Flow Caribbean president promotes deregulation in Cayman

For Flow’s Caribbean President Garfield Sinclair, the future of the Cayman Islands and global business lies in digital connectivity. He describes a world in which everyday tasks, from grocery shopping to cooling homes, are controlled through a convenient, wireless network.

“Connected communities. That’s our vision for Cayman, a completely connected society,” Mr. Sinclair said Monday during a trip to Grand Cayman.

“So I see a world where your fridge talks to your grocer, tells him that you’re out of milk, out of fruit, and groceries land accordingly at your door.”

He described Cayman as a priority market for pushing new technologies and included the nation among the company’s four big Caribbean markets, alongside Jamaica, Barbados and Trinidad.

What Cayman lacks in population, it makes up for in per capita GDP, he said. He described the islands as the “Monaco of the Caribbean” and a hub to push investment.

While a truly “connected community” remains distant, Mr. Sinclair said Cayman is ripe for pilot projects.

“There are all kinds of possibilities for a connected community and connected home. How far we go depends on vision. At the end of the day, this is a public-private kind of initiative and not just driven, unfortunately, by the private sector,” he said.

On one of his first trips to Cayman as the regional president for Cable & Wireless Communications, traded locally as Flow, Mr. Sinclair said he would be promoting his vision for a digitally connected future.

Among his priorities in Cayman will also be pushing market deregulation.

“We understand regulation where there is no competition. We get that. But in a truly competitive environment, we think competition ought to be arbiter of the quality of service and the price and value of service delivered to customers,” he said.

With several wireless and broadband providers in Cayman, Mr. Sinclair described competition as sufficiently robust for a community of 60,000.

Regarding worldwide staff cuts by Digicel, Mr. Sinclair said the move reflects the nature of the industry.

“When I see activity like that happening at Digicel, to me it just signals the need to constantly fine tune your operating model for what is an invariably changing landscape, literally day to day and week to week,” he said.

“I don’t take any comfort from or get too worried about operating model changes. Those guys know what they’re doing, so I’ll leave them alone to do what they’re doing. We’re focused on making sure we’re fit for purpose and to the extent we can, future-proof our operating model.”

He was unconcerned about updated regulations from the Information and Communications Technology Authority, reiterating his interest in market deregulation.

“I’m not sure any of the [ICTA] changes are going to impact the way that we do business or the way we’re going to compete. Like I said, from a regulatory standpoint, we think we are competitive enough to ensure that we have as unfettered a set of markets in this business as possible. That is our main thrust,” he said.

For local infrastructure, he said the company is focused on updating broadband copper networks, rather than implementing a total overhaul.

“We have a fiber investment but we also have a big copper network that we’ve had traditionally on the Cayman wireless side of the business,” he said.

While copper networks were once thought of as dead, he said new technologies are allowing the company to update and salvage infrastructure. He described the copper renovations as a cost-effective way to complement advancements in fiber networks.

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