Sensing an opportunity for growth in the wake of a disaster, Liberty Latin America is seeking to stoke bigger broadband gains as some of its territories recover from last year's devastating hurricanes.
Nearly a year after Hurricanes Irma and Maria pounded the Caribbean, Liberty Latin America is restoring its battered HFC networks in Puerto Rico and other hurricane-hammered areas, expanding its wireline footprint in its Cable & Wireless and VTR markets and boosting data speeds throughout its region. The MSO is also briskly rolling out a new, more powerful WiFi router in both its biggest, most established market, Chile, and some of its C&W markets, with more than 900,000 of the boxes deployed in broadband homes so far.
Starting with Puerto Rico, Liberty's second largest market with nearly 1.1 million homes passed, the cableco is scrambling to re-connect households that lost service after Hurricane Maria struck. Speaking on the company's second-quarter earnings call last Thursday, MSO executives said they have now re-established connections with more than 1 million homes, bringing them closer to their target. (See Liberty Latin America Rebounds From Hurricanes.)
At the same time, Liberty is boosting data speeds in Puerto Rico as it aims to be the island's fastest provider. The company now offers maximum speeds of 300 Mbit/s, along with bullet speeds of 100 Mbit/s, throughout the island.
Similarly, in its dozens of smaller C&W markets spread across the rest of the storm-plagued Caribbean and Central America, Liberty Latin America is restoring service and hiking data speeds over its HFC networks. The company is also extending its HFC networks to new sections and striking M&A deals, most recently scooping up Cabletica, a Costa Rican cable operator. (See Liberty Latin America Enters Costa Rica With Cabletica Buy.)
In Chile, which was spared by last year's hurricanes, Liberty Latin America is playing a slightly different trifecta -- expanding its footprint, increasing data speeds and deploying its new WiFi "Connect" box in broadband subscribers' homes. On the earnings call, Liberty CEO Balan Nair noted that more than 50% of VTR's base of 1.2 million broadband subs now enjoy data speeds of greater than 150 Mbit/s.
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Thanks in large part to all these moves, Liberty Latin America posted robust broadband results for the second quarter. The company added 44,900 data subs -- comprised of 26,900 for VTR, 10,900 for C&W and 7,100 for Liberty Puerto -- to finish June with a total of almost 2.2 million.
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