oosthuizen said her mother’s contract was abruptly discontinued this year despite it being a yearly subscription.

The move by Telkom to discontinue traditional phones disproportionally affects elderly people who cannot afford the current cellphone contract packages, according to Femada Shamam, chief operating officer of The Association for the Aged.

“For many elders living alone, the access to a voice on the other end of a phone line ensures some level of connectedness to the external world, staving off ailments like dementia and depression elders in this situation often experience,” she said.

“The issue of security, too, is very relevant in this context as emergency services are usually a phone call away in times of medical or security concerns.”

Independent On Saturday

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