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Lime will not leave Family Island in the lurch

Cable&Wireless will not leave Family Islanders in the lurch, but the company sees its future in wireless rather than cable-based service.

“Whilst we still have to understand, and are on a journey of understanding more about the Family Islands, I think two things,”David Shaw, CEO of Cable&Wireless’s Caribbean operations(Lime)toldGuardian Businessin an interview.

“One is, we’ve got service obligations that we take very seriously. And secondly, we feel that wireless technology is an ideal way of bringing more value to those Family Islands, and we’ll invest in that.”

Asked what level of commitment Lime would have to servicing the Family Islands 10 years out, even if they were not profitable units, the company’s CEO said that the obligations that come with its license were for the Utilities Regulation and Competition Authority(URCA)to determine.

“As part of the contract we’re signing up for all of the URCA regulations, that’s part of the deal,”Shaw said.

“It’s hard to invest in cable infrastructure because of the dispersed nature of[the islands], but mobile and wireless technology is a perfect way of delivering service to broad distributed, geographically difficult to get to places.”

The Bahamas should expect 3G access”very early on”, the Lime CEO said, but did not commit to any more detailed projection. The 3G technology allows applications for wireless voice telephone, video calls, mobile internet and mobile TV. Shaw anticipates 3G service improving the experience of tourists visiting The Bahamas, especially Americans who may anticipate seemless service as they roam into the country. It will allow for a”world class resort experience,”he added.

Jamaica’s Cable&Wireless subscribers currently have access to mobile TV as a 3G application, according to Shaw, who said that it was also in the plans for The Bahamas.

“The example that I used earlier on of mobile TV is a great example of the kind of commitment that we’ll make to the Family Islands to bring them content that they can’t get access to today,”said Shaw. ”And just the ability of being able to watch your favorite NBA game on your handset in the Family Islands today I think is something that is not possible. Of course one of the things you’ll be able to do is plug your mobile phone into the TV so you’ll be able to watch on the TV at home the Lakers versus the Miami Heat.”

Shaw said that Lime’s buying power and scale allowed it to benefit from global technological developments better than Bahamas Telecommunications Company(BTC)could.

“The 3G example is a good one because the economics of doing that’stand-alone’are really quite questionable,”Shaw said.”The economics of doing it as part of a much broader group are very much more affordable, which means we’ll be able to deliver more mobile data to more consumers than BTC would have been able to.”

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