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Merger a plus for Caribbean, says C&W


Merger a plus for Caribbean, says C&W

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The planned merger of Cable & Wireless and Columbus Communications in the Caribbean could well be a boon for accelerating the roll-out of broadband in Barbados and the wider region.

An analysis by Cable & Wireless says if its proposal to merge the regional operations of the two companies, which trade as LIME and Flow, respectively, is approved by the regulators, it could provide the best chance to improve the Caribbean’s communications infrastructure. The London-based company said the merger would result in an expansion of Internet access and “leading backhaul connections across the region that will help attract more foreign direct investment….”

Barbados already has 100 per cent basic telephone access and a higher average of cellphone usage. But broadband access, including fibre to the home and business remain a critical missing link. Government and industry watchers say broadband access is fundamental to economic growth.

An Inter-American Bank study published in 2012 by Antonio Zaballos and Ruben Lopez-Rivas reported that in Latin America and the Caribbean on average an increase in ten per cent broadband penetration created 67 016 jobs, an increase of 3.19 per cent of gross domestic product and a 2.61 per cent productivity increase. The International Telecommunications Union has also noted this direct co-relation between broadband access and economic and social development.

The Cable & Wireless analysis argued the proposed merger is better value for the consumer and the country, with a faster, better delivery of mobile, fixed, broadband and television services as well as quad play. Quad play refers to an offering of broadband, telephone, cellular and television services.

The company cited another benefit as strengthening LIME’s position as the second largest information and communication technology provider in the region.

It said Digicel is the region’s dominant player with more than double the subscribers of Cable & Wireless Caribbean and Columbus combined. This is in part due to its reported acquisition over the past ten years of more than 20 businesses which include television and telecommunication entities. (HH)