By NEIL HARTNELL
Tribune Business Editor
The Bahamas Telecommunications Company (BTC) enjoyed a 16.3 percent year-over-year increase in 2021 second quarter revenues, it was revealed yesterday, despite losing close to 3,000 prepaid mobile subscribers.
Liberty Latin America (LiLAC), its ultimate parent, revealed that BTC’s top-line for the three months to end-June rose by almost $7m compared to prior year numbers, jumping from $41m to $47.7m. This, in turn, helped propel the Bahamian carrier to a modest 2.6 percent increase in 2021 half-year revenues, more than offsetting the first quarter decline to produce a $92.7m top-line compared to the prior year’s $90.3m.
BTC’s 2021 second quarter numbers were up against weak comparatives from the prior year, as that was the period which endured the bulk of COVID-19 lockdowns and associated restrictions. While it does not represent a trend, and LiLAC does not reveal BTC’s bottom line profits, the carrier can at least take some encouragement that it has halted - at least for the moment - a declining top-line trend.
BTC also increased its postpaid mobile subscriber numbers by 400 during the 2021 second quarter, increasing the total to 33,100. This is the more lucrative, stable segment of the market representing higher margin customers on long-term contracts.
However, success in this area may again be overshadowed by the loss of some 2,800 prepaid customers during the same period. Prepaid subscribers fell to 144,600 as a result, and net total mobile subscribers dropped by 2,400 to 177,700 amid cut-throat competition with its rival, Aliv, for market share.
Elsewhere, BTC’s other business segments added a combined 2,900 customers or revenue generating units (RGUs) during the 2021 second quarter. Most of these, some 1,300, were Internet subscribers while a further 700 were added on the TV/video side and 900 on fixed-line telephone communications.
With 120,900 homes passed by BTC’s fibre-to-the-home network, BTC ended the 2021 second quarter with 72,400 non-mobile RGUs. These included 29,100 Internet subscribers, 8.700 TV customers and 34,600 fixed-line phone users.
Andre Foster, BTC’s chief executive, earlier this year admitted to Tribune Business that the carrier faces “a real day-by-day fight” to reclaim mobile market share lost to Aliv.
However, he said the carrier is “pretty confident” that the erosion of its mobile subscriber base has “bottomed out”, adding that BTC believes new products that it plans to launch in the 2021 second half will “help us reclaim some of our mobile subscriber base”.
Aliv, though, previously said its total mobile customer base had increased to 186,000 at year-end 2020 which, if accurate, means it has seized majority market share from BTC.
BTC’s revenues suffered a 12.6 percent year-over-year decline in 2020, dropping by $26.2m from $207.3m in the prior year to $181.1m for the 12 months to end-December, a fall that will largely have been driven by COVID-19 and its devastating impact on consumers.
The carrier’s revenue also fell by $48.1m over a two-year period when the 2020 figures are measured against 2018. That equates to a 21 percent decline.