Digicel acquires Trinidad and Tobago Cable TV License as Caribbean Fiber Optic Network Expands

“We are investing heavily in cable TV, content and fibre across our markets to ensure that Digicel is positioned at the forefront of a data intensive world where our customers are able to enjoy multimedia experiences on multiple devices and avail of advanced solutions for their businesses. “We look forward to expanding our footprint further in this space in the coming year through a combination of acquisitions and greenfield builds.” 

Digicel Group CEO, Colm Delves in a Press Release from Digicel Group on Monday December 23rd, 2013

Looks like Digicel is spreading their wings in a serious way into the Cable TV Market!

This as they’ve recently applied for a Cable TV license from TATT (Telecommunications Authority of Trinidad & Tobago). It’s part of Digicel continued investment in Cable Services across the Caribbean with the intent to build out a Caribbean-wide IPFON (Internet Protocol Fiber Optic Network) as I’ve speculated in my article Digicel Turks and Caicos thinks Streaming over 4G LTE by buying Cable TV Internet Provider.

Digicel acquires Trinidad and Tobago Cable TV License as Caribbean Fiber Optic Network Expands

This is now their Fifth Cable TV License, with the previous four being via acquisition. Trinidad and Tobago is the odd one out, as it’s a purchase of a Cable TV license, not a company. It’s also not set in stone, with input on their application, officially referred to as a ‘Subscription Broadcasting Service via a Telecommunications Network (National Geographical Class)’ being entertained for comments by Industry players and the concerned public until Monday September 15th 2014.

Cable Competition – The Red and White enters a Crowded Cable TV field in T&T

Digicel’s main competition in Trinidad and Tobago is from the following Cable TV providers:

  • Flow
  • DirecTV
  • Green Dot
  • MayaroCable TV

The most recent is Telstar Cable here in Jamaica purchased July 2014 as chronicled in Kelroy’s article Digicel to Acquire Jamaica’s Telstar. That list of Cable TV purchases across the Caribbean is as follows:

  • Caribbean Cable Holdings in Anguilla, Nevis and Montserrat on November 2013
  • SAT Telecommunications in Dominica on February 2014
  • WIV Cable in Turks & Caicos on April 2014
  • Telstar in Jamaica on July 2014

It thus suggests that either Digicel is planning to launch a Cable TV service or use the Cable TV license to acquire channels then broadcast them over a 4G LTE infrastructure which they’re considering building.

According to Digicel Trinidad & Tobago’s CEO John Delves, since November 2013, they’re been considering RFP (Request for Proposals) issued by the regulator TATT . The deadline for that RFP was Friday March 21st, 2014, which has long past, with no official word from Digicel Trinidad and Tobago as to whether or not they’re going ahead with 4G LTE.

Since November 2013, however, they’ve been doing some US$100 million worth of improvements to their 4G (read HSDA+) Network as the demand for Data is exploding, to quote Digicel Trinidad & Tobago’s CEO John Delves: “Specifically in T&T we have invested over TT$1.5 billion since we have been here seven and a half years, This year we are investing over $100 million to improve our network (on the 4G network). What we have to do as a business is make sure we’re matching the speed of the network, with investment in it.”

Digicel Caribbean Wide Fiber Optic Network – 4G LTE and FTTH for all with their own Fiber Optic Network

So with no official word on their 4G LTE plans, this may be a concessionary prize or part of a bigger overall Caribbean-wide 4G LTE and FTTH (Fiber to the Home) Broadband Service strategy.

An alternative scenarios is that they plan to start a Cable company from scratch using local expertise as well as Fiber Optic and Cable TV know-how borrowed from their other acquisitions. On so doing, they may be launching 4G LTE with Streaming Cable TV over 4G LTE as well as a FTTH (Fiber to the Home) Broadband Service.

According to a Monday December 23rd, 2013 Press Release, Digicel has entered into a share and asset purchase agreement with Global Caribbean Fiber to acquire, quote “certain submarine fiber assets in the Eastern Caribbean region. This deal will provide Digicel with a wholly-owned submarine fiber Optic cable network of approximately 2,100 kilometers (km), providing capacity from Trinidad to Guadeloupe. The proposed transaction is subject to regulatory approval and is expected to close in the coming weeks”.

The Press Release goes on to say they they’re also building out new Fiber Optic Networks, referred to in Telecoms as Greenfield sites in Barbados, Haiti, Jamaica and Trinidad. Not only that, but since their acquisition of Global Caribbean Fiber, they’ve also entered into agreements with Global Caribbean Network to connect Guadeloupe to Puerto Rico via Fiber Optic Cable to the United States of America.

Overall, they’re got some 3,100 km across the Caribbean with connectivity to Miami, Paris, France and New York. Effectively they’re building out a Massive Fiber Optic Network of their own on a scale only eclipsed by Cable and Wireless and possibly FLOW as pointed out in Kelroy’s article Undersea Cables keep the Caribbean connected to the World Wide Web.

With that much capacity in tow, it must be high speed Internet on the scale of 4G LTE and FTTH, perfect supporting infrastructure for the expansion of their Cloud Computing Platform as noted in my article Digicel’s Cloud Backup Services – A deep Analysis.

That scenario is also a possibility in Jamaica as well after the acquisition of Telstar Cable here in Jamaica. It’s therefore interesting to see how this will all play out as Digicel silently builds a Caribbean Wide-Cable TV service to power their 4G LTE and FTTH ambitions one Caribbean island at a time!

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Lindsworth is a Radio Frequency and Generator Maintenance Technician who has a knack for writing about his work, which is in the Telecoms Engineering Field. An inspired writer on themes as diverse as Autonomous Ants simulations, Power from Lightning and the current Tablet Wars.