Belize Telemedia Limited suffered a loss of just over five million dollars. During last night’s annual general meeting, officials spoke of competition and the current market landscape. Ivan Tesucum, who recently took over as the company’s Chief Executive Officer, told the media that a return on investments made will be reflected in the 2020/2021 financial year.
Ivan Tesecum, CEO, Belize Telemedia Limited: “I think it’s important for us to realize as well the environment in which we are competing in. One of the things though from a shareholder standpoint is that the dividends that were declared at twenty and a half cents were similar to last year so a return of 4.1%. In terms of what was declared as a percentage of net income it was 59% last year was 45%. As well in terms of where we’re going it’s important to note all the investments that we have made ,part of that is to ensure the viability and the future of BTL. So it’s a matter of looking at what all investments have been made and seeing that now we are positioned well with regards to ensuring that the fiber to the home network continues to provide the level of service that we want to be able to provide and as well the fact that we are now covering 90% of all businesses and residents. So I think it’s looking at not only at what you get now but ensuring that the company is well poised for the future. We’ve just completed the fiber to the home network so right now we’re really running two networks, we’re running the old legacy network which is incurring costs and has customers and then we have the new network. So we need to now move customers over from the old copper network to gain the efficiencies of the new network, that is where savings will come so I think that during this fiscal year that just ended in which the AGM was and the current year in which we are in expenses will peak and then we’ll begin to see what we call operational efficiencies from having a new more modern network, less faults because we’ve decreased faults by 32% year on year so that’s where the savings will come but you’re running two networks at this point in time.”
According to Tesecum, the challenges were many and having to adjust competitively has pushed them to make large investments.
Ivan Tesecum, CEO, Belize Telemedia Limited: “Along the way there have been challenges like any organization there are always challenges. One of the first ones that we had to challenge was that of being a monopoly company. We were born out of that, there was no competition, we had a monopolistic mindset and we had to change that. We had to change that to one whereby we would ensure that we changed it to a commercially competitive environment. We went and we introduced the first of this region of which I hope as shareholders you’re proud of that your company was the first company to have launched in this region the first 4G LTE Advance Network. We cover 90% of this country’s businesses and residences. On top of that we also ensured that we rebranded. Knowing the fact that now we had new technology we rebranded to Digi and if you look at the logo it has the infinity sign; that means opportunities are endless, that’s what this company is all about.”
Chairman of the BTL Board, Nestor Vasquez, addressed the gathering and reflected on how much the telecommunication industry has evolved.
Nestor Vasquez, Chairman, Belize Telemedia Limited: “BTL has had a couple reincarnations subsequent to its birth. As an entity the company can trace its ancestry to 1972 when the law was passed to create a Belize Telecommunications Authority that was a statutory body owned by the Government of Belize. I personally became involved with the statutory predecessor BTA back in 1985 when the government changed, when the UDP first got into power it was December 14th 1984. So in 1985 January all the boards were appointed that was when I first became chairman but of BTA, there was no BTL then. Over the years we have witnessed the convergence of the communications and information technologies- it has grown. We have also witnessed the proliferation of smart phones, the expansion of the world wide web and among all these convergences we are all proud to have seen our own BTL being transformed and adapted to meet all the challenges both external and internal to keep abreast of the world in it’s technology as it grows. In the past year the company has significantly prepared itself for the future. We now have a fiber to the home network, this has brought the company’s total investment in the past ten years to over $500 million- we invested that from our profits and of course we had to borrow a few dollars as well. We have created stable and well paying jobs for over 700 Belizean families and several hundred more via the use of local subcontractors in the development and maintenance of our networks. Our corporate and social responsibility and initiatives are all well known and are largely unrivaled by any other Belizean company in Belize. We have made all these accomplishments while continuing to deliver attractive rates and returns.”
As for the future of the company, Tesecum says they are ready to change with the industry and the consumer demands.
Ivan Tesecum, CEO, Belize Telemedia Limited: “The telecommunication industry is going through a very dynamic and challenging time. Even though we could have predicted some of the market conditions no one could have predicted the depth and intensity at which we now have to change. The acceleration of change is crazy, it’s beyond belief, but that is our job, to ensure that your company is able to meet and address those market challenges. So based on that we now realize like any telecoms company the core revenue from what we used to earn first which was SMS, voice, and data that can no longer support where we’re going and so the critical strategic investments that we have made now are the foundation on which we will now do the transformation and that is what we call Digi 2.0. It’s different services, it’s new revenue streams, it’s to ensure that we monetize your network. These critical strategic investments were necessary, if we did not do this or if we had not done this what we are about to present to you would not have been possible. So when we look at what we want to do going forward we realize and we call it ION, that’s an acronym for Innovation, Opperational Excellence and New Business- again related to the infinity sign.”