Elephant Telecom, a newcomer backed by the Evolution Group, the holding company for call centre operator Dialogue Group, has launched a virtual network operator service in South Africa with the promise of offering huge cost savings to businesses in the country. Elephant Telecom plans to market and sell international voice, data and IP telephony services purchased from infrastructure service providers and hopes to steal a march on its rivals by providing business customers savings of up to 40% on fixed line calls and 32% on cellular calls. The company also plans to introduce VoIP services, with calls being routed via data lines at 60% less than the current rate. At launch, the start-up is targeting high usage accounts with a current monthly bill in excess of ZAR5,000. It is trumpeting the purchasing power afforded by Dialogue’s close ties with network operators in the region, and claims that this has already enabled it to secure a number of commercial clients prior to today’s official launch. Elephant Telecom’s entry into the sector is timed to coincide with the imminent deregulation of the market and the end of Telkom’s monopoly next month.