Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : January 28th 2016 Contents BG4 COVER STORY
BUSINESS GUARDIAN www.guardian.co.tt JANUARY 28 • 2016
With Digicel preparing to celebrate the tenth
anniversary of its commercial launch in T&T
in April, the company says it is ready to deepen
its footprint in this market with a $2 billion
investment in television and broadband serv-
The company now employs about 1,000
people, having started with 80 employees
when it set up shop in Port-of-Spain in 2005,
said Garvin Medera, chief executive officer,
He said the company is competing based
on technology and customer service, it
launched in early January a new brand within
its T&T operations called DigicelPlay, com-
prising television, broadband and landline
services to its customer base using fibre-to-
Fibre-to the home technology is technology
being installed inside the customer s home,
which enables the customer to enjoy faster
broadband speeds and higher quality of serv-
ice.This can be compared to fibre installed out-
side of the customer s home, which does not
bring that increased speed in broadband.
In 2005, Digicel entered the T&T market
breaking the monopoly enjoyed by TSTT,
which resulted in a change in the price of tele-
com services and improved customer service
as players in the sector jostled for market
share. While it entered the T&T market in
December 2005, Digicel s commercial launch
in T&T took place in April 2006, according
to the company s website.
For the last six months, there were a number
of changes in the telecom sector including
Massy announcing in December 2015 that it
was ready to offer cable television and broad-
band to the market.
Digicel s T&T chief executive Sacha Thomp-
son and the head of DigicelPlay, Garvin Medera,
spoke to Business Guardian about the strategic
direction for 2016.
Referring specifically to the technology used
by DigicelPlay, Medera said the company plans
to use technology which would result in the
customer having a faster broadband network:
"What most providers will give to customers
today would be hybrid fibre-coaxial (which is
a term for a broadband network that combines
optical fiber and coaxial cable)."
"It means that they connect fibre to the
curve (outside of the customer s house) and
then they run co-axial cable from that point
into your home."
He explained when fibre is installed only
up to outside of the customer s house, this
slows the speed.
"The challenge with that (method of
installing fibre)---which we (Digicel) obviously
sought to overcome with fibre to the home---
is that you have a limitation with the band-
width coming to the house as a result of the
change-over to copper."
Medera said when DigicelPlay installs fibre
to the home, the fibre is installed inside of
the customer s home and not outside. This
means the fibre does not have to change to
copper before giving the customer the appro-
"With our network, we have spent the
money we have done the investment so we
are now bringing that fibre straight into your
home. It means that there is no buffering;
there is no sharing of space with your neigh-
Medera said when the customer buys
200Mbs they would get that speed consistently
throughout the day.
"Because fibre as a transmission medium
is really unlimited in capacity, it means we
can grow as technology grows and we are not
limited by the copper cables or anything like
Confident that the company can stir com-
petition based on price, he said the cheapest
bundle is $199 which is called PlayFast and
includes 25Mbs of broadband internet, 28 tel-
evision channels, a free home phone which
comes with no monthly rental and free calls
from DigicelPlay phones to DigicelPhones.
"Our prices range according to the packages
people want to put together because our inter-
net goes from 25Mbs, 50,100 and 200."
He said there are different categories of cus-
tomers and therefore each provider would
want to tailor their services to fit the needs
of the customer. This means, he said, there
is no room for a price war.
Commenting on whether there would be a
price war, Thompson said customers are not
going to choose a provider just because of an
inexpensive price, they would be looking at
the quality of service and the quality of the
Referring to the changes in price when Dig-
icel entered the market, she said: "Just like
when mobile came (when Digicel entered the
market) how come now everyone is scrambling
to offer better pricing. We have to wait until
Digicel comes into the market to transform
the way we operate?"
She said the concept of bundling to get sav-
ings is what Digicel introduced to this market
so customers can get savings. The company
is the market leader she said and certainly not
Referring to regulation in the market, Medera
said Digicel has taken note of the Telecom-
munications Authority of T&T (TATT) decision
to ask providers to stop airing channels which
they are not authorized to broadcast.
"For us, we absolutely welcome regulation.
We think that it was important because (the
market) has been liberalized for 10 years. We
see it as something that was essential to set
up the sector in the right way."
Asked whether he though the demand for
the services offered by DigicelPlay would not
be strong due to the slowdown in the local
economy, Medera said customers would be
looking for inexpensive entertainment, therefore
he does not predict that demand for the com-
pany s services would decline.
Commenting on regulation, Thompson said
the company is "at a much better place where
we feel more comfortable that the playing
field is more level."
Regarding TATT s Request for Proposal for
two licences to be awarded to provide 4G LTE
service, Thompson said Digicel has not received
any confirmation about who was awarded the
licence to provide that service.
"We are actually waiting to get word on it.
We are hoping that should TATT issue the
spectrum we would be delighted to offer it to
our customers. We have submitted an RFP
and we think we are quite competitive in it."
Referring to the changed Value Added Tax
rate, Thompson said the company would pass
on the savings to the customer.
Digicel launches fibre to homes
Digicel's T&T chief executive Sacha
Thompson and the head of
DigicelPlay, Garvin Medera
PHOTO SHIRLEY BAHADHUR
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