Liberty Communications of Puerto Rico LLC (LCPR) marked 2020 with strong subscriber and revenue growth stemming from the company’s drive to provide communication and entertainment services during the COVID-19 pandemic. The numbers were reported by Liberty Communication’s parent company Liberty Latin America (LLA) in its full-year 2020 financial results, which were released on Sunday, Feb. 28. Liberty Latin America is also the parent company of Cable & Wireless, a well-known company in the Caribbean region.
The company reported a record year of revenue generating unit (RGU) additions, driven by broadband products in Puerto Rico as customers demanded high-speed and reliable connectivity solutions. As of Dec. 31, 2020, Liberty reported for Puerto Rico 1,137,700 homes passed, 480,500 fixed customer relationships and a total of 905,600 fixed revenue generating units (RGUs), of which 434,000 are high speed internet customers. Liberty also reported more than one million subscribers in its new mobile division, including Puerto Rico and the USVI market.
Revenue for LCPR, excluding mobile, in Q4 and 2020, grew by 16 percent and 9 percent respectively, driven by 121,000 RGU additions and increased average revenue per user (ARPU) over the last 12 months.
“Although 2020 was a challenging year overall, we had some significant achievements, namely accommodating surges in data consumption, plus successfully transitioning our new mobile assets and workforce from Puerto Rico and the USVI into the company,” said Naji Khoury, president and CEO of Liberty Communications of Puerto Rico. “I am very proud of the hard work our team put in to ensure that more than one million individuals, students and business owners could have the connectivity they needed at a crucial time. We are excited to welcome our new colleagues and customers transitioned from AT&T Puerto Rico and the USVI, and we look forward to providing our customers quality communications and entertainment services in 2021.”
Successful Transition of Wireless and Wireline Operations in Puerto Rico and USVI
Khoury noted that since November 1, 2020, Liberty has been managing the operations it acquired from AT&T very effectively. After completing the customer transition process, operations are running smoothly, showing great results in customer acquisition and retention.
With the acquisition, Liberty now serves over 1 million mobile customers, has a workforce of over 2,200 employees, and operates a call center in Puerto Rico with bilingual customer service representatives. The company also invested in wireless and wireline networks in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands (USVI) to expand coverage and improve connectivity and added over 1,000 capacity and speed expansion projects in the network. The company continues to focus on deploying and expanding its 5G coverage across the territories. Currently, it covers more than 95 percent of the population in all Puerto Rico and the USVI. In addition, 5G utilization rose by 300 percent during Q4 2020.
Committed to the USVI
Liberty also showed its commitment to the USVI by completing important projects started by AT&T prior to the acquisition. One of them was the underground fiber optics cable construction to provide resilience and redundancy against natural disasters and improved performance of the network on the three main USVI islands. These efforts, especially those involving design, planning, performance, optimization and construction, are ongoing without slowing down.
According to Víctor Vera, director of wireless RAN engineering at Liberty Communications of Puerto Rico, the fiber optics underground construction began on Dec. 11, 2019, in St. John, on Feb. 3, 2020, in St. Thomas and on Feb. 5, 2020, on St. Croix. The project is being implemented in two phases, with all three islands progressing simultaneously in both phases. In the project’s first phase, Liberty is already deploying approximately 60 miles of fiber optics throughout the USVI, which will deliver improved mobile service to 50 percent of sites throughout the islands. Phase 1 is scheduled to be completed by June 2021.
“Our customers in the USVI will benefit from an improved cellular network that is more reliable, has an increased capacity and better end cellular service overall,” Vera commented.
With the pandemic, Khoury said that continuing to invest in the communities Liberty serves was a very important part of the company’s work. The Liberty Foundation donated a total of $656,000 to over 50 organizations in Puerto Rico and USVI, which included a $50,000 donation to the Community Foundation of the Virgin Islands (CFVI). The donation was awarded to the USVI nonprofit to expand the company’s corporate social responsibility commitment outside of Puerto Rico now that Liberty Communications serves mobile customers in the USVI. Liberty Puerto Rico also received the Partners for Good 2020 Award from Foundation for Puerto Rico (FPR) and the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) for its commitment to communities in Puerto Rico.