THE NEW FACE OF TELECOMMUNICATIONS IN THE DUTCH CARIBBEAN

The end of an era was marked by the purchase announcement of the majority of shares of United Telecommunications Services (UTS) by Cable & Wireless Communications (C&W). With an agreement to purchase, confirmed by the Government of Curaçao in March of this year, C&W will now be in a position to lead the telecommunications industry in the Dutch Caribbean by providing video, broadband, fixed-line telephony and mobile LTE services to both residential and business customers across the island nations of Curaçao, St. Maarten, Bonaire, St. Barths, St. Eustatius and Saba.

For many decades UTS, (formerly SETEL), was the primary telecommunications pro­vider for much of the Dutch Caribbean and was traditionally a publicly-owned and operated company. However, in more recent years, they had been unable to meet the financial demands required to remain com­petitive within the industry. An investment of Naf. 200 million was needed to bring the company’s technological assets up to stan­dard. Given Curaçao’s current strained econ­omy, the Government (acting as the UTS major shareholder) was not in a financial position to make such a large investment. As a result, UTS sought a strategic partner that would enable them to regain their compet­itive edge. An agreement was signed with Liberty Latin America Ltd. (LLA), the parent company of C&W to purchase 87.5% of UTS shares, positioning the company as the larg­est telecom provider in the Dutch Caribbean. As Minister of Traffic, Transportation and Urban Development, Mrs. Zita Jesus-Leito commented, “Through this agreement with Liberty Latin America, the Government of Curaçao is able to provide a strong cor­nerstone that will assure the continued development of modern infrastructure that will provide our community with the best telecommunication services and products at affordable prices now and in the future. We are glad to have found in LLA a partner that recognizes the vast expertise and know-ledge of our UTS employees, and is willing to invest in infrastructure that will provide our community with an opportunity to tap into the vast world of innovative solutions that will enrich our lives.”

C&W, as part of the Liberty Latin America group of companies, is a full-service com­munications and entertainment provider to 18 countries in the region. Its parent company LLA is a major telecommunica­tions provider in the Caribbean and Latin American region providing digital video, broadband internet, telephony and mobile services to 20 different countries.

With its acquisition of UTS, C&W hopes to make a significant upgrade to the exist­ing telecommunications infrastructure in order to provide faster speeds and stronger LTE coverage to the previously mentioned islands of the Dutch Caribbean. The inte­gration strategy will be formalized and implemented within the upcoming months in order to provide a seamless transition and ensure the continuation of a steady advancement in telecommunications services.

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