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Cable and Wireless Communications (CWC) completed the acquisition of fellow Caribbean telecoms provider Columbus international in March 2015. The $1.85bn acquisition is a significant milestone in the Caribbean telecoms sector and marks an expansion of CWC’s market in the region. The newly merged company has set targets to address the issues that are denting CWC’s market share in the Caribbean.
CWC is a full-service communications provider operating as Lime in the Caribbean (excluding Bahamas), BTC in Bahamas, and Cable and Wireless in Panama. It offers mobile, broadband, TV, and fixed-line services, and IT service offerings through Cable and Wireless Business Solutions. Columbus provides digital cable television, broadband Internet, and digital landline telephony in Trinidad, Jamaica, Barbados, Grenada, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, St. Lucia, and Curacao under the brand name Flow, and in Antigua under the brand name Karib Cable.
After the Columbus acquisition, CWC is set to start operations as a new and enlarged entity in the Caribbean, with a primary focus on improving support for its existing network and adding quad-play services to its portfolio. This deal might prove to be a game changer for CWC, which is struggling with a reputation of poor customer support, limited innovation, and high prices and which has failed to make a huge impact on the Caribbean market. Strategically, CWC will try to cash in on the reputation of the Columbus brand in the region, and its main focus will be to improve customer-support services and combine the CWC mobile footprint and fixed-line infrastructure with Columbus’ subsea network, cable TV operations, and fiber networks to begin offering quad-play services.
The newly formed company will have to focus on delivering next-generation TV services and broadband services, and on constructing networks that are capable of supporting an ever-growing demand for data and video capabilities to gain market share in the Caribbean. Also, CWC has to focus more on network infrastructure quality and superior TV content at competitive rates, with additional products and services for B2B and B2G customers.
The combined Columbus/CWC entity is one of the biggest players in the Caribbean and Andean region, so the responsibility to provide high-quality, transparent services is immense. There are ample opportunities to improve its brand value, but only if the implementation goes as planned. The company’s new slogan, “Better Together,” will prove true if CWC is able to harness the reputation and technology of Columbus and come up with plans that benefit customers.
Amit Kumar Rai, Analyst, North and South America
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