SWEEPING CHANGES in its operating environment have changed the game for Vox Telecom [JSE:VOX]. In particular, a change in interconnect regime – referring to the rates telecommunications providers pay to each other for connecting calls – have all but destroyed the market for Vox’s Orion subsidiary, which specialises in least-cost routing services. But Vox saw the change coming and planned for it.
The company’s Cristal Vox product (via its Datapro subsidiary) is part of the plan. Cristal Vox is essentially a holistic telecoms service that takes advantage of South Africa’s new regulatory stances on telecoms, including the landmark ruling in 2008 that made it possible for providers to self-provision networks.
Through Cristal Vox the company is able to take over former Telkom numbers – such as those in the 011 range for Johannesburg or 021 for Cape Town – thanks to geographic number portability. Vox has been migrating Orion customers on to the new Cristal Vox system, which has the added advantage of allowing for greater revenues from an existing customer base.
In its latest set of results, Vox showed promising signs. For the year ended August 2010 its gross profit and margins held steady at R521m and 25% respectively. Revenues showed signs of erosion in its least-cost routing business, but Vox Core – the group’s provider of wholesale network services – grew its revenues by 311%. The group’s executive said it was on track with moving Orion customers on to Cristal Vox.
Vox has planned well and is weathering the storm in its operating environment. It’s changed with the times and remains a relevant player in the industry. But we’re calling “hold” for now until we see its next set of results.