Internet access is no longer a luxury or an idle pursuit to follow mediocre social media content,” says Kurleigh Prescod, country manager, Flow Trinidad.
Speaking last Friday at the launch of a new Flow retail centre at Gulf City Mall, La Romaine, Prescod said internet access “is the unofficial public utility, a necessary for our routines, a must have for SMEs and other businesses, a connection for transactions and discussions that do not include finance. Connectivity is basically… life”.
The opening of the retail centre is being touted as the firm’s response to the growing need for broadband and other technology-based services, especially for citizens in southern communities.
“If any of our guests remember our previous retail centre located at Keate Street, San Fernando, it was a cosy place for what we needed at the time. But as our Flow community increased, we realised that we had to transform, to relocate to a facility that allowed accessibility, comfort, and top-notch service. Our new store at Gulf City is the response to those needs,” said Prescod.
“As an internet and entertainment provider, we understand that each customer is unique with the services he or she requires. Therefore, the onus is on us to ensure that we invest and deliver those needs. Take for example, the expansion of our broadband network to cover 2,000 homes in South Trinidad.
“Today, Flow is doing its part to strengthen connection across the nation by expanding our reach to communities in South Trinidad. Our spanking new centre at Gulf City Mall is the designated hub for our South customers located as far as Siparia,” he added.
He noted that 2020 was a challenging year for everyone in more ways than one, and for many, it meant recentralising themselves to manage working from home, children with online classes, and limited movement, because of the Covid-19 pandemic. However, the country and its people were able to embrace the many opportunities that came with the challenges.
He said Team Flow has been able to do the same and despite the challenges has supporting the move to online work and learning. “Because of our determination to ensure work and school routines are in sync, we achieved our highest number of broadband subscribers ever by the end of 2020,” he said.
“Last year, we activated connections at Harmony Hall HDC Development in Marabella. We also linked Barrackpore, Tableland, Chatam, Cap de Ville as well as Mendez Village, Siparia. We are not finished though, by the first quarter of this year, we are scheduled to include Avocat Village, Fyzabad, and Princes Town in our expanding network,” Prescod added.
“At the same time, I cannot help but think about other families and individuals who are still faced with the struggle of finding some peace of mind - a safe place to stay, a job they can hold on to, and education access for their children. One of my prayers for 2021 is that we, as a nation, continue to help those in need,” Prescod said.
He noted that Flow, through its corporate social responsibility initiative, understood the need to assist children, hence the additional focus in support of ICT adoption in schools.
“This is a continued effort via our partnership with pennacool.com in which we provide broadband and video support for principals and teachers who are preparing students for SEA examination. In these unusual times, pennacool.com’s programme is the go-to online revision platform. In addition to the tablets some students received to assist with their online revisions, some teachers are using the school’s facilities to ensure they are connected with their studies,” he said.
He said in addition to providing broadband to student support centres across the La Brea Constituency and the donating of tablets under the Ministry of Education’s Adopt A School programme, Flow also hosted a tablet promotion over the Christmas season, providing tablets valued at US$250 to customers at a cost of TT$200.
“Therefore, we continue to make inroads to ensure that connectivity-through broadband, Wi-Fi, or devices, is paramount.
Meanwhile, San Fernando mayor Junia Regrello, who spoke with Express Business on the benefits of the retail centre, said its opening will result in the employment of additional persons, especially in these Covid pandemic times.
“Anything to do that will employ additional persons I will be very happy for the city of San Fernando. More importantly, that venue, from what I saw this morning and what I’ve been told by Flow officials, is the first of its kind in the Caribbean, and the first in Trinidad.
“I’m glad for San Fernando because San Fernando, once more, is taking the lead in technology. We’ve been known to be the education capital, the financial capital, the industrial capital but also the capital of technology. So I’m very impressed that Flow is making this investment in the city of San Fernando.”
Regrello said he was also happy that Flow had moved to the current location because the previous location on Keate Street was very cramped and it created havoc for traffic and congestion for people trying to get into that small space.
“Where they are now is more accessible and parking will not be a problem. The mall has extended hours to facilitate persons who are working and coming home after four and not able to access the outlet to pay their bills, resulting in disconnection. So from many standpoints this is a plus for Flow and for San Fernando.”
Regrello said while the opening of the retail centre may have the potential to boost traffic and economic activity in the mall, he was more focused on the improvement it will have on citizens’ lives and their operations.
“If it will help the mall then that is where the mall would have engaged Flow and Flow would have engaged the mall to work out their transaction based on that. It’s very obvious that the mall has a high density of traffic especially with young people so there’s no doubt that it would benefit them,” Regrello said.