By NEIL HARTNELL
Tribune Business Editor
The Bahamas Telecommunications Company (BTC) is aiming to launch its long-trumpeted TV service later this year, after operating profits rose 7 per cent to $128 million in the year to end-April 2014.
Phil Bentley, Cable and Wireless Communications (CWC) chief executive, confirmed that BTC was aiming to roll-out an Internet Protocol (IP) TV service in the Bahamas, drawing on its controlling shareholder’s experience in Panama and other Caribbean markets such as Barbados.
“We’re looking at the Bahamas later this year,” Mr Bentley said, revealing that CWC was viewing the TV roll-out as a way to offset declining fixed-line voice revenues and bolster its broadband Internet offering.
The CWC chief, speaking to London-based analysts at the company’s results conference for the year to end-April 2014, revealed that it was transitioning from a “holding” business to one that was increasingly focused on operations.
CWC is now looking to run BTC and its 14 other Caribbean businesses as a much tighter, more efficient ship, treating them as a homogeneous unit with a common set of policies and business practices. It is also seeking to centralise certain functions, such as procurement, and slash the number of vendors it uses.
The new strategy was unveiled after BTC accounted for almost 43 per cent of CWC’s total Caribbean EBITDA (earnings before interest, taxation, depreciation and amortisation) for the 12 months to end-April 2014.
Buoyed by its now-expired monopoly, BTC’s own EBITDA rose 7 per cent year-over-year to $128 million, largely on the back of lower operating costs. CWC’s Caribbean EBITDA jumped 8 per cent to $298 million.
With the introduction of Long-Term Evolution Technology(LTE), CWC said mobile date growth in the Bahamas rose by 13 per cent year-over-year.
“We are seeing attractive growth in mobile data, driven by growing smartphone penetration and underpinned by investments in the latest 4G mobile network technology and LTE, which we have launched in Cayman and the Bahamas,” Mr Bentley said in a statement.
BTC and Panama also combined to generate $20 million of the $77 million annual run-rate savings that CWC enjoyed in its 2013-21014 financial year from its cost reduction programme.
CWC is aiming to realise $100 million in annual savings by the end of its 2014-2015 financial year, and Caribbean headcount has already been reduced by 36 per cent - a move that has saved $29 million.
CWC said in a statement: “The performance of BTC in the Bahamas, our largest Caribbean market, was good, as we launched new mobile and fixed networks, and prepared the business for mobile competition that is expected to arrive later this year.
“In 2013/14 we made investments to introduce high-speed LTE mobile networks in Cayman and the Bahamas, as well as laying fibre networks in Barbados and Cayman.”