CUTTING EDGE

Jamaica 2018 | IT & BPO | INTERVIEW

TBY talks to Stephen Price, Managing Director of FLOW, on increasing internet penetration, improving services and products for businesses, and contributing to Jamaica's growth.

Stephen Price
BIOGRAPHY
In his capacity at telecommunications giant FLOW, Stephen Price has spearheaded a series of bold initiatives which have resulted in the roll out of an energized new image and dynamic thrust of the company. Price has extensive in other related industries, including commercial sports, entertainment, and event management industries. In addition to his role as Managing Director of FLOW Jamaica, Price is a Director of Start-up Jamaica, Chow Society Ltd., Dream Entertainment Ltd., and RAS Promotions. He holds a bachelor’s degree in business administration.

How has FLOW worked to increase and improve internet penetration in the country?

We have been investing heavily in our network over the past few years. Compared to traditional developed markets, our internet penetration levels are low, at 20%. However, we have made investments to ensure we are laying the backbone for internet penetration, which means each and every part of the island, rural and urban, is included. In 2016, that investment also saw us bringing high-speed internet of a minimum of 25MB/s speeds to 150 communities. We rolled out those internet speeds for another 220 communities in 2017, making sure we continue to expand penetration across the island. In 2018, we seek to make further investments to bring our technology up to date. We were the first company to bring mobile to Jamaica and have seen the gradual progression of technology, from 2G all the way to LTE. Everything about this market is developed in terms of the technology that is available to our customers, even more so for business customers. We have created a solid backbone for business operations, and that is why we are the number-one choice for the BPO and hospitality industries. We have developed the type of networks that create and support the kind of productivity that the nation requires.

Where are you currently focusing your investments?

We are creating a fault-tolerant network with several layers of redundancy to which we will migrate our business customers. The reality is that we will be the only network within the region that can offer that level of authentic redundancy built into the network to provide nearly five lines of reliability. We create the kind of telecommunications environment that is “futureproof." We see ourselves as a connectivity and entertainment business; we create the backbone for smart cities in collaboration with the government and the private sector. Soon we will play a major role in creating smart homes and smart government. We are in discussions with the Ministry of Health for telemedicine. For the hospitality industry, because it is entertainment driven, we are working with hotels to create billing systems, integrated networks for movies, and Wi-Fi solutions so that we will continue being their preferred choice.

What sets the Jamaican market apart from the parent company's overall business?

Jamaica is a huge market for FLOW, and one of the largest outside of Panama in terms of contributing to revenue. That comes with its own pressure because we are expected to carry our weight. We are improving the quality of our service, improving the customer experience, and improving our engagement. We are still in the midst of integration since it involves two massive companies coming together in a quick span of time. Nothing we do in the background should be seen by the customer; they should see one brand, one company, and one vision.

What are some of the opportunities and challenges in the Jamaican telecommunications sector?

As we continue to improve on technology speeds, the opportunities are limitless. It is expensive, but we cannot stop investing. That is what we make sure to do every single year to stay on the cutting edge. Because we provide data at a lower cost, we can improve companies' bottom lines and margins. We are in the fourth industrial revolution and in the age of artificial intelligence. There will be jobs that will be replaced by artificial intelligence. As we continue to grow, we see artificial intelligence coming into play, though the country will still need connectivity and us. We will be a large part of fueling growth. Jamaica is truly an ideal place for IT and telecommunications. As long as the country continues to invest in education, technology, and computer sciences, we can be on the cutting edge.