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BTC To Launch LTE This Year

While the Bahamas Telecommunications Company (BTC) is only weeks away from completing upgrades to its 4G network, it is now embarking on long term evolution better known as LTE.

LTE is a standard for wireless data communications technology and an evolution of the GSM.

BTC Chief Executive Officer Geoff Houston said it’s part of ongoing upgrades at the company.

“Network upgrades are never complete because we are always going to find new areas, new buildings to cover and so we will continue to evolve there. For the coverage footprint, we will be done with that by the end of this month and then we will just continue to tidy up and fine tune,” he said in an interview with The Bahama Journal.

“Then we will look at the next generation which is now LTE. We are now trialling LTE. In fact, we are seeing speeds of up to 20 megabits for some mobile devices. So that is the next evolution of the mobile side and then we have our next generation network and our high speed broadband network that we will continue to roll out. That is going to be a continuing thing for 2013 to move our landline network to our next generation network so that we can provide more broadband service across The Bahamas.”

So far, BTC has spent close to $100 million on upgrades, Mr. Houston said.

“We are going to invest that much over the next couple of years again to make sure that we have the best we can for all our customers here in The Bahamas,” he said.

According to the CEO, besides introducing the next generation network, BTC is looking to roll out its cable television offering.

“Some of our engineers are enjoying the cable television right now as we speak and that’s a big thing for us. But the big one for us is our higher speed upgrades. So while we have 4G today, we want to have LTE and that’s coming up in speeds up to 10 times faster than 4G,” Mr. Houston said.

“The LTE is a two-year programme for us. It’s something that we committed to with URCA, our granting of spectrum from us. We are hoping that will come within a particular timeframe certainly within two years but places like Abaco, Grand Bahama and New Providence will be done by this year.”

Lately, BTC has been going head to head with Cable Bahamas in a bid to hold on to customers for its landline service.

Mr. Houston said the company is keeping up with competition.

“Our landline is $16.25 and that gives you true free calls to anyone in The Bahamas. I don’t think many of our competitors can duplicate that. In fact, many customers of the competitors are shocked to find out that when thy call outside to a Family Island they get a charge for it. There are other pricing features around our landline that we are going to work on but we need to do that in full consultation with URCA,” he said.

“Our high speed broadband is 50 per cent lower than our competitor. So we feel that we have a good affordable product. But what we need to work on more is communicating that to our competitors.”

Mr. Houston said the company is looking to transform itself in many ways.

“We have come through an 18 to 20 month programme of transforming the networks and that has been preoccupying our time. It is not easy to change out the complex areas that we have done and we understand that that has created a few issues as well,” he said.

“Since we have rolled out our new retail formula that has been challenging for us as a company. Can we change and adapt our culture to the demands of our customers? That’s one of things that we are looking to do in 2013. We are going to make 2013 the year that we try to evolve our organisation where people learn how to adapt to our customer’s needs and focus on the detail of the service to ensure that we are better.”

Written by Jones Bahamas

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