Business

Paulwell nudges Digicel towards building outsourcing office space

BY HORACE HINES Observer staff reporter MONTEGO BAY, St James

Wednesday, March 26, 2014    

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PHILLIP Paulwell gave Digicel a nudge to establish a Digi City inside Montego Bay to bolster the number call centre and other office space.

"I challenge Digicel, in addition to the opportunities that exist here for competition, to now look outside to see if they can establish their own Digi City to create a million square feet of office space that will employ thousands of Jamaicans in business process outsourcing activities, but also looking at the upper end of the ICT spectrum," argued the telecommunications minister.

Digicel Business's Jason Corrigan told the Jamaica Observer that "it's certainly something that we will look at and possibly deliver".

Paulwell explained that research has shown that North American investors are now rethinking their strategy of growth in India, Phillippines and Indonesia and have their sights set on the Caribbean, especially Jamaica because of "our close proximity".

"I think that Digicel, along with the others, would have a good business case as they have reached saturation point for voice telephone service in Jamaica, to now look to see how they will grow their business and their revenues by going into creating plug and play facilities," said Paulwell. "The investor who comes to Jamaica wouldn't have to deal with real estate development, wouldn't have to be dealing with telecommunications issues. They will have ready-made facilities, which is what they are seeking and which is one of the reasons why we have lost so many opportunities."

Both Paulwell and Corrigan made their comments following Digicel Business' ground -breaking of a $600-million next generation underground fibre network in Montego Bay last week.

The fibre is being laid along Bevin Avenue in Montego Bay, to the Montego Freezone and Fairview -- major areas of the business processing outsourcing (BPO) industry.

"It's our first underground fibre and the most sophisticated next generation fibre. Its going to service the Freeport area and also the Freezone area in Montego Bay and then also Fairview," Corrigan explained.

The telecommunications minister made it clear that the dismantling of the monopoly with LIME, which was the sole provider in the Freezone area, opened the door for provision of service by other telecommunications providers.

Since then, Flow joined the fray, ahead of Digicel, which became the third provider last week.

Gloria Henry, assistant vice-president of operations, Port Authority of Jamaica, in charge of Montego Bay Freezone Company, welcomed the third provider.

"We are very, very pleased that Digicel has entered this industry and it will allow us to go up the value chain in terms of offering higher margin types of services in knowledge process outsourcing in IT outsourcing and so on," Henry said.

Chairman of the Business Process Industry Association of Jamaica (BPIAJ) Yoni Epstein also welcomed the new provider.

"This development with Digicel going into the fibre business is just another step in the right direction for Jamaica as a regional and global provider for BPO services. As you heard the minister say, every company in the Freezone, in the BPO sector currently is growing, which is a great thing for Jamaica," said Epstein, who is also chief executive officer of Island Outsourcers.

"Having a third player in the world of fibre technology and ICT is only going to enable the companies to provide better service for their customers abroad at a cheaper price, which at the end of the day will mean more business for Jamaica, provide more jobs and have a more successful BPO sector."

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