Critical. Authoritative. Strategic.


CBR is proudly produced & published
by Technews
Issue Date: June 2007

Telecoms without Telkom booms

1 June 2007
Andrew Seldon

CBR profiled local telecoms provider Orion last year when its future looked good. Since then Orion has been bought and now forms the voice arm of the DataPro Group and the future looks positively sizzling.
Being integrated into a larger company is not always seen as a good thing for those companies being folded into a new parent. In the case of Orion Telecom, however, the DataPro acquisition has proven a boost for business.
Not only has Orion retained its own identity and all its original employees (plus over 100 new ones), its incorporation into the DataPro group has actually expanded its range of offerings. Says Orion MD, Jacques du Toit: "The decision was made to incorporate all the business voice services for the DataPro group into Orion to be able to present a single voice solution to our clients."
Jacques Du Toit
Jacques Du Toit
But more than being able to offer all forms of business voice services, from least-cost routing to voice-over-IP (VoIP) services, Orion has rounded out its communications offering by adding related services such as faxing and telephony management services (managing the network from the PBX outwards). Figure 1 shows the breadth of Orion's new offering. And truth be said, Orion is a company in the right place at the right time doing the right thing.
Figure 1
Figure 1
MATA (Managers against telephone abuse)
An example of the company's new services is its telephone management system designed to allow organisations of all sizes to monitor their telephone calls. Most importantly, the solution is also capable of identifying non-work related calls. Called the Orion Call Manager, it provides a comprehensive set of data for telephone management purposes, including cost reports and details.
"A call management system enables companies to keep an eye on calls of a personal nature and to cut down on telephone abuse," explained Kim Seed, product manager at Orion Telecom. "The lack of an effective telephone management system can cause a reduction in productivity and profit margins can be reduced through improper tracking of costs associated with telephone usage.
"With Orion Call Manager, call restrictions can be tailored to the client's exact specification to ensure complete control and eliminate abuse of the telephone system. It is a powerful reporting tool that helps control and manages telephone call activities from the PABX."
The telephone management system records call details and costs them according to variable setup options. Control over extensions and pin or account codes are possible with multiple access levels. Comprehensive call accounting reports provide details for cost centres or department telephone billing. The system also assists in measuring the effectiveness of least cost routing.
According to Seed: "a properly implemented policy, used in conjunction with a telephone management system, can result in savings of up to 35%."
Not only does the system manage a company's telephone expenditure, but it also serves as a device to eliminate fraud, and can be used as a billing engine to charge clients for calls made on their behalf. Seed says no capital expenditure is required by companies who choose to implement it, nor are there reporting fees, licensing fees or upgrade and tariff fees.
Among the benefits of the system are the following:
* Its web interface provides quick and easy access from any PC.

* Managers are able to monitor their own departments separately even over different sites.

* It sends limit notification via e-mail and/or SMS to make staff aware of their usage so they can manage themselves and reduce their telephone expenditure.

* It determines how many private calls each employee has made.

* It determines productivity lost through private use.
The farce continues
However, and there is always an however in South African telecommunications, there is still a fly in the ointment named Telkom. Even though local VAN operators are able to legally provide IP-based voice services, there is still an interoperability problem. This 'problem' is preventing companies like Orion from competing effectively and is keeping South African businesses and consumers enslaved to exorbitant voice communications pricing.
Following Telkom's recent announcement of rates for calls that originate on its network but terminate with VANs, Du Toit says Telkom has added an extra R0,44 to the cost of a call to a VAN. "Telkom's interconnect rates amount to swindling, and are particularly deplorable in a telecommunications environment that is supposedly undergoing deregulation," he says.
The Telkom call rate to VANs' 087 numbers includes the fee that Telkom charges for making a call to another network, and the termination fee which each service provider charges for access to their network. Telkom's charges range from R0,82 to R1,07. "The actual interconnect charge by VANs ranges from R0,38 to R0,63, which means that Telkom has added a whopping R0,44 onto the costs. The consumer will have to bear the pain of this additional charge. Once again Telkom is ensuring that South Africa's call costs remain among the highest in the world."
He adds that the retail call charges - and Icasa's ratification of them - fly in the face of the communications minister's stated goal of reducing telecommunications costs.
Du Toit is urging service providers to dish out as many 087 numbers as possible. "We need to get our numbers out there - the more people have VAN numbers, the more consumers will have the ability to bypass the Telkom network and the expensive interconnect fee."

Others who read this also read these articles

Search Site

Search Directory

  • Search for:


Previous Issues