General / Weekend News

Telemedia makes investments in schools and technology

Belize Telemedia Limited is planning a leap forward in two areas: computer training for the next wave of professionals both inside and outside the company; and a revamped national network that will see the state-run company take the lead again in service to customers.

On Tuesday afternoon, BTL signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with St. John’s College Junior College (SJCJC) to introduce an Associate-level program in Computer Networking emphasizing IP Technology.

The Catholic institution also received a newly refurbished computer and diagnostic lab funded by the state-run telephone company, part of a quarter-million-dollar investment in the program. Executive Committee chairman of BTL, Anwar Barrow, told the Reporter that BTL is changing its approach to finding the people it needs to fill technical job positions with the company by training some of them in collaboration with SJCJC.

Since the new program began at the start of the college’s current semester, 10 employees of BTL are among the 20 initial students and the company plans to enroll 40 more over three years; but the program is also open to the public.

Barrow says is the start of what is expected to be a productive year for the state-run telephone company; he projects an upturn in revenues after several years of decline, due to continuous upgrades to customer service and technology.

The centrepiece of the company’s plans is its 4G network, soon to be upgraded to LTE. Barrow says it will be bigger, better and cover more of the country. The company also plans for the traditional wired services for telephone and cable to be upgraded as well.

BTL has calculated an increase of 15 to 20 percent of customers by giving more: access to voice-over internet protocol (VOIP), cheaper calls and internet services, much of which is now bundled.

But customers have reported complaints with the current grade of the network, problems which Barrow attributes to high volume – an increase of 800 percent in the past few months, he reported. To those impatient for better service, he asks that they wait a little longer and they will get “world-class service.”

Even as he promised the new LTE version of the network within the year, Barrow had little but praise for rivals SMART, who beat his company to introducing the next-level network a few weeks ago.

Either way, Barrow says, the consumers and the nation benefit; but as for BTL, they look to continued improvements as a result of the $10 million they have spent in the past few months.

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