C&W Networks welcomes new leader

15 April 2019 | Natalie Bannerman

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Capacity speaks to Chris Coles, who has taken over the reins at C&W Networks to lead the company as it enters its next phase of growth and development

For the past 10 months, C&W Communications has left its commercial activities in the hands  of Chris Coles, the company’s chief commercial officer of B2B and networks/wholesale.

As we venture further into 2019, Coles’s role seems to be expanding, with him now taking charge of C&W Networks, a subsidiary of C&W Communications and a wholesale telecommunications service provider in the pan-American region. Coles takes the reigns from Paul Scott, former president of C&W Networks, who left the role at the end of 2018.

Speaking on his expanded role, Coles says his new position is one that has “expanded with key lines of business with Liberty Latin America’s operating companies of Liberty Cablevision of Puerto Rico, Cabletica in Costa Rica and VTR in Chile”.

He of course refers to the fact that last year C&W Communications, itself a then subsidiary of Liberty Global, was spun off into Liberty Global’s Latin America division, called Liberty Latin America (LLA). The spilt-off allowed the new company to have access to the capital and resources needed for growth as well as to facilitate the development of technology, scale its operations, launch new services and expand network coverage.

Now over a year since the decision was made Coles says the benefits of the split are already being felt both operationally and for the customer. “Certainly, being part of a larger world-class regional company already provides C&W Networks access to additional economies of scale, delivering greater cost efficiency for capital projects such as network upgrades,” explains Coles.

From a financial perspective, LLA’s strong corporate governance, capital investment approach and financial positioning has also contributed to C&W Networks’ improved financial performance. The company now expects strong year-over-year revenue growth and, by leveraging existing vendor relationships, the company expects substantial increases to its bottom-line performance.

Aside from the aforementioned benefits, apparently not much has changed in the marketplace where C&W Networks competes and it’s “business as usual for the team”. However, since the formation of LLA the company has “consolidated capacity and IP-transit delivery to C&W Networks”.

Looking ahead, Coles says the company is looking at new retail business acquisitions in 2019. Beyond that “we will continue to leverage our scale and network reliability, benefiting both our own retail units and wholesale carrier customer partners”.

Unsurprisingly, the biggest challenge in the Caribbean and Latin America is price erosion due to increasing competition. But C&W is hard at work to counter that trend with new offerings and services for its customers.

“The decline is offset by increasing capacity demand from customers, and we have also been working hard to enrich our product offering with tailored wholesale and business solutions, adding value and differentiating services,” says Coles.

Another big talking point for the region, particularly in the subsea space, is the increasingly disproportionate number of submarine cables being built on the east coast of Latin America compared with the west coast.

“The west coast of Latam has not seen the same influx of new cable systems that the east coast has experienced. We do believe additional systems will be deployed in the future,” explains Coles.

“Given LLA investment in VTR.com, along with future Latam development, we are confident C&W Networks will be very much involved in future cable builds in this region.”

Like much of the world, OTTs and content remain the biggest drivers of data, which according to Coles is heavy with video assets.
“Today Google/YouTube together with Netflix and Facebook account for more than half the demand in our region,” he says. “Increased content resolution and applications continue to drive demand for more data and higher speed connections.”

Though retail is one of the things on the company roadmap Coles says that the company is increasing its current capacity, across the network.
“In 2019 we will upgrade every one of our wholly owned cable systems and participate in mutual upgrades on consortium systems with our carrier partners, such as the jointly owned Pacific Caribbean Cable System (PCCS) subsea cable system.”

Most excitingly, the company expects to announce new acquisitions, “which we are now well positioned to quickly integrate into the expanding fabric of companies under the LLA umbrella”.