Chris Dehring Presents ReadyTV
Come December, ReadyTV will be launched by Digital Interactive Services Limited (DISL), a privately owned Jamaican company which has secured a subscriber television licence.
Company directors are Peter Reid; chairman; Chris Dehring , president/CEO; David Cassanova; Orville Burrell (Shaggy); Gerard Borely , formerly chief financial officer of Cable and Wireless Caribbean, and Magnus Johansson. Gerard and Magnus are nationals of Trinidad and Tobago and Sweden, respectively.
In an interview with The Gleaner, Dehring said DISL which will trade as ReadyTV, is headquartered in Jamaica, but will definitely have Caribbean aspirations for not just subscriber television, but other related telecommunications services in the future.
"Currently, our network operating centre is being set up in New Kingston, but we expect to have a retail presence in major cities and towns as we roll out our services islandwide," Dehring said.
DISL which was registered and incorporated in Jamaica in 2008, is an independent, privately owned and a uniquely Jamaican company something of which all its principals are proud. Dehring said ReadyTV directors represent a cross-section of the necessary experience and expertise for a telecommunications start-up.
"Peter Reid is a career banker and provides that steady hand to guide our deliberations. As an experienced entrepreneur and leader, I have been tasked to run the day-to-day operations as its first CEO. David is one of the leading exponents of technology and specifically content delivery networks in the region. Shaggy's experience in the global media and entertainment world gives us unparalleled reach and access to content and entertainment knowledge," Dehring said.
He added that Gerard and Magnus have many years' experience working in telecoms in the Caribbean, as well as in Latin America, where Magnus is currently based. Specifically in subscriber television and media, David has been involved in the local cable industry for many years and was a pioneer in the Jamaican cable industry.
To underscore his readiness for the task ahead, Dehring is taking credit rolling out Cable & Wireless' subscriber television services across the Caribbean and negotiating for several years, the global media rights for the ICC Cricket World Cup in 2007, during his tenure with the West Indies Cricket Board.
"As an entrepreneur, I conceptualised and launched Sportsmax, the region's first dedicated sports channel broadcast by TV networks across 26 countries," Dehring boasts.
But with other cable television providers' inadequate customer service across Jamaica, The Gleaner asked Dehring whether Ready TV's "islandwide" coverage included the numerous rural communities that are currently without service.
He said such underserved communities, "represent a significant part of the market we are aiming for. These Jamaican homes deserve to be provided with a choice and we intend to give them that choice."
The ebullient Dehring said another core target market is Jamaicans who simply cannot currently afford reasonable access to cable TV because of how packages are traditionally compiled and priced.
Yet subscriber television remains one of the most important sources of information and education.
"In today's digital information age, it has become almost a human right to have access to cable TV, alongside access to broadband," Dehring said adding that DISL hopes to be the service provider that achieves that digital access by deploying innovative routes of access and unique packaging and pricing options.
Scrap metal theft
DISL's special licence allows it to use both wired and wireless technology but with the widespread cable theft that prevails, is wired technology a good idea?
Dehring said they would deploy state-of-the-art digital technology which will expand the reach of digital content to more Jamaicans than ever before.
The Gleaner also asked whether DISL would be providing the promised 200 channels legally or would customers be cut off after having paid for these channels, because providers had no permits?
Dehring said that while they have the capability to deliver 200 video and audio channels or "services", what will eventually determine the number and mix of services available, is a combination of (i) the available authorised channels, i.e. channels they can secure authorised access to; (ii) the affordability of channel packages for their target customers and (iii) what channels their target market desires access to.
"We want to be the content platform that grows the Jamaican content industry, giving local entrepreneurs the ability to showcase and sell their content on ReadyTV. ReadyTV will always be totally transparent in our pricing and content disclosures, so customers will always know what they are paying for," he said.
So, Dehring is promising that in the event of dropped channels, ReadyTV customers will always get what they pay for.
"Our mantra is to provide cable television when the consumer is ready, putting the control and power in the hands of our customers. If you pay for it, you will get it , often sometimes more, but certainly never less," he told The Gleaner.
The testing phase for the new service will last for a "few months", mainly to test the network and support systems and get feedback from as wide a cross-section of consumers as possible. Those customers will be selected primarily based on geographic location so that DISL can gauge its network performance over a wide coverage area, but there will be some other "fun" ways to become a trial customer which will be announced closer to startup time.
Dehring is promising affordability, convenience and value for the ReadyTV brand. "If you want an affordable cable TV option, all you will have to say is, 'mi ready' and ReadyTV will answer the call.