The launch of its full commercial voice service marks Vox Telecom’s coming of age as a telcommunications operator.
This is according to group MD Doug Reed, who adsd: “Cristal Vox is what we’ve been working towards for the past five years. We now offer a complete, fully fledged voice telco service that eliminates the need for a customer to deal with Telkom or Neotel. We’ve cut the Telkom apron strings."
Reed says the service has evolved slowly “because of the slow pace of regulation and delaying tactics by the incumbents, the only remaining obstacles are number portability, asymmetric interconnect agreements, local loop unbundling and carrier preselect capabilities. It’s been a continuous fight, but we’re launching now because most of what we need is now in place – if we wait for the last couple of pieces of the puzzle we might die of old age first.”
The lack of full geographic number portability is the biggest remaining obstacle to full competition, says Reed.
“Nobody wants to change all their phone numbers, but at the moment it’s only possible to port numbers in blocks of 1 000. That eliminates everyone but the biggest corporates. At least we can now offer our own range of geographic numbers, and full portability is promised for next year.”
The Cristal Vox service offers rebates on incoming calls as a well as a full managed service for outbound calls.
“Our customers are saving up to 70% on their business calls,” says Reed. “We’ve saved them a total of R4,5-billion over the past four years even without being allowed to compete on an even footing. With a level playing field, we’ll be able to do so much more.”
Reed is adamant that government regulation is not the route to lower telecommunications prices for South Africans.
“You can’t legislate a price. The only thing that will work is to open up the markets properly and allow more companies to compete. Right now the only company offering a real alternative are ourselves and Neotel. The more the market opens up, the more services customers will have access to and the more they will save.”