The Way Business Is Moving published by
Issue Date: May 2006

Saving and making money

1 May 2006
Paul Booth

Orion Telecom is a privately-owned BEE telecommunications company that is determined to, and guarantees to cut its clients' telecomms expenses. The Orion Telecom of today is the result of the merger of three telecommunications service providers: Orion Telecom, originally established in 1994; Newsnet SA created in 1995; and Redwin Communications formed in 1996.
The company's focus is directed on maintaining its role as a significant player in the telecommunications industry, offering integrated wireless and IP-enabling technologies that plug into legacy systems and leverage the current telecomms investments of its clients. Orion has entered into strategic partnerships with companies who share its commitment to innovation and service.
It identifies partners where their joint strengths can be leveraged to provide the optimum combination of hardware, technical support and maintenance in conjunction with on-going account management and continuous research and development. Simultaneously, the natural scope to promote skills transfer, resource development and technical training is exploited wherever possible. The aforementioned commercial agreements involve a share of profits based upon work share applicable to each venture.
Although offering a multitude of telecommunications services, a significant part of Orion's revenues comes from its Managed Services offering that includes a least cost routing (LCR) capability and guarantees significant savings, typically 35% of Telkom SA's costs on cellular, national and international call costs currently being paid by the client.
The service provider raised its annual turnover to R750 million at its last year-end results.
Additionally, other differentiators of Orion include its 'all inclusive costs' proposition and its national corporate coverage - Orion has operational capabilities in Bloemfontein, Cape Town Durban, East London, Johannesburg, Mmabatho, Nelspruit, Polokwane, Port Elizabeth, Pretoria, Middelburg, Secunda and Upington. Other services include the provision of various messaging solutions that incorporate both e-mail and fax capabilities.
According to Jacques du Toit, a director of Orion, it has its eye on being able to aggregate all 'calls' traffic in the most effective way and to exploit the 'Orion Community' concept that will bring even more savings to the corporate pocket. Du Toit sees a move that would include data as well as voice as something to consider for the future. It would leave the other aspects of data handling to others.
Jacques du Toit, a director of Orion
Jacques du Toit, a director of Orion
"We develop technology to suit the individual needs of our customers and we do not sell generic solutions," he adds. "A major driver of our ongoing success is the fact that we look at each customer as a completely new entity with particular requirements. Customer relationship management is a critical element of our business, as is the fact that we try to absorb as much of the risk posed to clients by Telkom's infrastructure as is possible in the South African telecommunications environment."
Du Toit says the company's insistence on global standards and its focus on skills transfer and development are other factors that have contributed to its success.
Apart from being independent, Orion is also a BEE company with Arch Equity having a 30% shareholding, thus making Orion the first service provider to fully comply with the seven codes of good BEE practice as set out in the ICT Charter and thereby according it with the status of being a Broad Based Black empowerment company.
Looking ahead, Du Toit believes that any national network operator and further deregulation of the telecommunications sector is set to open up broader opportunities for Orion. "The best way for them to attract clients is through a strong carrier; with over 60% of the corporate least cost routing traffic being channelled through Orion, we believe we are an obvious choice. We offer critical mass as well as a strong billing engine."
As the telecommunications liberalisation and deregulation in South Africa gathers steam, there will be more and more entities looking to potentially enter the local telecommunications market to exploit some aspect of this industry sector. Orion is already well established and successful in the niches it has identified as its key areas of focus and this reporter has no doubts that they will continue to flourish.
For more information contact Jacques du Toit, sales and marketing director, Orion Telecom, 011 808 1041,

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