Digicel Woes in Trinidad


The following article was printed in the Jamaica Daily Gleaner, and I thought it was a useful follow-up to my prior post:


Digicel woos T&T’s media
published: Friday | February 3, 2006

Barbara Ellington, Lifestyle Editor

Digicel’s head of public relations, Maureen Rabbitt, chats with Marlan Hopkinson of Trinidad’s Power 106 I95 FM. Mr. Hopkinson was one of five media representatives from the twin-island republic who visited the island as guests of Digicel last week. – RUDOLPH BROWN/CHIEF PHOTOGRAPHER

DIGICEL JAMAICA Limited last week hosted a five-member delegation of print and electronic media journalists from Trinidad and Tobago. The purpose of the visit was to give the journalists a first-hand look at their Jamaican operations and high level of acceptance it receives from the population.

When they return to Trinidad they will then be in a position to report to Trinidad on their findings about Digicel, who are currently waiting on interconnectivity licence to operate in Trinidad. They hope to be up and running in the twin-island state by April this year.

Since Digital’s entry into the Jamaican telecommunications landscape just under five years ago, they have aggressively gone after majority market share and toppled the previous monopoly owner Cable and Wireless from their number one spot. They have since gained a foothold in several other islands and last year bought Cingulair’s share of the Caribbean cellular market.


But the road to success in Trinidad has not yet been duplicated, particularly because Digicel is seen as aggressive and TSTT, the reigning cellular provider, is seen as an institution.

“Trinidadians have the attitude that ‘we have problems with TSTT, but it’s ours, so ease off, Digicel’,” Marlan Hopkinson of radio I95 FM told The Gleaner.

Mr. Hopkinson said further that TSTT has embarked on a massive multimillion-dollar campaign, using popular personalities to spread anti-Digicel rhetoric.


I somehow don’t think that Digicel is seen, or has tried to portray itself, as a Caribbean institution. In the Trinidadian press, the descriptions of Digicel have said more about its obviously Irish roots and ownership, than the fact that the company was started in Jamaica by Irish entrepreneurs.

Also, Digicel (as far as I can tell from the outside) seems intent on hiring non-Caribbean nationals to its highest positions across the region, and therefore keeps reinforcing the image that it is an Irish company. In Trinidad, the whole Irish/Jamaican combination has not gone down well. It only added fuel to the fire created by the mess that the company made in the West Indies cricket sponsorship debacle.

A recent article I read (that I now cannot find) predicted that Digicel will not come close to gaining the kind of market share it did in Jamaica. We shall see.