TSTT loses $316 million, announces $3.7b 5-year strategic plan

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Above: TSTT CEO Dr Ronald Walcott. Photo courtesy TSTT.

TSTT has started its transformation from the traditional legacy telecommunications company of the 20th century into an agile broadband communications organization.  As our Chairman Emile Elias has announced, the Board of Directors has approved a 5-year strategic plan that includes capital expenditure of TT$3.7 billion dollars to make this plan a reality.

The Company will invest in a significant transformation of its IP core, wired and wireless infrastructure, as well as its retail and customer service support systems as part of TSTT’s overarching strategy to become an agile broadband company.  In addition, TSTT undertook a comprehensive reevaluation of all its existing technology.

In line with its tradition of service to Trinidad and Tobago dating back to 1960, TSTT intends to fulfill what it sees as its responsibility to promptly respond to changes in customer needs, competitive factors and important industry trends. 

CEO Dr. Ronald Walcott reiterated that the Company’s plans are organized around four main pillars:

  • EVOLVE & UPGRADE TECHNOLOGY – Develop a mobile network that supports the country’s fastest data speeds with almost ubiquitous indoor and outdoor coverage throughout Trinidad and Tobago.  At the same time, TSTT will roll out an augmented Fiber-Centric Residential Solution that will pass over 200,000 homes.  These solutions will be augmented by a new Mega IP-core network which is scalable to 10 times its current capacity and international bandwidth with a five-fold increase in capacity.  Together, these developments will allow TSTT to deliver virtually any configuration of service to customers.
  • REVENUE GROWTH – Enable a greater than 20% revenue growth over five years.  While this will be predominantly in broadband, TSTT will also explore new lines of revenue such as mergers, acquisitions and joint ventures.  These will complement the drive to support the needs of customers.
  • CUSTOMER SERVICE – Retail transformation will change how TSTT will serve its customers whether in-store, online, through call centers or other distribution networks.  The Company is investing in a full-stack converged service support solution in partnership with Ericsson, a leading provider of network and billing solutions.  TSTT is also currently deploying a Net Promoter Score system which will enable us to get near real-time customer feedback on our service quality, allowing us to readily identify service areas that are most important to them and improve accordingly.
  • RE-ALIGNMENT – There will be an ongoing review of TSTT’s business processes, future technological requirements, productivity and efficiency goals and customer needs, so that we can re-align people and resources in the most efficient and cost effective manner.

Walcott noted that because TSTT will be investing significantly over the next two years, especially in new broadband technology, the existing broadband technology had to be fully reviewed.  The results of the interrogation mandated the need to accelerate depreciation on some assets and absorb an impairment on others, since the assets involved faced shortened revenue-generating life spans and/or impending obsolescence.  The impairment charge amounted to $375 million and the accelerated depreciation was $200 million.  These $575M charges eroded the otherwise normal profitable operations, resulting in an after tax loss of $316M.

Transformation, he said, is already on the way. Phase 1 of the Mobile Long-term Strategy has started and has already registered significant improvements in network capacity and coverage. Phase 2 involves optimizing TSTT’s available spectrum for improving data speeds and building coverage.

Fixed network has seen the re-engineering of the internet infrastructure. Broadband customers in scores of areas with modern GPON (gigabit passive optical network) systems can get up to 25mbps of speed – a precursor to TSTT’s larger fiber roll out program.

Through its partnership with Ericsson, a suite of applications are being customized which will ultimately allow TSTT to improve its speed to market, the speed and efficiency of its customer interactions, and allow an ‘all-in-one’ bill to customers.  At the same time, Ericsson’s global transformational expertise will assist TSTT to expand its capacity to develop and implement sustainable and positive change. 

Customers will see services provided on a new, rapidly scalable IP network that seamlessly integrates support for wired and wireless services.  In effect, the interconnected nature of the network for resilience will dramatically improve service reliability and minimize interruptions.

Customers will be able to choose the mix and characteristics of services that best suit their business, personal or residential needs as the network will fully support inter alia, Internet of Things (IoT) integration for smart homes and connected living.  Further, customers will enjoy a mobile network with coverage and data speeds that fully support their lifestyle needs.

According to Walcott, “Customers will feel justly proud of a national communications provider that is the fuel for economic growth and a better quality of life.  TSTT is exclusively committed to the long term interests of country and citizens alike, and ensures predominantly local repatriation of the profitable proceeds”.

EDITED: Original release amended to change accelerated depreciation from $259 million to $200 million as per a correction requested by AMPLE, TSTT’s PR agency.