500 new jobs coming - Cable and Wireless promises more employment despite initial indications of US$24m saving in staff cost after buyout of Flow
Arthur Hall, Senior News Editor
Cable and Wireless Communications (CWC) and Columbus International (Columbus) have promised to create more than 500 new jobs between now and 2019 if the planned merger of the two entities is approved.
This promise comes despite initial word from CWC to its shareholders that the acquisition of Columbus, which trades locally as Flow, would result in savings of US$24 million in head-count savings.
While not indicating in which areas the 500 new jobs will be created, CWC had initially stated that the US24 million saving would predominantly come from the duplication of head office and 'back-office' functions.
According to the two entities, a new company is to be formed out of the merger and US$400 million will be spent to expand its broadband infrastructure.
"This merger will result in the most extensive fibre infrastructure ever constructed in the region, providing wider access to all, specifically targeting low-income households. We will ensure that all our customers have affordable access, while also providing industry-leading ... broadband speeds for those customers who want an unparalleled online experience," said CWC's chief executive officer, Phil Bentley, late last week.
Bentley's comments came after the two entities announced what they described as "a groundbreaking customer charter that will guide how the new company would operate following the approval and closing of their merger".
"We will enhance the quality of our customers' experience, as we invest in jobs closer to our Caribbean customers," said Bentley.
He added that in giving customers more choices, the new company will become the leading regional supporter of net neutrality and provide full access to legal 'over-the-top' services.
Bentley also reaffirmed the CWC's commitment to the long-promised local-number portability which will enable customers to exercise the freedom of keeping their telephone numbers, should they choose to switch operators.
"We are keen to facilitate consumer choice - it's our customers who define service excellence - and the freedom to access OTT services and to port mobile or fixed-line telephone numbers is a key element of our strategy," said Bentley.
According to Columbus CEO Brendan Paddick, with the planned introduction of a 'no-contract' service offering, customers will have the ability to transfer landline, video, and broadband services at any time, to any provider.
"Our job is to keep our customers satisfied, and if we do not deliver an exceptional experience, we can't expect their patronage. You can't contract customer loyalty - you have to earn it," said Paddick.
Regional regulators are still poring over the proposed just over US$3 billion merger of the two entities, even as telecommunications rival Digicel continues its call for measures to be put in place to ensure a level playing field if the deal is approved.
Digicel has argued that the new entity will give CWC a virtual monopoly in the areas landline, fixed broadband and cable TV services, and has urged the regulators to take appropriate measures to facilitate a vibrant, competitive market in these areas.