Cable & Wireless responds to critics
Amid mounting concerns and criticisms, officials of Cable & Wireless Communications (CWC) are insisting that its proposed merger with Columbus International is the best thing for Barbados and the region.
In response to a statement issued by the Eastern Caribbean Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (ECTEL) regarding the more than $3 billion deal and the impact it could have on regional telecoms, CWC said it welcomed their commitment to “understanding fully the impact of this transaction”, adding that “naturally, in any large deal relating to operations in 42 Latin American and Caribbean countries, there will be concerns in the six markets where overlapping operations exist”.
Since the announcement of the deal earlier this month, a number of groups and individuals have voiced concerns about job losses, including main rival Digicel, which is also worried that CWC will take control of the market.
However, CWC said in a statement: “We are committed to ensuring that customer choice and competition are promoted by our transaction. Columbus and CWC senior management have been meeting with governments and regulators in those six countries affected by the merger – St Vincent & the Grenadines, Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago, and Barbados this week – and we plan to visit St Lucia and Grenada next week, as well as to meet with the ECTEL executive to address concerns raised”.
CWC promised residents that once they obtained the necessary clearance, LIME and Flow customers could look forward to “a full range of exciting new products, with unmatched quality of networks and download speeds, savings on their current prices, and an improvement in overall service levels”.
The company added that it would be updating customers on “new plans” once discussions with the regulators and governments were finalized.
“We have been encouraged by the open conversations with some of the key stakeholders impacted by this announcement. The facts are that this transaction will bolster competition against our larger competitor that had also bid for the same Columbus assets. It will also increase customer choice and boost long-term investment and employment across the Caribbean. We firmly believe that this transaction will be received positively by our customers and governments alike,” said the company.
Meanwhile, LIME Barbados’ Chief Executive Officer Oliver Chatten said the proposed merger was “the best chance to create a 21st century telecom operator”.
Saying that the companies would become stronger, faster and smarter, Chatten added that globally the industry was “moving towards converged mobile and fixed telecommunications”.
“With this proposed merger we can become a leading quad play provider combining CWC’s mobile strengths, and our broadband infrastructure with Columbus’ video strengths,” said Chatten.
The Lime official added that the proposed merger would also help the company better address customers’ needs.
“Customers are more demanding. They expect higher levels of innovation and service and they want more contributions to the social and economic development of the community. With our combined strengths and assets, the proposed merger will help us meet those needs for customers as it will allow mobile customers to benefit from a converged offering such as TV on mobile devices and increased ubiquity of high- speed data connections,” he added.