Digicel Play has 35,000 customers as FLOW Jamaica Horizon fails to impress

“Digicel Play now has over 35,000 customers and our footprint includes Kingston and St Andrew, Portmore and Spanish Town….at the moment, we cannot say where we are deploying next …”

CEO for Digicel Play Caribbean and Central America John Suranyi commenting on Digicel Play’s 35,000 subscribers

FLOW Jamaica is in trouble and they know it.

This as Digicel Jamaica has now tripled their Cable Subscriber base, as they now have 35,000 Digicel Play customers as of June 2016. This number covers the following areas:

  • Kingston and St Andrew
  • Portmore
  • Spanish Town

In February 2016 they had 10,000 Digicel Play customers as I’d pointed out in Why Digicel Play hits 10,000 spells trouble for FLOW Jamaica. By March 2016, some three (3) months later however, they’d reached 20,000 customers as noted in How Digicel Play’s 20,000 customers in March 2016 means 60,000 by December 2016.

Geezam - Digicel Play has 35,000 customers as FLOW Jamaica Horizon fails to impress - 28-06-2016 LHDEER

Since they’d actually launched in September 2015, that advance to 10,000 customers meant that they’d reached 10,000 in three (3) months time in February 2016 as those figures were from January 2016. Based on that projection, I’d predicted that they’d reach 60,000 by December 2016.

However, the fact that they’d reach 20,000 in less than three (3) months, means that they’re rate of growth was accelerating, as that’s now 20,000 customers gained in the same space of time.

Now it’s June 2016, three (3) months later and they’re now at 35,000 customers. Not only is this triple the February 2016 figure, which was 10,000 but they’re gaining traction at a much faster rate of approximately 30,000 every three (3) months.

Assuming the same linear rate of growth, they’ll easily hit 90,000, possibly 100,000 customers by December 2016, almost double my predicted figure.

Digicel hasn’t given any forecast as to where they’ll be spreading the gospel of FTTH (Fiber to the Home) Cable Service, going from Door to Door, Jehovah’s Witness Style as parlayed in How Digicel Play will spread the Gospel of Fiber Optic this Christmas.

Their US$100m investment in a FTTH Network has not been wasted and their launch of Digicel LTE as related in my ditty How to Activate Digicel LTE on your Smartphone only helps to boost their appeal!

So why is this happening?

Digicel Play vs FLOW Jamaica – Digicel Play is Altius, Citius, Fortius 

First, one needs to examine what they’re packin’. FLOW Jamaica offers four bundles (4):

  • JA$1,199 TV Essential
  • JA$2,699 TV Plus
  • JA$3,499 TV Max
  • JA$6,499 TV Watch All

Digicel Play offers Three (3) bundles to match:

  • JA$3,399 Play Now
  • JA$3,399 Play More
  • JA$6,699 Play Large

When it comes to HD channel offering, Digicel Play has FLOW Jamaica beaten:

  • JA$3,399 for Digicel Play Now with 180 channels that has 41 HD Channels
  • JA$3,999 for FLOW’s TV Max with 130 channels that has 9 HD Channels

Despite the offer of $1,999 per month for the first three (3) months for new FLOW TV Essential subscribers, this is merely a temporary offer. But it start to really get bad for FLOW Jamaica when you compare their Internet Services.

FLOW Jamaica offers 20Mbps on coaxial cable which maxes out at 100Mbps but suffers from a lot of buffering issues due to congestion at their Internet Gateway Switch to an overused MUX (Multiplexer) as a reliable Contractor source has told me.

Digicel Play, on the other hand, is capable of speeds of max speeds of 500 MBps upload and 1 GBps downloads with their current Fiber Optic Network and have already been testing a XG-PON (10Gbps Passive Optical Network) with the help of Huawei, which has maximum theoretical speeds of 10 Gbps.

But the really clincher is the fact that FLOW Jamaica billed its customer more for their “free” upgrade from 15MBps to 20MBps. a Circular from Vice­President of Marketing and Products Carlo Redwood advised customer that the following Triple Play packages would rise as follows by Monday February 1st 2015:

  • JA$3,599 for Rock/Essential, up from JA$3,099
  • JA$3,599 for Mega Thunder, up from JA$$3,325
  • JA$3,599 for Ignite up from JA$3,000
  • JA$4,199 for Mega Lightning up from JA$3,600

This mis-step, coupled with the removal of some nineteen (19) Cable channels since Monday August 31st 2015, albeit HBO is back, and Game of Thrones rocks as noted in HBO back on Cable as BCJ regulates and Mama P draws for CARICOM Powers.

Digicel Play is clearly Altius, Citius Fortius when compared to FLOW Jamaica!

So what’s coming in the future?

FLOW Jamaica’s US$60 million upgrade – Acquisitions have them Distracted

FLOW Jamaica has been upgrading to the tune of US$60 million.

Albeit a considerably smaller spend than Digicel Jamaica, this is really to match the necessary upgrades that have to be undertaken and is not a reflection of the value of their Network or their level of commitment. FLOW Jamaica’s problem is that they’re also not as focused on giving the customer the best possible value at the lowest possible, competitive price as Digicel.

Granted, C&W Jamaica, the parent company, in the middle of a merger with FLOW Jamaica, the company they bought, whose name they’ve adopted based on a Caribbean-wide survey as I’d explained in LIME Jamaica Goes with the FLOW thanks to Caribbean-wide Survey.

C&W Jamaica has itself been purchased by Liberty Global, a Global Cable Television conglomerate and they’ve been improving their offering since Valentine’s Day to show their customers some love as pointed out in FLOW Jamaica bringing TNT Series in time for St. Valentine’s Day.

As it relates to Cable TV and Broadband Internet, FLOW Jamaica is very distracted as it tries to marshal its resource to compete against the more lightweight and nimble Digicel to quote Head of TV at FLOW Jamaica, Nigel Facey: “When Flow entered the market back in 2006, as a new cable operator providing an all­digital cable television service, the incumbents at the time, especially in the Corporate Area, would also have lost some of their market share”.

FLOW rolls out Horizon – Free Streaming for 30 Day Prepaid Data Plan FLOW Customers needed

FLOW has made some improvements.

To match Digicel Play’s DVR (Digital Video Recording) features as well as their Digicel Play App that allows you to stream Digicel Play channels to any Wi-Fi capable device, they’ve upgraded their AVS (Advanced Video Service) and rebranded it as FLOW Horizon.

They’ve also sweetened the deal by giving a 50% discount for three (3) months for all new and upgrading customers. Their FLOW’s Play from Beginning allows viewers to rewind content previous broadcast.

The FLOW to Go app also allows you to stream to any device, albeit one cannot help but notice that their App Store is somewhat threadbare as noted in FLOW Jamaica App Store needs Game and Business App Developers.

And like the Digicel Play App, the FLOW to Go App is dependent on Wi-Fi to quote Head of TV at FLOW Jamaica, Nigel Facey: “Once the channel is available on FLOW to Go and you subscribe to it in the package, then you can access that channel remotely, so to speak, once you have access to a Wi­Fi connection”.

One would have thought that to distinguish themselves, they’ve have given FLOW Horizon customers with a 30 Day Prepaid Data Plan the ability to stream without affecting their Data Plans. This would be the equivalent of giving FLOW Prepaid customers a 99 cents plan who subscribed to a 30 Day Prepaid Data Plan for helping them to achieve their 1 million customer milestone as explained in FLOW Jamaica’s 30-Day Prepaid Mobile Internet gives you 99 cents Plan.

Once FLOW does this as well as upgrade their Network to FTTH, then they’d begin be able to win back customers from Digicel Play, now at 35,000 customers and Growing Strong, Game of Thrones Style!

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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.