Ozone Wireless is clinging to life, four months after buckling under severe financial difficulties.
This morning St Lucia-based telecommunications consultant with Ozone Lester Edwards, in an exclusive interview with Barbados TODAY revealed that the company has taken measures to boost its signal to impacted customers and will also be concentrating on growing its customer base.
Two months ago, Ozone was dealt a severe blow when Flow, a major player in the local telecommunications market, took action against the one-year-old company because of outstanding debt. Flow denied Ozone access to its cell towers, leaving affected customers with coverage from Digicel cell sites only.
However, Ozone is fighting back.
With the customer base falling to 700 from 1700 in the last two months since their much larger competitor pulled the plug on the use of their signal antennas, Ozone is working on stopping the hemorrhaging.
“We have worked on a couple more towers to make sure that we continue service to our customers. The goal is to have island-wide coverage as soon as possible. I am sure that people have put on their devices and would have seen that they have service,” Edwards said while making it clear that the mobile company was not about to “give up the ghost”.
“At this point we are intent on growing the customer base and increasing customer satisfaction. There will be changes coming soon in light of this thrust because it is all about the customer from now on. At the moment there are investors seeking to come on board but there is not much we can report on that because talks are still ongoing,” he said.
Over the weekend customers reported fewer blackout spots when using the Ozone service which had reduced coverage to only a third of the island. This morning affected customers in the north of the island reported signs of mobile life for the first time in months.
“For the last two months I was not receiving service on my mifi (device) in St James but over the weekend it started back working and it hasn’t stopped. So I am hoping it continues because I was really getting fed up,” said one customer who spoke to Barbados TODAY on condition of anonymity.
“The moment I leave work [in Bridgetown] I was not getting any service at all and I was only keeping the phone because they were not asking me to pay the bill. I was really happy when it started working again,” said St Peter resident Janice Ifill.
However when asked about the company’s approach to the $1.5 million debt to Flow, Edwards was tight-lipped about negotiations, noting only that a number of investors have expressed an interest in the company’s recovery.
During a press conference in September, Chief Executive Officer of Ozone Wireless Dr Nicholas Kelly said the development with Flow had left the struggling mobile provider solely dependent on Digicel’s antennas, with no guarantees on when full service would be restored.
At that time Kelly said the company owed $8 million to over 50 creditors, and would undertake a three-year debt re-profiling programme. He had also divulged that the company was sending home 80 per cent of its workforce while suspending all debt payments.