|Consumer brand of CWC, a Liberty Global Company|
|Traded as||NASDAQ: LILAK|
|Founded||2004; Relaunched - July 2015|
|Headquarters||Coral Gables, Miami, Florida, United States|
|Anguilla, Antigua & Barbuda, Barbados, British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Curaçao, Dominica, Grenada, Jamaica, Montserrat, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Trinidad & Tobago, Turks and Caicos|
|Michele English (Acting President)|
|Products||Fibre Broadband, Cable Broadband, ADSL, VDSL & VDSL2 Broadband, Mobile Broadband, TV, Landline|
|Parent||Cable & Wireless Communications (owned by Liberty Global)|
FLOW was formerly a brand of Columbus Communications providing residential and business telephone, Internet and television services across the Caribbean. The brand was used by individual companies operating in each country, registered under the Columbus Communications name.
FLOW is now the consumer-facing brand for CWC's operations in the Caribbean in Barbados, Jamaica, The Cayman Islands, St. Kitts and Nevis, Trinidad and Tobago, Montserrat, Dominica, Antigua & Barbuda, St. Vincent, St. Lucia, Anguilla, Curaçao, the Turks and Caicos Islands and the British Virgin Islands.
Following FLOW's parent company, Cable & Wireless Communications' acquisition by Liberty Global, FLOW (and its sister companies, BTC (Bahamas), +Movil in Panama and Cable and Wireless Seychelles) will join the brands VTR and Liberty Cablevision in Puerto Rico forming LiLAC, Liberty Global's Latin American and Caribbean Group. FLOW also joins the ranks of European cable and internet leviathans such as Virgin Media UK and Ireland, UPC Cablecom and Ziggo, all also owned by Liberty Global.
2G, 3G & '4G'
Every region in which FLOW operates a mobile network descended from the former LIME brand. FLOW uses the GSM standard for 2G which accessible on 850 & 1900 MHz. It provides data connectivity exclusively using EDGE.
FLOW also operates 3G networks which began deployment when the company (at the time named LIME) launched their first 3G network in Jamaica on June 22, 2009. Its launch was seen as a response to America Movil's Jamaican operation, Claro Jamaica's islandwide 3G offering. The company, however, decided to focus its 3G offering in the cities of Kingston, Montego Bay and the town of Ocho Rios.
Soon after, CWC on October 6, 2011, announced the launch of a '4G' HSPA+ network in the Cayman Islands and plans to launch HSPA+ networks in the Bahamas (in their BTC Bahamas business unit) and LIME Barbados. HSPA+ networks were also launched in limited availability in markets such as Jamaica, where upgraded towers were limited to as well as termed as '4G Experience Centres'. These centres were located in New Kingston business district, Portmore Mall (and its environs) and the Fairview Town Centre in Bogue, Montego Bay. '4G Experience Centres' were introduced in almost every LIME market but they did little to inhibit churn from main competitor, Digicel, and their widely available HSPA+ offerings in most of their markets. In 2014, after former Centrica chief executive, Phil Bentley took the helm of Cable & Wireless Communications, the company announced a $250 million USD investment programme nicknamed 'Project Marlin', aimed at improving CWC's mobile and fixed-line networks. The project would involve a total capital expenditure of $1.07 billion USD at the end of its 3-year run in March 2017. The plan began with an announcement of an islandwide HSPA+ network in Jamaica in March 2014 (which concluded deployment in November 2015). This was crucial to the company's turnaround plan as their competitor, Digicel Jamaica, had gone nationwide with their HSPA+ & DC-HSDPA network since 2012. HSPA & HSPA+ network rollouts in all their other markets concluded in 2015. FLOW also has island-wide HSPA+ coverage in all of its markets. In Jamaica, FLOW's largest market, the network covers around 2.8 million people and according to the Office of Utilities Regulations (OUR), serves 1 million mobile subscribers (or about ~3.5x the population of Barbados). According to internal company counting policies (in accordance with Liberty Global's counting policy), FLOW Jamaica has 886,200 mobile subscribers (as of August 2016). This is CWC's second largest market, with Panama being the largest (with 2 million mobile subscribers; C&W Panama is the market leader in Panama).
Based on drive tests carried out by engineering consulting company, MSI Americas, FLOW was rated as the top carrier in the 2 tested countries; Jamaica and Barbados. In Jamaica, FLOW was placed ahead of its competitor in terms of radio frequency quality, 3G throughput, and higher 3G retention. FLOW was also rated the faster mobile network in the country, with users to experience on average, above 3 Mbit/s (downlink) on the HSPA+ network. FLOW Barbados also placed ahead of its competitor there as well in said categories as well. In addition, FLOW Barbados was also ranked by Ookla as being the best ISP and Mobile Network in Barbados.
LTE and Beyond
'Project Marlin' also involved the launch and build out of LTE networks across the company's most competitive markets. CWC's Caymanian business unit (then named LIME Cayman) launched their first LTE network on May 16, 2014. The network initially launched with 100% coverage across the Cayman Islands on LTE Band 17 (700 MHz). The network came 6 months after Digicel launched their own LTE network, on Band 3 (1800 MHz). In August 2016, FLOW became one of 8 carriers in North America (others being AT&T, T-Mobile USA, Verizon, Sprint, Rogers, Telus and Bell) and the only Caribbean operator to, after additional network upgrades, have rolled out an LTE-A network. FLOW also operates an LTE network in Antigua & Barbuda, which launched on November 24, 2014 as well as The Turks and Caicos Islands (after acquiring the assets of Islandcom Wireless) and Anguilla.
With the continuation of 'Project Marlin', future LTE upgrades were announced on January 17, 2016, where the company announced in a press release that it will be rolling out an LTE network in Jamaica. The network will be initially rolled out in high traffic areas in the Kingston Metropolitan Area (consisting of the city of Kingston and its adjacent suburbs in Portmore, St. Catherine and the parish of St. Andrew) and on the North Coast such as in the resort city of Montego Bay and the resort town of Ocho Rios). The company was, however, beaten by its competitor, Digicel Jamaica, which launched its LTE network on June 9, 2016, in Kingston and Montego Bay. FLOW has since announced that it has applied for additional LTE spectrum to provide a 'faster service'. Their current spectrum holdings are at 24 MHz (12 MHz for downlink and 12 MHz uplink) of LTE Band 4 (1700/2100 MHz) in Jamaica. Despite this, the company's managing director for their Jamaican operation, Garfield Sinclair, commented in a shareholder meeting on September 7, 2016, that FLOW would not be launching LTE in Jamaica 'for now', citing a need to increase mobile data subscriptions and smartphone use on its network; echoing statements he previously made in 2015 (pre-FLOW; LIME). The company however, through a partnership with Huawei's mobile division, has decided to make 12 LTE sites available for use in the Kingston Metropolitan Area, a result of the launch of the Huawei Y3 II LTE smartphone on the network. According to FLOW Jamaica's Managing Director, Garfield Sinclair, the company's new parent, Liberty Global is focused on mobile data (as well as broadband penetration), now evidenced by the majority of their handsets available for sale (at FLOW Jamaica dealer stores & flagship stores) being at least Category 4 LTE (LTE-A) capable.
On October 14, 2016, FLOW British Virgin Islands announced that a number of their new LTE sites went live well ahead of their full commercial launch in early November. The network will be using 700 MHz and 1900 MHz with initial speeds reportedly of over 40 Mbit/s. The company says further optimization will be done to further increase the speeds between now and launch. The network launched on November 17, 2016 with LTE coverage available across all of the islands, LTE-A is available in Road Town, Spanish Town, Tortola, Spanish Island and Beef Island with speeds up to 100 Mbit/s.
Some markets not slated for LTE will see upgrades to DC-HSDPA (which sees speeds up to 42 Mbit/s on the downlink). For example, FLOW has enabled DC-HSDPA in the Kingston Metropolitan Area in Jamaica. Currently, DC-HSDPA is present in all FLOW markets.
Future Mobile Networks
FLOW currently operates in 2 markets with no wireless offerings, Trinidad and Curaçao. FLOW plans to add a mobile network to their portfolio in Trinidad. The company applied to the governing telecoms body, Telecommunications Authority of Trinidad and Tobago (TATT), in 2014 for a mobile license. To date, however, FLOW has yet to receive a license despite being named as the recipient of the license being tendered by TATT. They plan to build an LTE network as well despite incumbents, bmobile (TSTT) and Digicel, having well established mobile customer bases. FLOW cites its experience in other markets, to include previously launched LTE networks in other markets in addition to ones currently being rolled out in Jamaica and Barbados as an impetus to get TATT to issue the license. FLOW's parent company, Cable & Wireless Communications, is a minority shareholder in incumbent TSTT, however, services are not branded as C&W but as bmobile, CWC's former consumer brand from 2003 to 2008 (succeeded by LIME in November 2008 in all markets except Trinidad & Tobago).
Plans for a mobile network in Curaçao are currently unknown at this time.
Radio frequency summary
|Frequency range||Band number||Protocol||Class||Status||Note(s)|
|850 MHz CLR||5||GSM/EDGE/UMTS/HSDPA/HSPA+||2G/3G/"4G"||Active||Active in all markets; 5 MHz of HSPA+. Max Speed of 21 Mbit/s. GSM-850 forms fallback in lack of 3G or '4G' Coverage.|
|1900 MHz PCS||2||GSM/EDGE/UMTS/HSDPA/HSPA+/LTE||2G/3G/"4G"/4G||Active||Active in all markets. In their Jamaican market, FLOW has HSPA+ active on 1900 MHz. Most areas see a maximum speed of 21 Mbit/s (high traffic areas in the Kingston metro area see speeds of up to 42 Mbit/s, only accessible to handsets capable of DC-HSDPA - only active on 1900 MHz). Band 2 LTE is used by FLOW BVI. GSM-1900 forms fallback in lack of 3G or '4G' Coverage|
|700 MHz B/C||13/17||LTE/LTE Advanced||4G||Active/In-Deployment||Main LTE Band for FLOW Cayman, FLOW Anguilla, FLOW Turks and Caicos and FLOW BVI. FLOW Jamaica is acquiring Band 13 to supplement current spectrum holdings.|
|1700/2100 MHz AWS||4||LTE/LTE Advanced||4G||Active/In-Deployment||Main LTE Band used for FLOW Antigua & Barbuda. FLOW Jamaica acquired AWS spectrum in early 2015.|
FLOW utilizes different tariffs for every market they operate in. In their Jamaican market, for example, FLOW employs aggressive pricing strategies. FLOW offers prepaid calling rates of $2.99 JMD or $0.02 USD per minute for on-net and off-net calls as well as calls to the United States, Canada and Landlines in the UK through the "Talk-EZ" plan as standard. The rate plan goes even lower to $1.99 JMD or $0.01 USD for Postpaid subscribers and Prepaid subscribers who subscribe to a data plan eligible for FLOW 'MVP' (Maximum Value Plan) i.e. data plans that last for a duration of 7, 15 days. Prepaid subscribers, as of May 20, 2016, are subject to a new tariff, reducing the rate to 99¢ JMD or $0.008 USD per minute for 30-day Mobile Internet subscriptions.
FLOW's tariffs for roaming are standardized for all postpaid customers in all markets. Prepaid customers across all markets have specialized roaming plans which last for 7, 14 or 30 day durations. Each plan includes a set allotment of data, talk and text in addition to free voicemail and incoming calls.
Broadband, Pay-TV & Landline
Legacy Copper and Broadband
FLOW's legacy copper network dates back to LIME and Cable and Wireless. At the time of merger, it could support speeds from 512 kbit/s up to 8 Mbit/s for ADSL. Upgrades were undertaken in some markets and they then began to offer broadband up to 48 Mbit/s in places such as Anguilla and The Turks & Caicos Islands (while under the LIME brand) due to upgrading to VDSL2 technology.
Cable TV and Broadband
FLOW operates vast and expansive HFC networks in the former Flow (Columbus Communications) markets namely Barbados, Curaçao, Grenada, Jamaica, Trinidad, Saint Lucia and Saint Vincent. FLOW delivers a large variety of content to their customers from Standard to HD. They all employ the DOCSIS 3.0 standard, which allows them to deliver speeds ranging from 15 Mbit/s up to 300 Mbit/s. FLOW also offers advanced multimedia options such as movie rentals and rewind, pause, and play from beginning through their Horizon service. This can also be found in the Bahamas where BTC Bahamas brands the service as FLOW TV instead. The old Flow was the leading cable provider in markets such as Jamaica and is currently still are the largest in that market and the entire region. FLOW is currently expanding its pay-TV service to all its previously unserved regions to combat the emergence of long time competitor, Digicel, and their new Fibre TV and broadband service, Digicel Play. FLOW, through the purchase of its parent company Cable & Wireless Communications by Liberty Global - a company which was at the forefront of recent cable broadband developments, will in future see its HFC networks using DOCSIS 3.1. This will enable FLOW to offer broadband speeds rivalling the best possible gigabit fibre offerings.
Fibre and Wireless Broadband
LIME, in 2014, began rolling out a Fiber-to-the-Home network in Barbados. Now complete, the network now offers speeds from 2 Mbit/s to 1 Gbit/s, thanks to an all fiber optic network. They also have a FTTH network in select locations in Jamaica and across all of Grand Cayman as well.
FLOW also operates DEKAL Wireless, a rural Jamaican municipal Wi-Fi network operator, on behalf of Cable and Wireless Communications (which acquired shares in DEKAL after they acquired Columbus Communications).
Value Added Services & Partnerships
The company is also a partner with Wikimedia and allows its Prepaid and Postpaid subscribers access to Wikipedia free of charge. Another company they partner with is Deezer, a music streaming service which selected FLOW (then LIME) as their exclusive Caribbean partner. FLOW allows its Prepaid and Postpaid subscribers across all their markets to access the free subscription tier as well as Deezer's premium tier. The company allows payment for the premium tier by either deducting the converted charge (from USD - where applicable) from the attached wireless account (Prepaid) or charging for the service on said wireless account monthly (Postpaid). FLOW also has a music streaming website with curated playlists, powered by Deezer.
FLOW is also Apple's exclusive wireless partner for most of the Anglophonic Caribbean. The partnership began in June 2011 when CWC acquired 'wireless partner' status with Apple. The company then, through its former consumer brand, LIME, began selling the iPhone 4 and the iPhone 3GS. This partnership happened to coincide with previous Caribbean wireless partner, Claro and its departure from the Jamaican market after merging with Digicel Jamaica. FLOW also sells the iPad and the Apple Watch in some retail outlets. Though rival Digicel recently obtained wireless partner status with Apple in Jamaica and The Cayman Islands, FLOW still enjoys Apple exclusivity in many other markets across the region.
FLOW offers apps such as FLOW ToGo (allows pay-TV subscribers to access content on the go) and FLOW Football (allows users to listen to matches which CWC has acquired exclusive rights to). FLOW mobile subscribers can also access information about their wireless account by using the MyFLOW self-care app which allows for purchasing a data plan or a data bolt-on, track minutes used, a call's cost and purchase and track a roaming plan's usage. It is available for iOS and Android users in all of their markets.
Recently, the company converged its services into a single platform named FLOW ID. FLOW ID allows subscribers to access exclusive content from FLOW (such as Manchester United matches as per their partnership with the football club, access to the FLOW Sports App and FLOW Rio 2016 Extra) as well as billing, payment, multi-account management and other pertinent functions.
FLOW also offers an airtime loan service called FLOW Lend. FLOW Lend is an app available for iOS and Android which allows prepaid FLOW subscribers to request an airtime advance (loan) for their account.
FLOW was also an official broadcaster of the 2016 Summer Olympic Games held in Rio de Janeiro, Brasil for the Caribbean region. The games were broadcast on 3 new FLOW Sports Channels in Full HD, available to all of their pay-TV subscribers for the duration of the games. Mobile and Broadband subscribers were able to access the games on-demand or live using the FLOW Rio 2016 Extra App. The app allowed customers to access any game being played at the time of access in live HD (a feature only for FLOW customers with linked Wireless, Broadband or pay-TV accounts to their FLOW ID) as well as medal counts for the user's selected region.
The old Flow and LIME operated numerous stores in each of their own markets. During the brand redesign phase, CWC commissioned retail design experts, Shikatani Lacroix, to come up with a new look and feel of the brand's stores. The new store format was unveiled at the FLOW Fairview store in Montego Bay, Jamaica on October 17, 2015. To date, the new stores have also been unveiled in Portmore in Jamaica as well as in St. Kitts and Nevis. In future, the brand has plans to offer one-on-one customer service, where the customer would be able to purchase handsets on the spot in addition to its other in-store services.
FLOW invests heavily in the communities in the markets which they have a presence. In Jamaica, they have events such as the FLOW Super Cup (An event fashioned off of the FIFA World Cup), FLOW Skool Aid (an event held at the end of every August to help children get back to school) and other small-scale activities like infrastructural donations (Hospital and School refurbishing) and much more.
The merger of CWC and Columbus caused a stir in the Caribbean as most of the fibre-optic links leaving the region were owned by either CWC or Columbus or both. Many industry oversight committees in the region voiced their disapproval of the merger as well as the company's largest competitor, Digicel which at the time did not own any undersea fiber. The governments of Trinidad & Tobago and Barbados conditionally approved the merger given certain criteria. In countries like Jamaica, however, the merger was approved by their Minister with responsibility for Telecommunications uncontested.
The brand has also been criticized for its Telus-operated contact center in El Salvador. The contact center had been existing under LIME and has been accused of having serious language barrier issues and an inability to sympathize with local issues in some of the brand's markets. The brand has now established a new contact center in Kingston, Jamaica, which will be in full operation by May 2016.
- "'LIME' brand to be replaced by 'Flow'". CNS Business. 7 May 2015. Retrieved 31 October 2015.
- 3G NETWORK LAUNCHED IN JAMAICA
- LIME LAUNCHES 4G SERVICES
- LIME opens '4G' experience centres
- CWC plans to fire up telecoms networks with $250m investment
- LIME flips on 4G within 2 weeks
- FLOW celebrates 1 million mobile subscribers in Jamaica
- Cable & Wireless Jamaica Returns To Losses
- "FLOW says it tops competitor in islandwide mobile benchmarking tests". Jamaica Observer. February 9, 2016. Retrieved February 9, 2016.
- "Not so fast says FLOW". Barbados Today. January 27, 2016. Retrieved February 9, 2016.
- "Flow Is Barbados' Fastest Telecoms Provider, Says Ookla". Cable and Wireless Communications. April 7, 2016. Retrieved April 17, 2016.
- Cable & Wireless Reports Preliminary Q1 2016/17 Results
- LIME zest at launch of mobile 4G LTE in Antigua and Barbuda
- FLOW Jamaica upgrade to LTE
- FLOW Jamaica Applies For LTE Spectrum For High Speed Internet
- C&WJ Minority Owners Vote Down Resolution In Protest - Demand Financial Transparency From Company Directors
- FLOW: LTE Cell Sites Test Shows Speed More Than 40Mbps
- FLOW urges TATT: Name third mobile provider
- C&W (Flow) aiming for 100% FTTH coverage as part of USD160m plan
- LIME Barbados launches 1Gbps fibre broadband
- LIME Jamaica launches 100Mbps FTTH service
- Fruits of LIME investment evident; 100Mbps fibre goes nationwide
- LIME, The iPhone 4 And The Death Of The Blackberry
- Wireless carrier support and features for iPhone in Latin America and the Caribbean