Telecommunications provider Flow says it has offered its customers in St. Vincent and the Grenadines a free upgrade of their broadband service.
Speaking at a press conference in Kingstown on Wednesday, Flow’s country manager, Wayne Hull, said that many of the company’s customers are expecting too much from the broadband packages they select, but the upgrade would give everyone a better internet experience.
He noted that the company, earlier this year, announced significant upgrades to its broadband network.
“We have invested in core equipment to upgrade the backbone and the work on the outside plant and the development of the nodes in the communities is ongoing,” he said.
He said the upgrade has allowed the company to give customers a free upgrade, moving customers from Turbo 2 Mbps to Turbo 5 Mbps.
Hull said this comes into effect on Tuesday, adding that the Turbo 5 is now the new entry package.
He said that the company did a one 1 MB upgrade earlier this year but did not make an announcement.
“But because we have done the necessary upgrade, it has now given us the capacity to upgrade the speed. So I think this will be a welcome change for customers.”
He said the Turbo 12 Mbps has been upgraded to Turbo 15.
“And this will give customers an extra 2 megabytes on their speed without any increases on their bill.
“And just these two services alone impact roughly about 80 per cent of our customer base. So the subscription level to the lower end speed is still pretty high,” he said.
Hull said that his company advises its client on what the various speeds are suitable for.
“For instance, with 5mbs, this is mainly good for browsing, emailing, doing your online shopping and occasional streaming. And it is generally tiered for persons with smaller households.”
He said that for persons who want to do more and have more people in their household and a lot more devices, Flow recommends an upgrade to Turbo 15.
“With more devices, it is better for connection purposes,” he said, adding that the company offers up to 100 Mbps speed, adding that the Turbo 25 is much better for streaming television.
It was pointed out that notwithstanding the announcements of an upgrade earlier this year, many people are complaining on social media about the company’ service.
Elimination of congestion
Hull said that the major upgrade was done to remove the congestion that happens sometimes in mid-September.
“From my perspective, we have given the customers a bit of time to experience the better service and we have actually seen the usual traffic on the network increase drastically, meaning that persons are now able to download now, because you will see the spike in the traffic on the network.”
He said that the company does not have a single node that is congested.
“We have to give it time, obviously, for the customer to feel confident that this thing is beginning to operate the way it should.”
He said the company would give it about three months.
“But what we are seeing, the number of faults being reported are coming down slightly over the last 30 days or so. But it has not been a very long time [since the upgrade was done],” Hull said, noting that the upgrade was done in mid-September.
He said that another issue is that almost 70 per cent of the customers signed up for the minimum speed, previously Turbo 2, which was just 2 Mbps.
“And the majority of people want to use that to connect a mobile phone, maybe a laptop, maybe another son or daughter in the house on a mobile phone and plus they have a box streaming. And I think sometimes it a lack of education why customers don’t understand that you can’t be streaming [on those speeds] and expect to get steady service with 2 megabytes of service.”
He said the company has been doing videos to educate people.
“But I guess we have to do a bit more from our side to educate people about the speed.
He, however, said that when a customer signs up, the agent advises them about the capabilities and suitability of the various packages.
Hull said this is one of the reasons why his company is upgrading the speeds for free.
“… because people will continue to complain… We are taking it to Turbo 5 so that people can experience a better service,” he said.