by Shawn Cumberbatch
Current players in Barbados’ already competitive telecommunications and broadcast markets are in line for a major dose of new competition with seemingly deep pockets.
It will also mean additional investment of about $120 million for the island and up to 300 “direct employment opportunities”, Barbados TODAY was informed.
Months after sealing a deal and completing the purchase of established telephone and broadband data services operator TeleBarbados Inc., American company Columbus International Inc. has signed an agreement to buy new Barbadian market entrant Kelcom International Limited, better known as Karib Cable.
In a deal sources said was worth about US$30 million, the purchase of Karib Cable, which has already been granted Barbados telecommunications and broadcast licences and will offer cable television, Internet, fixed line telephone and telecommunications services using a fibre network, is part of a Columbus effort to expand its Caribbean footprint, officials said.
Columbus Communications Corporate Vice President, Sales and Marketing, Rhea Yaw Ching, communicating from Fort Lauderdale Florida, told Barbados TODAY her company’s business operating under the Flow brand would be launched here next month.
“It is anticipated that the transaction will close some time in the second quarter following the notification of all applicable regulatory authorities. In Barbados specifically, all Karib Cable customers will be migrated over to Flows network and be offered its full triple play suite of services following our launch. We will officially be launching the Flow Brand in April. You will get more information on that soon,” she said.
Noting that the investment in Barbados would be about $120 million and the jobs created between 200 and 300 directly, Ching said while the company had not finalised its product offerings for this market, they would be providing customers with a “video product” with “a full suite of Digital High Definition and 3D Programming, as well as Video On Demand and a cloud-based personal video recording service”.
“We will also introduce our very own multi-platform viewing experience called Flow ToGo. On broadband,†Flow customers will be able to access affordable broadband as well as our fastest speeds.†Our landline telephony product will also be very competitive and with our Flow ToGo application, customers will be able to access their home phone from anywhere that there is a wireless or 4G connection,” she said.
“For commercial customers, Columbus Business Solutions will facilitate the increasing demand for ICT and Managed Services. The portfolio includes dedicated Internet access … and a specifically designed broadband, video and voice offering for small and medium enterprise customers.†In addition we will be [in] Barbados launching cloud-based technology solutions.”†
Columbus Chairman and CEO Brendan Paddick said in a statement that the Kelcom/Karib Kable transaction “marks another important milestone for Columbus as we expand our service footprint to deliver our brand of services across the Caribbean region”.
Company management said that once the acquisition was completed “Columbus’ retail operations will span eight countries across the region, pass more than 750,000 households and businesses and serve in excess of 500,000 retail customers, further strengthening the company’s position as the leading triple play service provider in the Caribbean”.
Last year when Karib Cable was launched here Managing Director Kelly Glass said the company, which has operated in the Caribbean since 1987, was “making a significant financial investment of $65 million in Barbados and the plant will be set up and run by Barbadian nationals who will possess an intimate knowledge of the Barbados market, its culture and the people”.
And last September when it completed the purchase of TeleBarbados, Columbus said the deal would position it to bring wholesale and retail broadband-enabled services here. (SC)