Mon | Sep 25, 2017

FLOW Jamaica to spend $10b on service upgrades

Published:Sunday | August 20, 2017 | 8:00 AMSteven Jackson
FLOW Jamaica Managing Director Stephen Price.

Telecommunications provider Cable & Wireless Jamaica (C&WJ), which trades as FLOW, plans to connect more than 200 communities with improved 4G mobile and digital cable services this year.

"We are investing over $10 billion in our network this year. This will be spread across both our mobile and fixed networks," said Managing Director Stephen Price in response to Gleaner queries this week.

The capital outlay is about 10 per cent more than the $9.1 billion spent a year earlier.

The telecom plans a multi-service access nodes (MSAN) expansion project to facilitate the delivery of FLOW TV and higher Internet speed packages to "220 communities across Jamaica", especially in the rural areas. On the mobile side, FLOW is investing in new LTE sites in St Ann, St James, St Catherine, Kingston, and Manchester, and will be rolling out new 4G sites nationwide, Price said.

Also, C&WJ business customers will benefit from a new switch technology to improve redundancy. Price describes the technology as a new Multi-Protocol Label Switching (MPLS) network, saying it will provide business customers "with a scalable fault tolerant network designed to provide greater redundancy and further eliminate the potential for single points of failure".

Other key investment projects for this year include the telecom's Aerial to Underground Fibre Migration Project, meant to improve service reliability by mitigating service interruptions due to damage to aerial cables caused by vandalism, motor vehicle accidents, burns and other incidents.

"We are also upgrading our cable modem termination system to the latest high capacity and high availability platform, which will deliver high-speed data services," Price said.

C&WJ made a quarterly profit of $222 million for the June second quarter, concurrent with an 11 per cent spike in sales to $6.8 billion.

Its regulator, however, plans to slash fixed line termination costs by more than half, which could affect future revenues, but the likely impact on customer usage is unknown.

Price said that C&WJ continues to contest that determination by the Office of Utilities Regulation.

"We have utilised the statutory provisions for reconsideration of the decision and we await the outcome," he said.

steven.jackson@gleanerjm.com