By NEIL HARTNELL
Tribune Business Editor
The Bahamas Telecommunications Company’s (BTC) top executive believes there are “chinks in the armour” at Cable Bahamas that it can exploit to win back market share.
Garfield “Garry” Sinclair, pictured, BTC’s chief executive, told Tribune Business that the carrier’s “far superior” TV product and fibre-to-the-home infrastructure gave it every opportunity to attract consumers based on the “huge reservoir of goodwill” for incumbent if it can get its act together.
He added that customer feedback suggested many Bahamians were hoping BTC will restore itself to its “glory days”, and that they would be willing to switch from Cable Bahamas as their TV/Internet provider if the former government-owned monopoly can provide the right products and prices.
Asked how BTC can compete with Cable Bahamas, given the latter’s long-entrenched dominance of the TV/video and broadband Internet markets, Mr Sinclair voiced optimism that products “superior to the competition” can win back market share provided all parts of the business - especially its trade unions and staff - are all pulling in the same direction.
“What I’ve found is that there are chinks in that armour,” Mr Sinclair told this newspaper of the BISX-listed communications provider. “Customer feedback says they are no more enamoured with Cable than BTC’s old copper service.
“We have a compelling network proposition. Our IPTV product is far superior to the competition. I think we’re well-positioned in areas that have fibre to the home and our copper overlay. We agree the old copper service was not compelling. We’ve over-built that service in the east with fibre-to-the-home passing 37,000 homes.
“In certain areas of the island where we’ve introduced the overlay, that’s going to do more and expand the life of the network. We’re certainly offering IPTV and broadband services that are superior to the competition, and customers are extremely happy and telling us. We’re well-positioned to compete.”
Mr Sinclair admitted that BTC had failed to exploit these strengths because it had previously failed to perform in other key areas, such as sales and marketing, technical support and installation. “Where we’ve fallen down is in our sales capacity,” he conceded, while arguing that these issues had now been addressed.
The BTC chief said BTC’s TV and broadband Internet market share had been at 10 percent and 30 percent, respectively, when he took up his post in August 2018. He added that the carrier was now well-equipped to make inroads on Cable Bahamas’ home ground by capitalising on BTC’s legacy brand recognition and customer loyalty towards the carrier.
“All we have to be is aligned, and if we are aligned we can do this in a very short space of time,” Mr Sinclair told Tribune Business. “There is a huge reservoir of goodwill out there for the BTC business with the Bahamian public.
“Everyone out there tells me they wish we would win and get back to our glory days. They say: ‘I switched, but would come back’. The average Bahamian and customer wants to see BTC succeed and win.
“It’s their nostalgic provider of choice, but if they’re not getting the services, products and prices they want, they won’t switch. There’s this enormous reservoir of goodwill to tap into once we’re better aligned.”
A potential opening could be created for BTC if Cable Bahamas becomes distracted with deleveraging its balance sheet to address the $442m in long-term debt taken on to finance its US and mobile expansions.