Categorized | National News

BTC To Invest $60M+ To Win Over Internet Market

Bahamas Telecommunications Company (BTC) CEO Geoff Houston says his company will be spending more than $60 million over the next year to launch the nation’s fastest internet service in a bid to win over that segment of the market.

“What we saw when we upgraded our mobile offerings was an almost insatiable appetite among Bahamians for the latest devices, the fastest downloads, the newest, t he best,” Mr. Houston said.

“When we launched 4G – the fastest download speeds available worldwide – mobile voice traffic increased by 60 per cent. Mobile data was up by 800 per cent. Before we upgraded, three per cent of our sales were smart phones. Today, nearly half of all our phone sales are smart phones.”

Mr. Houston was addressing more than 120 business and civic leaders at the ninth annual Abaco Business Outlook recently.

“Six months ago, we were accessing the internet with two gigabits of capacity and we were doing that through a link to Miami,” said Mr. Houston. “It was like trying to suck an elephant through a straw.”

“Today, we are investing more than $60 million to build an infrastructure that will enable long-term development and handle growing demand because the interesting thing is the faster the speed we provide, the more demand there is. The Next Generation Network will increase speed by as much as four times and when we are done, there will be real competition in the internet market and we in The Bahamas will have the Next Generation Network in the entire region.”

According to Mr. Houston, the massive infrastructural project is employing some 50 construction and technical workers at various sites, moving between islands.”

Some of the tasks he said include replacing 20-year-ol radio systems and in some cases, 50-year-old underground cable.

“What we are doing is accomplishing in 18 months what under normal circumstances would take four to five years to complete. When we are done, customers will enjoy a better overall experience with internet and landline service.”

The work includes excavation, ripping out old, antiquated massive cables and replacing them with fibre optic. On more than 50 occasions work has been disrupted by heavy equipment connected with the roadworks project tearing up underground cable, causing crews to be diverted for rebuilding infrastructure and reconnecting service, sometimes to thousands.”

BTC’s Vice President of Field Operations Carl Culmer, who is responsible for the construction, outlined progress of the transformation on an island-by-island basis.

Work in Long Island is close to completion, he said, with the last settlements between Clarence Town, Hamilton and Deadman’s Cay being connected to fibre optic cable.

San Salvador is nearly complete with only stretches between Sandy Point and Cockburn Town and Cockburn Town and United Estates awaiting fibre optic cable.

Teams are on the ground and work is slated for completion by month’s end.

Andros, too, is nearing completion and crews there expect to finish by the end of next week.

In Abaco, work was completed in Man O’ War Cay and Hopetown in March.

“Before we replaced the old radio systems, every time it rained you’d lose service,” Mr. Culmer said.

Work continues as well in pockets of New Providence. Only Acklins presents a challenge because no provision was made for a fibre optic cable connection, he said.

“It’s exciting to see all the work going on and to be part of it. My team has a whole new energy. Some of them have to leave their families behind in Nassau for weeks at a time, but they have a great spirit and great attitude and the competition is fierce to get the job done and to keep everything up and running. It’s really exciting times.”

Written by Jones Bahamas

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