Digicel ended 2006 with a total investment in the Caribbean region exceeding US $1.5 billion, operations in 22 markets and more than 4 million customers, representing subscriber growth in excess of 100 per cent.
In Haiti alone, where Digicel launched in May 2006, the company reached a milestone of 1 million customers after just eight months of operation.
‘Digicel’s progress in 2006 reinforced our position as the largest GSM provider in the Caribbean region, with sustained growth in our existing markets and unrivalled growth through our entrance into new markets, such as Haiti, Trinidad & Tobago, Guyana and El Salvador,’ said a Delves, Digicel Group CEO.
‘We are happy that Digicel’s success throughout the Caribbean continues in the Cayman Islands. Our focus on our customers as our number one priority has helped us become the telecommunications provider of choice,’ said JD Buckley, Digicel Cayman Islands CEO.
‘As we enter our third year of operations in the Cayman Islands, we continue to place great importance on the strength of our network with the ongoing rollout of new technologies including CDMA and the expansion of our EDGE capabilities.’
Digicel achieved many key milestones across its markets in 2006. These include:
• New mobile markets: Since launching Haiti operations Digicel rapidly gained market share reaching 1 million customers by year end. In Haiti, a country with a population of 8.5 million and combined fixed and cellular penetration of 5.7 per cent, Digicel brought an unprecedented investment of US $260 million to the developing nation – the largest investment ever made in the country by an international company. Digicel also launched new telecommunications services in additional markets, including Trinidad & Tobago and Bonaire.
• Strategic acquisitions: In October 2006, Digicel acquired El Salvador mobile operator Digicel Holdings Limited, marking the company’s first entry into the burgeoning Central American mobile telecommunications market. In November 2006, Digicel acquired U Mobile in Guyana and has plans to re-brand-that business later this year. In the first half of 2006, Digicel acquired Bouygues Telecom Caraibe, which extended the company’s mobile operations to Martinique, Guadeloupe and French Guiana.
• Technical innovation: Digicel continued to significantly expand its product portfolio and customer offerings, introducing many first to market innovations such as Credit Me/Credit U, International Call Me, Missed Call Alerts, CaribFlex (allowing credit to be added to Digicel phones from the UK), Push-to-Talk, as well as introducing new BlackBerry devices and the cutting-edge BlackBerry Connect. The rollout of Digicel’s WiMAX technology brought the service to new regions.
• Employees: In response to the company’s rapid growth in the Caribbean, Bermuda, and South and Central America, Digicel reached a 3,000 employee milestone and introduced the one-of-its-kind company-wide employee share option programme, designed to reward each Digicel employee for their outstanding contributions to the company’s business success.
• Capital markets and bond offering: Digicel closed a US $150 million bond offering in August 2006 to fuel strategic growth opportunities in Haiti and Trinidad & Tobago. Led by investment banks Citigroup and J.P. Morgan, the bond financing represented strong investor confidence in the company’s continued expansion efforts in both countries.