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FLOW Jamaica applies for LTE spectrum for high speed Internet

Published:Wednesday | July 27, 2016 | 7:00 AMSteven Jackson

Cable & Wireless Jamaica, which trades as FLOW, invested $8.8 billion in its operations in year ending March 2016, with plans to add a higher-speed LTE mobile Internet to its arsenal.

The company avoided listing a timeline for the roll-out of LTE but indicated that it wants to bolster its spectrum to deliver a faster service.

"We have applied for additional LTE spectrum in support of our future network expansion plans to ensure that we continue providing a first-class mobile experience for our customers," said FLOW Jamaica Managing Director Garfield Sinclair, who heads the local operations in the annual report 2016.

The company rolled out 4G mobile service within FY2016 but was beat on LTE by main rival Digicel, which launched its network in June, albeit to a discrete geographic segment.

FLOW Jamaica's capital investments at $8.8 billion in 2016 outpaced capex in FY2015, when the company spent $10.8 billion.

In May 2016, Liberty Global completed the acquisition of FLOW Jamaica's parent Cable & Wireless Communications in a transaction valued at US$7.4 billion on an enterprise value basis. Liberty is the world's largest TV and broadband company with operations in more than 30 countries in Europe, Latin America and the Caribbean.

It followed a separate merger in March 2015 when CWC acquired Columbus International, which resulted in the merger of the operations of CWJ and Columbus Communications Jamaica (FLOW).

"The combination of CWC and Liberty Global's Latin America and Caribbean group creates the leading consumer and busines-to-business communications provider in the region, serving 10 million video, voice, broadband and mobile subscribers in more than 20 countries," said Sinclair. "At this time, we are not expecting any operational changes here in Jamaica, but we intend to leverage their customer-service experience, access to capital and high quality video content for the benefit of all our stakeholders."

Cable & Wireless Jamaica made its first profit since 2007. The company posted net profit of $1.16 billion on turnover of $23 billion at year end 2016, a vast improvement on the net loss of $8.8 billion in 2015. Its shareholders equity stands at negative $28.13 billion from negative $32.7 billion a year earlier.

"The public perception of the company improved over the last year, and with more exciting service initiatives on the way, we are sure this trend will continue," said Chairman Mark Kerr-Jarrett. "C&W Jamaica demonstrated its exceptionally high commitment and resilience that has resulted in the company reporting an annual profit for the first time since 2007," he said.

steven.jackson@gleanerjm.com