$54,8m fine for South Africa’s Telkom

Telkom headquarters in Pretoria, as seen from Church Square Photo: Wikipedia

The Competition Tribunal of South Africa has fined Telkom, the one-time monopoly state telephone company, with a $54.8 million fine over unfair competition, according to an Associated Press report this morning.

The tribunal issued the fine Tuesday morning as part of a decade-long look at the company’s practices.

The case began in 2002, with Internet service providers alleging Telkom charged its competitors high prices for using its services, while charging much lower fees to its subsidiaries and its customers.

The South African government still owns part of Telkom SA Ltd., once an entirely state-run company. The company, with operations in other African nations, has had financial troubles in recent years. Subscribers also have increasingly dropped fixed telephone lines, the backbone of Telkom’s business, for mobile phones.

Telkom has also practised a blacks-only employment policy and has lost a significant percentage of its skilled personnel as whites have either been retrenched or resigned of their own accord.