Full-service telecoms operator Flow Barbados has officially launched its commercial 4G LTE mobile network over 35 active LTE-enabled base stations in Bridgetown and other areas of the island, following the 4G launch of its main rival Digicel in October last year. As reported by NationNews, Jenson Sylvester, interim managing director at Flow Barbados, noted that the operator invested over BBD70 million (USD35 million) in its network last year, with a further BBD80 million earmarked for 2017. Extensive testing was carried out on Flow’s new LTE network between October and its eventual commercial switch-on five months later, whilst Sylvester added that ‘more sites will be turned on as we continue to build out the infrastructure … and with LTE technology we can also increase overall capacity for users and get more people connected’. To access 4G, Flow customers only require a compatible device/SIM, with free SIM upgrades available at Flow’s retail outlets.
Flow has meanwhile been publicly complaining about what it calls an outdated and unfair regulatory environment in Barbados. As the former monopoly incumbent fixed line telco, Flow is regulated more heavily than competitors and as such is solely required to pay certain fees to the Fair Trading Commission. Garfield Sinclair, president of parent Cable & Wireless’ Caribbean division (itself part of Liberty Global), told journalists that the landline regulation was ‘patently unfair’ and should be scrapped, Caribbean360 writes. Sinclair argued that the existing policy was inappropriate in the modern era where landline business has been overtaken by mobile voice services, adding that rival Digicel is not subject to similar ‘regulatory impediments’. The executive disclosed that the group had laid out its position to Senator Darcy Boyce, the Barbadian minister with responsibility for telecommunications, and is now ‘anticipating action’ on the matter.