Island Quad-Play Revolution
Writer: Emily Jarvis
Project Manager: Donovan Smith
Cable & Wireless Seychelles (CWS) is of historical and cultural importance in Seychelles. Commencing operations in the country 122 years ago, CWS is intrinsic to the very history of the country having connected Seychelles to the outside world by deploying the first submarine cable in 1893 for the technological marvel that was the telegraph system.
Given the size the Company has grown to and its longstanding presence in the country, CWS is deeply rooted within the community, comprising a 97 percent Seychellois workforce. “Almost everyone in Seychelles knows someone who has worked for us, or indeed someone who is currently working for us. We are highly regarded as a substantial organisation that is known for bringing Seychelles closer to being a fully digital Island, in partnership with the Seychelles Government,” comments Charles Hammond, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Cable & Wireless Seychelles.
The Company has evolved in a relatively short period of time to one that utilises all of the relevant technologies that are in demand today including FTTH, FTTC, LTE, 3G and MPLS L3; to deliver voice and the fastest 3G and LTE data in the country, corporate solutions, radio services, fixed line and most recently, television services to its valued customers. All of CWS’ services, including entertainment, can be enjoyed on the move or at a fixed location.
According to its own statistics, CWS commands a 72 percent market share of internet data users; however, Google’s estimates are much higher than this, claiming that 80-85 percent of internet traffic in Seychelles is generated through Cable & Wireless customers.
Since the economic reforms of 2008, CWS has been investing just under a quarter (at least 18 percent) of its profits back into the business, which has paid dividends for its quad-play and internet strategies which have been delivered through smart network expansion and infrastructure upgrade strategies. This has enabled CWS to be the Company of choice for both residential and business customers. An incredible 95 percent of resorts and hotels subscribe exclusively to CWS services, illustrating the supreme confidence in their ability to deliver solutions of the highest standard.
“With regards to our residential customers, reliability, coverage and affordability are the three staples of our business and with this significant investment in infrastructure, we have also made sure that every household was within two kilometres of a network station,” explains Hammond.
The high level of capex investment that is driven by its internet and quad-play strategies has given CWS a platform that sets the Company apart from the competition. Positioning itself as the provider of quality and reliable services, the company is now reaping the fruits of visionary planning.
Hammond further details: “We are proud to have increased our market share in recent years, to now stand at 68 percent in mobile services; placing us head and shoulders above the rest as the market leader in the telecoms industry. Equipped with the right people who are skilled, motivated and understand the local market, we are continuously looking forward. Our latest goals are to upgrade the whole 3G network to LTE, advance with VOLTE and to increase FTTH to more than 80 percent of the country, and our entertainment offers are riding on this.
“Advanced LTE is key to delivering our mission statement: to provide world class communications and entertainment services whenever and wherever people work, play and have fun. Convergence means that we can deliver voice, internet and entertainment services fixed and mobile in ways that are compelling and competitive to customers. To facilitate this, CWS has increased its international internet capacity five-fold in two and a half years.
Since identifying the television market as a potential business area, CWS grabbed the opportunity with both hands and now is focusing on becoming the market leader within the next three years. Not only providing a service that customers have been accustomed to beforehand, but going above and beyond to provide an entertainment hub.
The service launched on 29 June with a variety of premium content to satisfy all demographics and tastes. However, the plan is to continuously improve the service by keeping abreast of customer feedback and adding channels, VoD (video on demand) and mobile TV. In July, it added five new major channels with the aim to add many more in the near future.
“The ability to watch your favourite programmes when you want and where you want is a seismic shift from what is currently available from our competitors; and we expect to have achieved 20 percent of the market share in the first month of providing entertainment services,” says Hammond.
To complement these services and offer an inclusive package to its customers, CWS will also rollout its mobile money service, Cable & Wireless Cash, in November 2015, enabling customers to make financial transactions from their mobile phones.
Similarly, the Company has been busy in the enterprise space, striking a deal with Seychelles’ Civil Aviation Authority to provide free Wi-Fi for the country’s airport. “This service is currently being tested and is available throughout the airport. We recognise the growing trend and importance of internet availability in the modern world we live in. Subsequently, the Company is making improvements to the service as we speak and intends to extend the service to other areas of the country in public spaces such as key business hubs, bus stations and so on,” the CEO says.
One area that CWS continues to develop in tandem with its bold investments is its employees. “As a customer focused organisation, we aspire to always better ourselves in order to move forward and align even more potential customers with the brand.
“Careful planning has been at the core of our staff improvement strategy; we examined our resources to ensure there are qualified people deployed throughout the supply chain to accompany our significant investments. Most importantly, we achieved this without any service degradation, maintaining the network to a very high standard in accordance with shareholder expectations; creating a solid platform from which to rollout our new and improved service offering,” Hammond emphasises.
Each year, investment in training increases, with various programmes available for all staff that ensures a minimum threshold standard of qualification is upheld within the organisation. He further adds: “For example, we made it a requirement to be certified in whatever our employees are practiced in via specialised training through international bodies such as CISCO, VMWare, Microsoft, and so on.
“We take pride in the fact that more than 97 percent of our staff are from the local community, and with more people than ever before employed by us, we continue to contribute to the economic and social wellbeing of Seychelles,” says Hammond.
Happy to Give
In line with its indigenous culture, CWS places corporate social responsibility (CSR) at the heart of its core values. “We connect the population through both our literal service offering and by taking a vested interest in the communities in which we operate. Our Happy to Give campaign has benefitted many different demographics across the country, with both staff and those we assist enjoying the project on an emotional and gratifying level,” the CEO comments.
One of the many ways in which the Company has contributed to communities is through its ‘Happy to Give’ initiative, where customers donated a huge amount of loyalty points, which CWS then matched and converted into money which was donated to charitable causes such as the national Hospice, the special Olympics delegation who made it to the world games in LA, and the renovation of the centre for disabled children at a large primary school.
Amongst its other key CSR activities, CWS has renewed the MoU (Memorandum of Understanding) to provide free internet to all Government schools in the country and supported a youth coaching programme amongst other significant donations which have a direct impact on the community.
As we pass the half-way mark in 2015, CWS is particularly proud to be striving to achieve its mission statement goal; to provide world-class communications and entertainment services that allow people to work, play and have fun.
Hammond concludes: “Once achieved, we can call ourselves a fully integrated telecommunications and entertainment provider and begin looking further into the enterprise space at how we can adopt cloud and other key software solutions in this space.
“At present though, we see ourselves as the number one entertainment and communications provider to the whole of Seychelles. By executing the right strategies and continuing to invest in all the right technologies and services, as we have done so far, we will continue to strengthen the business and come up with ways to make it easier for customers to communicate.
“Our strongest selling point is that people see CWS as a deeply rooted component in the country. Customers see us as a friendly, highly professional and customer-centric Company equipped with the right balance of quality and affordability.”