By NEIL HARTNELL
Tribune Business Editor
The Bahamas Telecommunications Company (BTC) suffered an eight percent year-over-year top-line decline during the 2020 first quarter, it was revealed yesterday, with revenues dipping below the $50m mark.
BTC’s parent, Liberty Latin America (LiLAC), unveiling figures for the three months to end-March 2020, disclosed that BTC’s revenues fell by $4.3m - from $53.6m in the prior year to $49.3m - in a period during which the full COVID-19 impact only emerged during the last two weeks.
However, there was better news for BTC on the mobile subscriber front where the figures suggested that the loss of customers to its rival Aliv continues to slow. The Bahamian carrier suffered a less than one percent drop in total subscriber numbers during the quarter, which only dropped by 1,700 to 199,400 when compared to 2019 year-end.
The decline was concentrated entirely in the pre-paid segment, where BTC lost 3,000 subscribers. This was partially offset by a 1,300 gain in post-paid subscribers, the most lucrative part of the market for any mobile player, which is likely to encourage BTC and its parent entities that it has almost stopped the customer bleeding in the face of fierce competition from Aliv.
BTC was left with 172,600 pre-paid subscribers, and 26,800 post-paid subscribers, at end-March 2020. However, the data revealed that elsewhere in its business BTC suffered the loss of 4,200 subscribers, including 1,200 Internet customers and 2,700 fixed-line voice clients. TV subscribers were down by 300.
Chris Noyes, LILAC’s senior vice-president and chief financial officer, in a conference call with analysts praised the “quite aggressive plans” initiated by The Bahamas, Panama and Barbados to control the spread of COVID-19 through lockdowns and other measures.
And Balan Nair, Liberty Latin America’s (LiLAC) chief executive, said his conversations with major resort players such as Atlantis and Sandals had given him optimism that Caribbean tourism will rebound.
“My sense, and this just a personal opinion, is that over the next 12 months you are going to see a lot more things coming back, people wanting to travel, wanting to go to those islands, and those islands taking all necessary measures to protect their livelihoods and those wanting to come back,” he added.