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Flow wholesales Internet feed to TSTT, Digicel
Flow Trinidad, a subsidiary of Columbus Communications, sells wholesale Internet feed to Telecommunications Services of T&T (TSTT), Digicel and others, Columbus business services (CBS) enterprise sales manager Graeme Ottley said on Monday.
While speaking to an audience of mainly entrepreneurs who were attending a workshop hosted by Ele Training and Consultancy Services Ltd at the University of the West Indies’ Arthur Lok Jack Graduate School of Business, Ottley said: “TSTT, Digicel buy Internet from Flow. Flow sells Internet to every service provider in T&T.”
He was expanding on a point on his powerpoint slide that Flow has grown from providing 70 to 90 per cent of the English-speaking Caribbean’s Internet traffic.
“If you have a blink-on-the-go modem from bmobile, chances are the feed is coming from Flow,” he said.
Answering questions after his presentation, Ottley told the Business Guardian: “Although I sell to TSTT, we are not their only game. They have Internet bandwidth from different providers. As do we. That’s how the game is played. The same applies for Digicel. It’s just quality (of) service to make sure they don’t put all their eggs in one basket.”
He said the TSTT also has its own infrastructure.
Ottley said Flow is piloting the delivery of 300 megabytes (MB) bandwidth to homes. At present, the maximum bandwidth available for homes is 100 MB. The average speed available at F-spots, which are free broadband Internet hotspots across the country at Mario’s Pizzerias and Rituals Coffee houses, is 15 MB.
Ottley expects that after some plant upgrades this year, consumers would be able to sign up for 300 MB packages in their homes. He said if the customer is a NetFlix subscriber downloading a movie, for example, “it will come down like fire.”
The sales manager spent most of his presentation to the entrepreneurs talking about Flow’s cloud computing services. Cloud computing is the practice of using a network of remote servers hosted on the Internet to store, manage, and process data, rather than a local server. A server is a computer that manages access to centralised resources or services in a network.
Ottley told the businesspeople it will be more cost effective for them to use Flow’s cloud than to buy equipment for such activities as cloud conferencing and backup.
Asked if companies would not be handing over confidential information to Flow, he said: “Yes, but it’s secure and it has all the service levels that you would pay a lot of money for, so although it’s a public cloud, it’s still within your space and nobody else can see it.”
He said Flow is not interested in looking at it anyway, and customers can also encrypt the data they upload.
Ottley told the businesspeople about a new trend of “bots” taking residence on Internet users’ computers. He said the “bots”—so called because they are computer files that work like robots—are not detected by antivirus programmes because they are not viruses. Bots, however, sit on computers surfing the Internet and, for days, do nothing, in order to stay unnoticed until their creators are ready to wreak havoc and cause destruction similar to viruses.
Asked why does Flow not stop the bots at the gate, given that it provides 90 per cent of the Caribbean’s Internet traffic, he said “because that’s not our mandate. We are broadband providers. When you buy Internet from me, I put nothing on it. What you do with it and what you use it for is ultimately your responsibility. You really need to protect your end. You are accessing the Internet and the information is yours, so you need to protect your information, your asset.”
Ottley said the same freedom that allows the Internet to be unrestricted is what allows troublemakers to cause problems.
“Remember, the Internet is designed to be open. I cannot regulate it or police it as a wholesaler,” he said.
“As an integrator for business, however, I can add value that says I can protect your asset base, either your information or your machine from these threats, but not every threat is a real risk, because everybody’s business is different.”
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