Thursday 28th February, 2008


Windward Telecom to launch next month

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A significant market opportunity exists where traditional

monopolies … have failed to keep pace with the connectivity requirements of energy companies, educational and financial institutions, and call centres.

T&T telecommunications startup Windward Telecom plans to launch its services over the next few weeks and complete infrastructure to target the oil and gas industry in the second half of the year, according to CEO Doug Cunningham.

The company was awarded a licence by the Telecommunications Authority of T&T in February 2007 but the launch of its operations has been held up. Cunningham accused Telecommunications Services of T&T (TSTT) of dragging its feet in providing interconnection. However, final testing is currently taking place and operations are expected to start in three weeks.

Windward Telecoms is planning two phases of operations. In the first it will provide low-cost wholesale telecommunications services to independent Internet service providers (ISPs) and other companies with high bandwidth requirements using existing and newly constructed telecommunications fiber optic networks.

By around April, Windward plans to start originating traffic through a number of IP platforms. The company will also put up data circuits for corporations and government entities needing end-to-end connectivity to the US.

The second phase of development—known as the Trinidad Offshore Fiber Electronics project—will involve building two separate self-healing rings to serve the oil and gas industries.

One ring will be located to the north of Trinidad and west of Tobago providing additional connectivity between T&T. The other will go from Tobago south to Galeota Point running and encircling most of the oil and gas production platforms, which are currently forced to use expensive satellite communications or “some form of unreliable microwave.”

“The ones that are that far offshore can’t use microwave at all. We’re bringing infrastructure that will be comparable to that found in the Gulf of Mexico, the North Sea or the Persian Gulf to Trinidad and potentially Venezuelan waters as well,” Cunningham said.

Canadian merchant bank and alternative asset manager CA Bancorp said last week it had invested US$700,000 to complete the build-out of the wholesale broadband services platform for Windward Telecom. CA Bancorp’s investment is that of a minority stakeholder. Cunningham would not reveal the amount of the total investment.

According to a CA Bancorp statement on the investment, “a significant market opportunity exists where traditional monopolies, typically characterised by low service levels and limited bandwidth, have failed to keep pace with the connectivity requirements of energy companies, educational and financial institutions, and call centres operating within the Caribbean.”

Also, in the second half of this year or the early part of 2009, Windward plans to expand to St Vincent and the Grenadines by buying capacity on existing fibers and developing fixed wireless networks.

“There are not really any alternative carriers or ISPs on those islands. They lend themselves to very small-scale modular fixed wireless operations, like those which have been set up in Barbados, Bermuda, St Lucia and The Caymans,” Cunningham said.

Windward currently leases capacity on the Americas II fiber optic network. The company is already “getting tight on capacity” and—in light of the company’s growth predictions—Windward is “actively looking” at buying capacity on the infrastructure of Global Caribbean Networks or Columbus Communications, Cunningham said, adding that it was “more likely the former than the latter.”



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