The evil empire strikes back, belatedly.

Good news arrived in my inbox just as I was sitting wondering what to base this column on.

The message was from the evil empire, Telkom, and basically said that its ADSL customers were going to be getting more bandwidth for their money from August 1, 2010. And about time too, I thought.

kenwright Bill Kenwright’s The Golden Years

In my case, the 5 GB I used to get, and use up before the month was out, becomes 9 GB.

The company had recently announced its new pricing structure and many people were amazed when no reference was made to giving broadband customers a better deal. This was surprising in view of the fact that other ISPs had greatly reduced their pricing after the arrival of the Seacom cable last year.

It took a long time for the Empire to react and try to compete with other ISPs but even they must have realised that they had to do so, or lose more and more customers. Competition evidently comes hard to those not used to it.

I confess to having had a love-hate relationship with the company for many years and have often been frustrated to screaming point by their policies, pricing and service. It’s true that they have been pretty good technically, but have made little or no effort over the years to look after their customers and provide real value-for-money.

Most commentators agree that the company is in trouble, especially if users don’t flock to the mobile telephone service they have somewhere in the pipeline. New CEO Jeffrey Hedberg might succeed in turning the ailing giant around, but it will be a battle to win back all the lost goodwill.

I personally believe that Telkom will go down in history as a perfect demonstration of the fact that monopolies are not only bad for the consumer, but also for the monopolies themselves. We’ll see what happens there but in the meantime, I have the pleasant task of deciding what to do with my extra 4 GB of data per month.

As I’ve mentioned before, one of my favourite places on the Internet is the BBC Radio website where you can go and listen to the shows broadcast on their many stations. My regular favourites are Russell Davies on Sunday night, Desmond Carrington on Friday night and Brian Matthew’s Sounds of the 60s on Saturday morning.

I wouldn’t miss any of those but I have discovered a couple of new programmes including Bill Kenwright’s Golden Years, in which he presents a selection of his favourite music from the mid-1950s to the early 1960s. A recent show included artists such as Frankie Vaughan, Johnny Burnette and Jimmie Rodgers.

An interesting twist to the show is that Bill, apart from being chairman of Everton Football Club, is a theatre producer and has personal anecdotes about many of the performers he introduces. Once, as a schoolboy, he sat on the stage during a Buddy Holly performance, and you can’t get closer to the action than that.

A very amusing show, And the Winner Is, is presented by Little Britain star Matt Lucas and broadcast on Saturday nights. In it, his guests get to justify their nominations for awards in categories such as Sexiest British Prime Minister and Least Boring Shakespeare Play.

BBC Radio is a truly wonderful institution and there is something there for everyone, which definitely can’t be said about our local offerings which are only okay if you think the 1990s are prehistoric, if you don’t mind having your language mangled, or like listening to phone-in idiots giving their opinions about every subject under the sun.

The BBC programmes are very convenient because, even though they are broadcast live, you don’t need to worry about missing them, because they are available for seven days afterwards. You can listen in with most modern web browsers, just by clicking on the Play button next to each program.


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