Telecommunications companies were among the winners of 2020, the year of the coronavirus pandemic, and Liberty Puerto Rico was no exception. Among the bright spots for the company was completing the acquisition of AT&T’s operations in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands (USVI), at a cost of $1.95 billion. In the third quarter of 2020 alone, Liberty Puerto Rico added 42,700 revenue generating units, driven by its growth in high-speed data subscribers.
“This year brought us tough challenges and major achievements. We shifted our operating model quickly and adapted to a new and completely unexpected scenario. Overall, Liberty was very successful in providing connectivity and entertainment when it was most needed. We certainly had several service challenges due to the sudden increase in demand, the same as most communications companies worldwide, but we were able to supply internet, video and telephony services to residents and businesses so they could continue going about their lives, working, studying and keeping in touch,” said Naji Khoury, president and CEO of Liberty Puerto Rico.
Numbers speak for themselves, he noted. “We added and retained more customers this year than ever before. Data consumption per household reached record high levels close to 500 Gigabytes per household per month, which is 20 times larger than mobile internet usage per month. We handled record number of calls and messages at our customer service center as well as a record number of new customer hook-ups. We also created almost 200 direct and indirect jobs in Puerto Rico.”
Meeting internet access demand for residential and business customers during the COVID-19 pandemic lockdown was a top priority for the company this year. “We are continuously investing to make upgrades to our infrastructure and increase our network’s capacity, but the demand during the lockdown became so high that we had to advance almost a year’s worth of work in the first weeks of the pandemic. We continued the upgrades throughout the year, increasing our distribution network capacity and our core network capacity by 1,300 Gbps [gigabit per second] to accommodate the increase of up to almost 70 percent in data consumption,” he said.
“Additionally, we continued expanding our service footprint by building 25,000 new homes with our Fiber to the Home connection, which provides speeds of up to 1 Gbps. Fiber to the Home is the standard of new construction since late 2019 and we will continue to reach new and existing customers in 2021,” Khoury explained.
One of the company’s “biggest achievements” this year came on Nov. 2, when Liberty Latin America completed the acquisition of AT&T’s operations in Puerto Rico and the USVI. “This makes us a four-play company by adding mobile to our video, fixed broadband and telephony services. Combined, we have a workforce of over 2,200 employees now. We have welcomed our new colleagues into our family and are currently working together to offer a great experience to our new and current customer base. We continue working with AT&T to enable the efficient transition of services and we are completing the transition process to offer customer service locally with a company-owned call center in Puerto Rico, handling 100 percent of the calls with local agents.
“We are in the process of expanding our employee count to decrease waiting time and deliver quality experience to our customers. The build-out plan to deliver the highest performance 5G services throughout Puerto Rico and the USVI has been continued successfully, as well as network upgrades and maintenance programs,” Khoury said. To date, 90 percent of Puerto Rico and the USVI now have 5G coverage.
On the corporate social responsibility side, Liberty Puerto Rico provided basic internet service for free to over 11,000 customers who could not afford it.