UTS makes choices to improve service

POSTED: 07/13/11 12:12 PM

St. Maarten – Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of United Telecommunications Services (UTS) Glen Carty has announced that the company will go through a raft of changes during 2011 that will lead to improved service and reflect the fact that the company is now owned by two governments. He made the announcements on Tuesday at a press conference on the developments in 2010 and the plans for 2011that also briefly touched on the revised plan for 2012 to 2017.

Developments

Changes that are still on the horizon for UTS in St. Maarten that the customers will notice is the rollout of its 3G + service in both Dutch and French St. Maarten in the fourth quarter of 2011 on a network that will be 4G/LTE ready, testing of the new country code (+1 721) by the end of September, switching on a fourth base station – and potentially a fifth – in St. Barths and launching pre-paid service there and furthering discussions on extending coverage to Anguilla. The latter is possible because the business man who bought UTS’ business in St. Kitts and Nevis also has a license to operate in Anguilla. The sale of the St. Kitts and Nevis operation will not affect customers as that country remains part of Chippie land meaning there will be no roaming charges.

Yet more changes that customers will notice this year is the creation of a new power plant at the company’s head office in Philipsburg, improvements in the 2G coverage and services, upgrades in the internet capacity (up to 4.8 Gbps) and a Caribserve Customer Care Desk within the UTS store in Philipsburg.

A change that the customer will not notice is the fact that as of this year UTS will still present a consolidated financial statement but the report will show exactly how each section of the business is performing.

Choices

As happy as the company is to make these investments Carty is clear that they’ve had to make choices on how they invest because of competition they face from international carriers who are offering more and a wider variety of services at a lower prices. Going forward he believes that data and pre-paid minutes “will be out the window” and that the company, its local competition – Telem – and the regulator must adapt in order to survive.

“It is a challenge to compete with the falling prices in the market and still make the millions in investments that we have to make. Yes, we must find a way to keep things affordable and making a profit, but it boils down to us surviving in our region because let’s say even if Telem and UTS were to merge we’d still have to compete with the rest of the world,” Carty said.

One model he personally sees as workable is for government and the two companies – UTS and Telem – to finance and maintain a cable that will create more bandwidth and then have the companies compete on the services that they offer. This model is already being used in Europe.

St. Barths

Carty also clarified on Tuesday that UTS can operate in St. Barths based on the terms and conditions of the license it received to operate in St. Martin. There were questions in Curacao about that when the company announced in a press release on its annual report that there were three base stations in the French Territory.

“We can operate there and we will be turning on a fourth base station soon, and if I have my way we will have a fifth one,” Carty said as he announced the intention to offer services to the local population as well as the visitors who travel to and from St. Barths.

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