Riding the Waves of the Future

Yes, that was the theme of this year’s Caribbean Cable and Telecommunications Association (CCTA) conference. This annual event was held in sunny Montego Bay, Jamaica, over the first week of February.

The warmth of the people and the optimistic attitude is contagious, and the intimate ‘up close and personal’ style has always been the hallmark of the conference. For that, one has to applaud the fine work that CCTA puts into the event, drawing together operators, vendors, programmers, solution providers, marketers, and technologists alike — and this year, over 270 attendees and 80-some exhibitors.

The region is forward-looking indeed, as the Caribbean is poised for major growth in the broadband and telecom industry. But charting its own course forward in a region that shares many similarities with other parts of the world, while still maintaining its own unique characteristics, presents both opportunities and challenges. After all, it’s a region that encompasses over 30 islands and island nations or territories.

Here are the key broadband and communication trends going on in the Caribbean right now:

  • Much attention and effort has been focused on building the broadband infrastructure of tomorrow. Operators are investing in new technologies, upgrading existing networks, and deploying next-generation OSS/BSS management systems. In a region characterized by predominantly pre-paid services and cash-driven commercial transactions, frequent service activations, suspensions, and re-activations put extra demand on business support systems such as service activation and billing. The dynamic nature of service operation is unique to this region in many ways.
  • Operators’ eyes are on their customers, and on servicing residential subscribers’ needs for communication and entertainment. The broadband pipe is becoming increasingly critical as a hub of daily life: people at home or on the go want access to information and the ability to stay connected anywhere. In addition, there are under-served business customers putting even more demand on broadband networks for speed, agility, and reliability.
  • The industry is clearly consolidating. Major players, like Digicel and Lime, are expanding and investing, seeking an economy of scale and gaining early mover advantage.

The industry’s focus and growth has created interesting demands for solutions and a desire for collaboration with players in the ecosystem:

  • Service providers want to be more than just a video or Internet access pipe. Instead, they strive to become an integral part of peoples’ lives, looking for an all-IP connected-home world – or as we know it, the Internet of Things (IoT).
  • Operators are looking for partners. Their thirst for knowledge is increasing. They are looking for service, guidance, and best practices for implementing solutions. Vendors cannot just come in to sell a ‘bale of beans’. They need to be ready to actually make it all work together.

“Next year, we’ll shake things up a little,” CCTA board director and Bermuda Cablevision CEO Terry Roberson commented. Roberson alluded to the need for industry participants to create closer dialogue and spur participation and collaboration between all players.

The opportunities and challenges of offering converged services for both fixed and mobile networks has many folds. The wave of change is gathering momentum each year, and the future is continuing to look brighter and brighter.

Yes, you guessed it right, that Bob Marley music is still ringing in my ears. Too bad for this blogger, I’m now back to the snowy sub-zero temperature of the U.S. Northeast.