‘Addictive’ Data Revolution Coming to Caribbean: CEO
With a mixture of good management, strong market positions and a credible cable network across the region, Cable & Wireless Communications' CEO Tony Rice claimed that the company could become one of the go-to players in the Caribbean.
Having recently sold assets in Monaco, the Maldives and elsewhere, Rice said Cable & Wireless Communications was in the rare of position of currently being an unlevered telecoms company."That's not something I plan to be in the position of for long," Rice added."There are lots of good TELCOs in this region (the Caribbean), but we think we can be one of the go-to players and we're looking to expand here."
The data revolution in mobile usage – something that will grow with the introduction of 4GLET – is crucial for the company's future in emerging markets. "In the past, voice was a very simple business: you installed a switch, you got paid for it," Rice explained. "Now, data is a much more complex business because it involves software, and it involves things like customer psychology."
(Read More: The Data Challenge for Marketers)
That psychology is where Rice hopes Cable & Wireless Communications can capitalize in emerging markets. He understands that there will always be a business or middle-class elite that seeks the latest iPhone, Samsung or BlackBerry, usually 20 percent of the market.
Yet Rice hopes to increase smartphone penetration in his emerging market regions by offering a $50 phone that can increase the usage of such devices from below 30 percent to around 60 percent.
Data and smartphones are Rice's focus because they represent infinite growth whereas fixed mobile substitution - the use of a mobile phone instead of a fixed telephone - offers only two or three years of growth.
While it will be a challenge for Cable & Wireless Communications to dominate in such niche regions,Rice struck an optimistic tone regarding the data wars ahead. "The good news is it's addictive and it's addictive everywhere," he told CNBC. "In mature markets, it's been addictive for four or five years, but even in emerging markets we're seeing the same data take-up trends, and it's just a timing issue as to when it matures in those markets."