Digicel, CWC interested in partnership with Curaçao’s UTS – Caribbean
OECS wants to eliminate roaming fees – Caribbean, Saint Lucia
4G deployment boosts CWC revenue – Caribbean, Regional
Roundup: GSMA, Canto, Internet Society, Subtel Wi-Fi – Regional
Samsung takes Tizen to LatAm via smart TVs – Regional


Digicel, CWC interested in partnership with Curaçao’s UTS – Caribbean

Caribbean-centric telcos Digicel and Cable & Wireless Communications (CWC) have both expressed interest in a strategic partnership with Curaçao’s United Telecommunication Services (UTS).
In a leaked letter dated January 28 and cited by The Daily Herald, UTS Director Paul De Geus urged shareholders to make a prompt decision before the possibly brief “window of opportunity” closed. Shareholders reportedly agreed to hold meetings in December and January, but they did not take place.
The acquisition of Barbados-based Columbus International by CWC in November was what sparked this sense of urgency, together with the public animosity that CWC and Digicel have been showing towards each other since the announcement of the US$3.02bn merger.
Jamaica-based Digicel, which still controls the Caribbean mobile market and is present in 25 countries – as opposed to CWC’s 14 locations around the region – questioned the validity of the transaction and called on several regional regulators to look into it. So far, the Jamaican government has greenlighted the merger, arguing there was nothing they could do but ask for certain conditions from the companies to ensure fair competition.
Digicel initially stated that it would cut back on investment in the area, since the CWC-Columbus merger would unbalance competition.
Digicel has a presence in Curaçao, whereas CWC is currently absent – although it would enter the market should its merger with Columbus, which operates in Curaçao under the name brand Flow, go ahead.
Currently, the Curaçao government owns 87.5% of UTS, with the remaining 12.5% owned by the government of St. Maarten. UTS is present in six markets in the Caribbean. It also used to own Suriname’s Uniqa, which was sold in January.

OECS wants to eliminate roaming fees – Caribbean, Saint Lucia

The St Lucia-based Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) has called on local operators to eliminate roaming fees between member nations, the St Lucia Times reported.
“We want the removal of roaming,” said director general Didacus Jules. “If OECS is a single economic space, the same way you can make a call from Castries to Vieux fort [in St Lucia], you should make a call from Castries to St Georges [in Grenada] or Castries to St John’s [in Antigua]. It cannot be a roaming call.”
OECS has focused its efforts on making telecommunications more accessible to consumers.
Jules criticized telecom operators in the region that have called on governments to impose a tax on VoIP services, arguing these services hurt their business.
VoIP services have reduced the cost of doing business and has produced benefits for families by allowing them to keep in touch with their loved ones, said Jules. “It cannot be subject to taxation and so on because it is a real material benefit,” he added.
However, telcos have been backed by regional regulators. In December Jamaica’s utilities watchdog OUR resolved to regulate and tax VoIP telephony providers.
OUR had started an investigation in July after LIME and Digicel blocked Israeli VoIP service Viber, which allowed phone calls over the internet using smartphones.

4G deployment boosts CWC revenue – Caribbean, Regional

Cable & Wireless Communications (CWC) posted 5% year-on-year growth in global revenue during fiscal Q3 ending December 31, to US$444mn.
Mobile revenue, which made up 53% of the total, was up 4%, mostly driven by the Caribbean and Panama, which were up 10% and 4%, respectively. Subscriber growth in Jamaica reached 18%, which drove growth in the LIME region.
Investment in 4G deployment helped boost revenue in Barbados and the Cayman Islands by 6% and 3%, respectively. LTE was also launched in Antigua, prompting mobile revenue to grow 22%.
Broadband and TV revenue were flat compared to the previous year, despite continued TV subscriber growth in Panama at around 19%.

Roundup: GSMA, CANTO, Internet Society, Subtel Wi-Fi – Regional

The GSMA and Colombian mobile operators have announced a series of joint initiatives to enhance mobile coverage and reduce the impact on the environment throughout the country.
The initiative includes the participation of Claro, Telefónica Movistar and Tigo, trade association Asomóvil, Colombia’s ICT ministry (Mintic) and the environment and sustainable development ministry. It focuses on improving network coverage, managing e-waste, reducing handset theft and speeding disaster response in Colombia.
CANTO and the Internet Society have joined forces to promote Internet development and education programs in the Caribbean region.
Canto secretary general Regenie Fräser commented that the agreement would “help assist our region and members in getting up to speed on internet matters and challenges, such as IP numbering, VoIP blocking, and cybersecurity.”
Jamaica’s government has said it plans to regulate and also collect tax from voice-over-internet protocol (VoIP) telephony providers in the wake of a controversy involcing Caribbean operators Digicel and LIME, which attempted to block unlicensed VoIP service providers from their networks.
Chile’s telecoms regulator Subtel announced it has added 72 free Wi-Fi access points in 18 communities in Araucanía (IX) region.
Chile has been installing free public Wi-Fi hotspots throughout the country as part of its 2013-20 digital agenda.
Subtel awarded phase three of its ChileGob public Wi-Fi hotspot project in December, adding six regions to the program for an investment of 1.8bn pesos (US$2.93mn).

Samsung takes Tizen to LatAm via smart TVs – Regional

Electronics giant Samsung is taking its proprietary operating system Tizen to Latin America via its new generation of smart TVs.
The announcement was made at the company’s Samsung Forum 2015, being held this week in Monaco.
At the conference, Samsung announced that its Tizen-embedded SUHDTV, the company’s latest smart TV model, unveiled at the CES show in Las Vegas in January, would be available in Latin American markets in March.
Previous TV models – Ultra HD, full HD and SUHDTV – will also be embedded with the operating system, while TV models that have “evolution kits” available will also be able to upgrade to Tizen.
With regard to promoting development of the Tizen ecosystem in Latin America, Samsung’s Smart TV Content & Services Manager for LatAm Priscila Grison said the company will offer courses and training to students and developers at the two developer support centers it runs in Brazil.
In other countries in the region, Samsung will carry out specific Developer Day events to promote the ecosystem, the executive said.
Samsung also presented forecasts for the Latin American smart and flat TV industry. The company expects the total LatAm HD TV market to grow by 30% this year, reaching 2mn units sold this year.
Meanwhile, the segment of ultra high definition (UHD) models alone is expected to grow 150%. Globally, the niche of curved screens is posed to jump by 325% this year.
Grison told BNamericas that TVs have the option to embed the Tizen operating system due to the characteristics of the ecosystem and because smart TVs are the segment in which embedding has advanced most.
Created in HTML 5, Tizen is Samsung’s strategy to gradually reduce its dependence on the equally open-source platform Android, from Google, although company executives said the two operating systems will coexist for the foreseeable future.
According to Samsung’s VP for corporate and marketing for Latin America, Mário Lafitte, Tizen and Android are both part of the company’s multiplatform strategy, and the latter will continue to be embedded it its products, particularly in the company’s mobile devices.

The information presented and opinions expressed herein are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of CANTO and/or its members