After innumerable outages caused by stolen copper cables, my mother was about to cancel her Telkom line when a box arrived at her door. In it was a new phone that looked like a large corporate desk phone. Instead of cables to connect it to the Telkom port on the wall, it had a SIM card and a battery, much like a cellphone. It is, in fact, a cellphone, but one masquerading as a normal landline, and which can also act as a Wi-Fi hotspot.

Telkom, which has battled copper cable theft for decades, has started to move landline users to its mobile network. Instead of my 91-year-old mother’s phone using wires, it now uses Telkom’s mobile network. It’s been a game-changer. Instead of days or weeks without a line, she now has a reliable connection.

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