Keron Les Pierre –
DESPITE past hiccups, an entrepreneur on Friday expressed confidence he could supply households with a package of popular services such as Netflix and WhatsApp by utilising fixed-line technology, not mobile phone technology, to enter TT’s telecommunications market.
Newsday spoke to Keron Les Pierre, head of the company, Star, The Blue Network, after the earlier launch of his Arima outlet.
His previous attempt to launch a mobile-based service stumbled after the then venue was overwhelmed by members of the public seeking to lap up laptops and cellphones for just $1 and after questions arose as to whether he had access to a mobile network on which to run his service.
On Friday evening, Les Pierre told Newsday his launch earlier had involved admitting a limited number of people, 200-300.
“We distributed some devices and signed up some subscribers.
“It was well managed, with no overcrowding.”
He said entry to the mobile market was now quite difficult, so he was now in talks with other service-providers whose technology was fixed-line.
Asked what percentage of two-way communication in TT by way of voice or text was done by mobile phone, he said prepaid mobile services comprised 56-58 per cent of such traffic. This meant, the percentage that was based on fixed-line technology would be less than 42-44 per cent minus the amount used in post-paid mobile communication. Asked if fixed-line technology was commercially viable, Les Pierre said it could be so, depending on factors such as clients needs and emotions.
He said the company was targeting diverse populations with different aspirations. Les Pierre said there was room for a new entrant to the market.
Asked the cost to establish a fully new mobile network including cellphone towers across TT, Les Pierre replied US$500 million.
Taking aim at the established mobile providers – with whom he does not have contracts – he said, “Are you afraid of us?”
Newsday asked whether his intended fixed-line based service would rely on the companies which already dominated the mobile market and with whom he did not have a contract. “I’m in discussions with lesser known providers.” Les Pierre said among these companies, one had a national licence and others were niche providers, although such non-traditions companies had a very small percentage of the market.
Newsday asked if his company was any good if it did not have 100 per cent coverage of TT’s landmass.
He said clients of even small providers have the capacity to access the Internet and online services such as WhatsApp.
Asked why clients of existing telecommunications providers enjoying a package of cable tv, land line and Internet, should now shift to use his company’s services, he said a lot of customers do not consume such services as had been traditionally done (including cable TV), but now consumes limited cable tv but more of new services like WhatsApp and Netflix. Mulling his company’s place in the “red, green and blue” of TT’s telecommunications landscape, Les Pierre said, “What are the big players afraid of? Allow us to integrate.”