BRIDGETOWN, Barbados, Friday July 17, 2015 – Cable & Wireless Communications (C&W) has officially launched its retail brand, Flow, saying goodbye to LIME and promising that Barbados would be in line for major investments.
The company said it is investing US$160 million into the country as it rolls out the new brand following its merger with Flow’s parent company Columbus Communications. The country is also in the running to be the location for the company’s regional call centre.
The disclosures were made at a media briefing that followed an in-house event at which approximately 500 employees of LIME and Flow became one – the first of such exercises in the region as the new brand is rolled out over the next 12 months.
“We are investing in Barbados approximately US$160 million over the next few years,” said C&W’s chief executive officer Phil Bentley, adding that Barbados would also get a share of the 500 jobs that will be created over the next two years.
“The story of this merger is investing and bringing world-class telecommunications to Barbados . . . Barbados is a very important market. It is the first launch of the new brand and then we will roll over the Flow branding across all our old LIME and Cable & Wireless markets. The next island will be Jamaica . . .”
The first two islands to say goodbye to LIME are also the only two under consideration for the new entity’s call centre.
Bentley also disclosed that there may be some job losses with the merger, but assured more would come on stream later.
“If we have two people doing the same job we will look to see if we can retrain people, but if we can’t we may have to let some people go but . . . we are incorporating all of our engineering. In the past, Cable & Wireless outsourced that to third-party contractors; we are bringing those jobs into the home company, we are building a technology centre in Trinidad in connection with the UWI to train and develop engineers. We will create over 500 jobs in the Caribbean over the next two years,” he said.
Bentley also told the media that the company was ready for Mobile Number Portability (MNP), but had more to do to be able to offer Local Number Portability (LNP).
As one of the conditions of giving its approval for the merger, the Fair Trading Commission (FTC) had indicated that the merged entity had to be technically ready for LNP by September 30, 2015 and MNP by November 30, 2015.
“In mobile we are ready, but in fixed it takes a bit longer, simply because we have a lot of exchanges around the island. We have to do quite a bit of work, but we will be ready for that,” Bentley assured.
One other FTC stipulation was that one set of the fibre cables in each of the areas where LIME and Flow networks overlapped be divested.
A new trustee has been chosen to oversee that sale, and Bentley said there were 14 expressions of interest, including from local investors.
“It is a ready-made network and we are hoping to get a decent price for that network,” he said, although declining to reveal how much the company hoped to get for it.
Country Manager of the new Flow, Niall Sheehy, said the company is positioning Barbados to become the first country in the world with 100 per cent Fibre-to-the-Home (FTTH) broadband connectivity. The aim is to make that a reality by the end of this year.