November 29, 2005

Cable & Wireless installs new regional Messaging Gateway

From CaymanNetNews:

Cable and Wireless today announced the integration of a state-of-the-art messaging gateway which will enable the company to provide its bmobile customers with access to more content services, using more content providers, at a more rapid pace.

This will accommodate bmobile’s roadmap for messaging, games, music, photos, and other content.

Finland-based Exomi, a global leader in providing mobile solutions to telecoms operators, has partnered with Cable and Wireless to install the Exomi Messaging Gateway (EMG,) a platform for the provisioning, delivery, management, and charging of messaging and content services.
“This is an exciting investment for our company, as it makes the future of mobile content possible for our bmobile customers,” explained Kevin Wiley, Vice President of Mobile Services for Cable and Wireless in the Caribbean.

More here

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November 17, 2005

COMTek: Innovative Communication Corporation Should Sell Virgin Islands Daily News to End Conflicts of Interest, Intimidation of Business Competitors

Some more political wrangling in the U.S. Virgin Islands telecoms sector:

ST. THOMAS, U.S. VIRGIN ISLANDS, Nov. 16 /PRNewswire/ -- Innovative Communication Corporation (ICC) should sell the Virgin Islands Daily News in order to end the conflicts of interest that are resulting in "uncritical reporting of ICC and intimidation of the firm's business competitors and customers," according to Communication Technologies, Inc. (COMTek), the fastest and most reliable high-speed broadband service provider available in the U.S. Virgin Islands (USVI). COMTek, a Chantilly, Va.-based "Inc. 500" company, is owned by U.S. Virgin Islander Joseph Fergus.

COMTek CEO Joseph Fergus said: "COMTek is in the Virgin Islands to stay. Period. We will not be intimidated to stop competing with ICC. We say: Let the residents of the USVI make up their own minds when it comes to telecommunication services. That isn't happening today when USVI residents live under a regime that sees ICC, the largest privately owned telephone company in the U.S., running the Virgin Islands Daily News, which is the territory's largest daily newspaper."

Fergus added: "We think ICC owes the residents of the Virgin Islands the answers to some tough questions. How can it justify the Virgin Islands Daily News using one standard for attacking ICC competitors, when it turns a blind eye to the many controversies surrounding the business dealings of ICC head Jeffrey Prosser? How can ICC -- as an entity that is subsidized by U.S. taxpayers -- get away with using its newspaper as a strong-arm 'enforcer' to run off competitors and to embarrass customers and public agencies that want better service and prices? Why is there no Chinese wall between the management of ICC and the Virgin Islands Daily News? Why does the Virgin Islands Daily News consistently fail to disclose its conflict of interest in being owned by ICC when it does stories about telecommunications issues, in general, and ICC competitors, in particular?"

The COMTek CEO noted: "This is the kind of alarming media monopoly situation that lends real credence to those who worry about the dangers of over concentration of too much media in too few hands. It is bad enough to have a single private party controlling the dominant newspaper, radio station and television station in a single market, but the potential for abuse goes off the charts when you add telephone service, wireless and ISP. If anyone thinks you can concentrate that much power in the hands of one person and not have problems, they need to take a close, hard look at what is going on here in the U.S. Virgin Islands. It is sad to think that the Virgin Islands Daily News once was a great and independent newspaper truly worthy of the Pulitzer Prize it won under its pre-ICC management. Clearly, ICC is not prepared to give the newspaper the independence it needs and, therefore, should do the right thing by the U.S. Virgin Islands public and sell the Daily News."

COMTek officials point out that ICC routinely uses reporters at the Daily News to ferret out details about the business dealings of COMTek and to create an unfavorable view of the company. How blatant are the conflicts of interest? At no point in stories run about COMTek in 2003 and 2004 did the newspaper acknowledge that it is owned by ICC, which is a direct competitor of COMTek. Even worse, the newspaper on one occasion quoted an ICC executive impugning COMTek, but failed to acknowledge ICC's ownership of the Virgin Islands Daily News. Fergus said: "I could not imagine this kind of lapse happening when the old Gannett management was in charge of the newspaper."

COMTek is not alone in its concerns about ICC's controversial "stewardship" of the Virgin Islands Daily News. In 2001, the respected journalism publication Editor & Publisher wrote: "In this Caribbean paradise, the local media scene is dominated by Innovative Communications, which owns the only daily newspaper, the telephone company, two local cable-TV firms, and banks. Of Jeffrey Prosser, who owns all that, The Wall Street Journal in a critical profile last year of the businessman said, 'No man is an island, but Jeffrey Prosser comes close.' Prosser bought the newspaper, the Virgin Islands Daily News, from Gannett Co. Inc. a few years ago. It's a virtual media monopoly, and according to critics, the paper is selective about what it covers."

The extent of ICC control of media and communications is unprecedented in the United States. According to ICC's own publicly available data, this largest privately owned telephone company in the U.S. owns the Virgin Islands Daily News (the only major daily newspaper in USVI) and TV-2 cable television, both on St. Thomas.

ABOUT COMTek

Communication Technologies, Inc. (http://www.comtechnologies.com/) is now delivering the first commercial application of broadband over powerline technology to be deployed on a city-wide basis anywhere in the United States. As a leading telecommunications and information systems technology company, COMTek provides worldwide broadband network service, the complete lifecycle of systems integration (including software development), network operation, systems administration, information security, and training. On December 1, 2004, COMTek announced that it has been named by Inc. Magazine as one of the 500 fastest-growing privately held companies in the United States. The firm's outstanding success story made it a natural for inclusion on the prestigious "Inc. 500" hottest company list. With 14 years of experience and more than 900 employees, COMTek is headquartered in Chantilly, VA, and also maintains offices in Norfolk, VA, Hampton, VA, San Antonio, TX, Fayetteville, NC, Olympia, WA, and Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas.

USVICommunication Technologies, Inc., Chantilly, Virginia, and St. Thomas,

Web site: http://www.comtechnologies.com/

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Broadband Internet cables being laid

From the Jamaica Observer:

FibraLink Jamaica Limited will this week begin laying down its fibre optic cable network that will link Jamaica to the rest of the world, and for the first time provide an alternative to the network now controlled by Cable & Wireless.

The network, which is scheduled to become operational by early next year, is expected to drive down the local cost of broadband Internet connection, and allow for a rapid proliferation of Internet service throughout the island.

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Discussions continue on communications liberalisation in Antigua-Barbuda

From CaribebanNetNews.com:

ST. JOHN’S, Antigua: The Second Roundtable Discussion on Information Communication Technology organized by the Telecommunications Division of the Antigua and Barbuda Ministry of Information, Broadcasting and Telecommunications was conducted last week centering on the Draft National ICT policy and issues surrounding the full liberalization of the telecommunications market.
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November 16, 2005

Digicel Completes Acquisition of Cingular Wireless Cayman Islands

Strengthened Market Position Allows Further Opportunities to Help Drive Telecommunications Development in the Islands

GEORGETOWN, THE CAYMAN ISLANDS -- (MARKET WIRE) -- 11/15/2005 -- Digicel, the fastest growing mobile telecommunications provider in the Caribbean, today announced that it has completed the acquisition of Cingular Wireless' operation in the Cayman Islands. The company looks forward to receiving regulatory approval in the remaining market of Barbados in the near future which will mark the conclusion of Digicel's agreement last June to acquire Cingular Wireless' Caribbean and Bermuda operations.

Full integration plans between both companies are now underway to ensure a smooth transition for Cingular customers in the Cayman Islands. These plans will allow former Cingular customers to soon have full access to Digicel's valued offerings including comprehensive coverage, competitive rates, innovative products, a growing suite of corporate services and state-of-the-art handsets while continuing to enjoy their current Cingular Wireless services. An additional roaming agreement between Digicel and Cingular will also bring favourable roaming rates to Digicel customers.

Digicel Cayman CEO, Mr JD Buckley, commented, "We are delighted to have reached this stage and wish to extend our gratitude to people of the Cayman Islands for their continued support of our business. Our acquisition of Cingular Wireless' operation puts us undoubtedly in a stronger position to continue to help drive telecommunications development and we look forward to delivering the benefits to the people and businesses of the Cayman Islands."

With a sharp focus on the business community, Digicel corporate services for both post-paid and pre-paid customers include BlackBerry, closed user groups; mobile web; international roaming with over 180 operators; rollover minutes, texting; and Digicel's signature per-second billing. Digicel is continuously expanding its data roaming capabilities to more countries, networks and devices. Post-paid customers are able to seamlessly access the Internet on their laptops or mobile phones while travelling in the United States and the United Kingdom amongst other countries, thereby staying in touch with friends, family and colleagues.

Digicel launched its operation in the Cayman Islands in March 2004 and since then the company has been a significant contributor to the Cayman economy and an active member of the local community. The company's character was tested in September 2004 when Hurricane Ivan swept across the Cayman Islands. Even before committing US$1 million for relief efforts in the Cayman Islands, Digicel employees distributed food, water, and clothes to the community after the storm, while engineers and equipment were dispatched to sustain power and service to customers.

With this acquisition of Cingular Wireless' Caribbean and Bermuda operations, Digicel is now in a position to increase the size of its pan-Caribbean GSM network to include Bermuda, Anguilla, Antigua & Barbuda, St Kitts & Nevis and Dominica and is near completion of the acquisition of Cingular's operations on the islands of St Lucia and St Vincent and the Grenadines.

With a vision to establish a seamless Pan-Caribbean wireless network, Digicel Group's investments in the region have exceeded $US600 million. The Company recently reached a milestone of over 1,000 employees in its fourth year of operation and anticipates a 30 percent increase in staff by the end of 2006, due to subscriber growth and market expansion.

ABOUT DIGICEL

Since its launch in 2001, Digicel has become the fastest growing wireless telecommunications operator in the Caribbean. In four years, Digicel has become renowned for competitive rates, unbeatable coverage, superior customer care, a wide variety of products and services, and state-of-the-art handsets. It is the largest GSM operator in the region.

By offering innovative wireless services and community support, Digicel has become a leading brand in the Caribbean and has placed the region at the cutting edge of wireless communications.

With the recent achievements of new licenses and acquisitions, Digicel is now well on its way to be offering services in the near future in over 15 Caribbean countries, covering a total population of 14 million people. Incorporated in Bermuda and currently operating in eight countries including Aruba, Barbados, Curaçao, the Cayman Islands, Grenada, Jamaica, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Digicel looks forward to launching in Trinidad & Tobago and Haiti as well as entering into the markets of Bermuda, Anguilla, St Kitts & Nevis, Antigua & Barbuda and Dominica through its acquisition of Cingular Wireless' Caribbean and Bermuda operations. The Cingular acquisition will also allow Digicel licenses in St Martin, Guadeloupe, Martinique and St Barths.

The company is the lead sponsor of Caribbean sports teams including the West Indies Cricket Team, Special Olympics teams across the Caribbean and is title sponsor of the Digicel Caribbean Football Union Cup, which involves over 30 Caribbean countries and is an important qualifier towards the CONCACAF Gold Cup.

Visit www.digicelgroup.com for more information on Digicel.

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November 14, 2005

Digicel re-positions for next stage of growth

From the Jamaica Observer:

Digicel, the Caribbean's largest mobile telephone service provider is now repositioning itself for the next stage of growth. It is already in eight Caribbean countries and is expecting to be in 15 jurisdictions by the end of next year.

Only this week it announced that it now has 1.376 million subscribers in Jamaica - that's more than half the country's population and the company believes that there is still room for half-a-million more subscribers.

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New Billing Contract in the Cayman Islands

Cerillion Technologies has announced a new contract to supply caymanone with a complete CRM and billing solution for their telecom network in the Cayman Islands. Cerillion will deliver a complete turnkey solution, implementing the Revenue Manager, CRM Plus, Mediator, Output Streamer and Information Manager products from their pre-integrated product suite.

"A robust, feature rich, billing, financial and CRM system with low start-up and operational costs is essential for the success of our new venture" commented Mark Cheley, Chief Operations Officer at caymanone. "Cerillion's pre-integrated suite provides us with the ideal platform to deliver a level of billing and customer care services unprecedented in the Cayman Islands. In addition the Cerillion solution gives us the ability to easily expand our operations to other Caribbean islands in the future."

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November 10, 2005

Alvarion gets $10m order for French Caribbean

From Globes Online:

"Wireless broadband solutions and specialized mobile networks provider Alvarion (Nasdaq: ALVR; TASE: ALVR) today announced that telecommunications provider Outremer Telecom will provide voice and data services to the islands of Martinique and Guadeloupe using over $10 million of Alvarion's global system for mobile (GSM) solutions."
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November 9, 2005

Mobile licence for sale

From the Jamaica Observer:

"Two of Jamaica's mobile phone operators - Digicel and MiPhone - were surprisingly unperturbed by the government's announced decision to go ahead with the sale of a fourth cellular telephone licence in the face of the decision by US mobile phone giant Cingular Wireless to relinquish the one it inherited in Jamaica when it acquired AT&T mobile telephone business earlier this year.

"We certainly believe that there is room for growth," MiPhone's vice-president of sales and marketing, Alex Hill, said Friday. "In the data area, we are currently running high-speed network in the greater Kingston area, offering wireless as an alternative to dial-up, and we are looking to expand islandwide by next year."
Digicel's commercial director Harry Smith welcomed the new competition."

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Digicel 'surprised' by C&W's anger

Play nice, boys. The Jamaica Observer is reporting:

"Digicel Jamaica CEO David Hall yesterday expressed surprise at Monday's threat by its competitor, Cable & Wireless to sue the Irish investors over a series of advertisements on Sunday in which C&W's approach to marketing its service was called into question.

Hall said in a press statement that C&W was chastised for calling Digicel's subscribers, because the customers themselves had persistently complained of unsolicited calls from the competitor who wanted to woo them away from their service provider."

More here.

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Trinidad’s Telecoms Authority says Digicel will be operational by end of November

From CaribbeanNetNews:

PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad: The Trinidad and Tobago Telecommunications Authority (TTTA) has given an assurance to the operators of Digicel Trinidad and Tobago Limited that they will be allowed to start business by November 30.

This statement by the TTTA comes in the wake of a fierce telecommunications war now being waged between Digicel, newcomers to Trinidad, and local company Telecommunications Services of Trinidad and Tobago (TSTT).

The TTTA is the independent regulatory body responsible for the liberalization and regulation of the telecommunications and broadcasting sectors.

Among its roles are to establish conditions for an open market for telecommunications services including conditions for fair competition and to facilitate the orderly development of a national telecommunications system that would serve to strengthen the national well-being of the country.

Digicel, which expects to launch in November, providing domestic cell phones service, has accused TSTT of deliberately stalling on an agreement to provide Digicel with interconnectivity equipment. Equipment which allows landline to mobile and mobile to mobile connections.

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November 2, 2005

Digicel awarded phone license in Trinidad

From BusinessWeek online:

OCT. 31 8:55 P.M. ET Irish-owned telecom Digicel was awarded a license to provide mobile telephone service in Trinidad, the government announced Monday.

The move came four months after Digicel won an auction for one of two 10-year mobile licenses being offered by the Caribbean nation, one of the last in the region to liberalize its telecommunications sector.

Locally based telecom Laqtel won the other license and also received formal approval Monday, Trinidad's telecommunications authority said in a release.

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