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Latty: Flow not bothered by Digicel's entry in cable market

Published:Wednesday | October 1, 2014 | 12:00 AM
File Managing director of Columbus Communications Jamaica, Sean Latty.

Tameka Gordon, Business Reporter

Columbus Communications Jamaica, operator of Flow, says it is not bothered by Digicel's entry into the cable market, saying its track record, developed over eight years of operation, positions the company to take on new rivals.

While declining to outline the company's strategic response to the new entrant, Sean Latty, who took over as managing director in June, says Flow has confidence in its "first-class network and infrastructure that we have put in place."

"The reality is at some point in time everyone will have the same product suite," Latty told Wednesday Business.

Digicel Group entered the Jamaican cable market in September through acquisition of TelStar Cable. It also acquired majority ownership of International Media Content Limited, parent company of regional sports-broadcasting company, SportsMax, and North American broadcaster CEEN-TV.

Digicel Jamaica CEO Barry O'Brien has said the company aims to create "a new wave of innovation" in the cable TV market.

Latty is taking on a new rival with whom he has some familiarity, having been poached by Flow from Digicel. He has worked in the communications sector for about 14 years, latterly as general manager for Digicel St Vincent, having worked his way up from call centre supervisor at the mobile company.

He said Flow remains focused on adding new products, as well as customer satisfaction, which he described as "the differentiator" as to whether subscribers choose a cable or broadband provider.

"You will see new products coming out in a few months that will actually change the video space and make it more exciting and attractive for us to retain our customers and attract more customers," said Latty.

Digicel has said it would be investing significant capital in the cable network to increase its coverage and expand the products, services and content.

The mobile company's initial purchases is reminiscent of Flow's entry strategy. The company snapped up a number of local players, and with them, their customers, while building out a digital network for its triple-play services.

Still, the largest of the individual operators in the market say they have not been approached by Digicel.

Outside of Flow, Telstar, and LIME's Digital Media Entertainment Limited, the other leading providers in the top 10 are Logic One Limited, Combined Communications Limited, Cornwall Communications Limited, Cabletron Network Systems Limited, Mars Cable Vision Limited, CTL Limited and Starcom Cablevision Limited, as ranked by their customer base to December 2012, according to the Broadcasting Commission.

"It's just words swirling around, we have not been approached," said Dalton Scott, head of Montego Bay-based Cornwall Communications.

Colin O'Sullivan, the chief executive officer of St Catherinebased Combined Communications, says he has no plans to sell.

"We are in it for the long haul and would not consider selling to Digicel," said O'Sullivan.

"The pie is big enough for all us of small operators to not only survive but thrive," he said.