Public response to ads placed by the Telecommunications Action Group (TAG) calling for a shakeup of the local telecoms industry has been overwhelming. 


The ads, lashing the high costs charged by Telkom, ran in the Mail & Guardian on Friday, and the Citizen yesterday.
Alastair Otter, co-founder of TAG, says that while official response has been deafening in its silence, the group has been flooded with calls and offers of support from the South African public.
"What has amazed us was the public response to the campaign and we have been inundated with people phoning us and offering assistance," says Otter.
"Telecommunications costs and services are clearly a very, very sore point with South African consumers."
While it is understood that Telkom did issue a statement last week stating that it had reduced, and would continue to reduce, telecoms prices, it refused to be drawn into debate with TAG.
"Telkom repeatedly failed to participate in public forums last week on television and radio to discuss the issue, preferring to lie low and hope the storm blew over," Otter says. "As a public service provider this is unacceptable."
Of even more concern, he adds, was the seeming lack of concern within government and, more specifically, its telecoms watchdog Icasa.
"These two entities play a crucial role in the provision of affordable telecommunications services in the country and, even more so than Telkom, must be held accountable for the failure to deliver real competition into the local market," Otter says.
"I understand, however, that the campaign was raised in Parliament on Monday which does represent an achievement."
Footnote: After five months of waiting, Otter finally had an ADSL line installed by Telkom at his premises yesterday. It was this delay that triggered the formation of TAG.