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It will be impossible to turn on the television tonight and not see images of Hurricane Katrina, on the seventh anniversary of the storm that was among the five deadliest and most destructive in history.
The Bahamas Telecommunications Company (BTC) is seeking to significantly increase the footprint of its new EZTop-Up program, with the company budgeting over $1 million for the marketing campaign to increase awareness of it over the next 12 months.
Vice President of Sales and Marketing for BTC Marlon Johnson told Guardian Business that the company is seeking to familiarize Bahamians with the new system and its goal is to have kiosks and terminals in stores available throughout the country in order to make it easy for customers to access the system.
Johnson's comments came days after BTC launched the top-up program, which will allow prepaid customers to add their mobile airtime minutes in ways other than the common method of purchasing phone cards. Consumers can now buy airtime in amounts from $1 to $99 electronically, or through retail outlets that offer the service.
Johnson added that he expects economic and entrepreneurial opportunities to increase as a result of the new system.
That view, however, has not been shared by many street phone card vendors, as they are now being charged significantly more for phone cards than in the past, cutting into their margins.
Another area that will be improved is the security aspect of purchasing phone cards, according to BTC. Johnson said the new system reduces the chances of phone card pin numbers being used before being sold.
"One of the wonderful things about electronic top-up is that it really provides more secure, real-time information that helps everybody from the jump," he said.
Communication by Rt. Hon. Hubert A. Ingraham On the Sale of 51% of Bahamas Telecommunications Company To Cable & Wireless Communications, Plc. (CWC)
At the conclusion of my communication I will table the following documents related to the privatization of The Bahamas Telecommunications Company (BTC) and the sale of 51% of the shares in BTC to Cable and Wireless Communications, Plc
Executives from the U.S. and The Bahamas are descending on Shanghai today to reveal detailed plans behind a $200 million distribution center in Freeport.
The high-profile project, formerly known as AsiaMart, has now launched its website (www.worldmartbahamas.com) and expanded the concept in a big way. The 1.1-million-square-foot hub for international trade zone will know be known as World Mart.
BCEGI-USA Construction Corporation, the American subsidiary of Being Construction Engineering Group, will lead a presentation this week at the Chinese metropolis. Kenneth Hutton, the director of World Mart, is also leading the delegation for The Bahamas.
BCEGI-USA will serve as the general contractor, while The Export-Import Bank of China is expected to provide financing for the $200 million project. Thought to be a game-changer for Grand Bahama, World Mart has gained the support of the Grand Bahama Port Authority (GBPA) and the Chinese Embassy in Nassau.
This week's meeting in Shanghai aims to court some of the first businesses that will take up residence in the massive complex.
According to the recently launched website, World Mart is comprised of five distinct districts geared to specific areas of trade and distribution: Fashion Boulevard, Technology Way, Home Goods Avenue, Manufacturing Place and Season Street.
The latter, for example, offers year-round products with a festive and seasonal flare, such as Christmas, Easter or Halloween.
"Each district in World Mart is a long street followed by a spectacular cul-de-sac at the end. These cul-de-sacs host industry highlights as well as stand as a central location for industry and business conferences," the website said, which is also offered in Chinese. "Frosted glass houses at the center of each cul-de-sac allow the districts featured vendor to be highlighted, or can be closed off for private conferences and private meetings."
Each district is in the shape of a circle, and perhaps most interestingly, a giant glass cube lies in the middle.
"These immaculate cubes serve a dual function," the website added.
"During the day, they feature prominent items from all stores in the cul-de-sac, but when necessary - flip a switch - and they become a private conference facility to host meetings or to give an industry seminar. All cube structures are home to a sound-proof electronic glass, that when on, does not allow anyone to see in or out the structure."
As guests and businessmen enter the Grand Entrance, they are greeted by LED wallpaper, which serves as a compass and allows them to navigate the venue or learn about daily specials.
The space age technology is contrasted by green space dotted between the five districts.
But beyond the commercial power of World Mart is a focus on experience, Hutton told Guardian Business.
The main entrance, also in the form of a circle, will be home to top-end restaurants, services, entertainment and Bahamian businesses. The concept of World Mart is to not just bring big business to The Bahamas, but create a destination in itself.
Plans are also in the works to build a hotel for travellers.
The center will include 1,600 individual stalls, providing merchants from China and around the world with an international platform to trade, sell and distribute mass quantities of goods to corporations through North America, Latin America and the Caribbean.
The Bahamian business model has been fashioned from Yiwu International Trade City, one of the largest wholesale centers in the world.
"We are looking to begin construction in the first quarter of next year, with completion sometime in 2015," Hutton added.
"What is great about the project is its not another mega resort. The focus is on trade and business, and the concept fits in with BCEDI-USA's hope to promote small-to-medium-sized businesses in China by displaying and selling their products through the region."
World Mart is planning other delegations to North America, Latin America and elsewhere to entice an eclectic group of investors and businesses.
According to the latest numbers from the Department of Statistics, the unemployment rate in Grand Bahama is around 21 percent.
World Mart executives estimate at least 3,000 jobs will be created through the center.
We have reached an important milestone in a 14 year voyage during which my Government was motivated by one thing: To bring to consumers in The Bahamas the best of what is available in telecommunications globally, to ensure that those services are reliable and accessible at affordable prices throughout our country.
The Bahamas Telecommunications Company (BTC) has added BlackBerry Z10 to its products line, which executives believe will fill a void for many of its customers.
BTC currently has 15,000 prepaid BlackBerry customers. Alphanique Duncombe, the company's wireless product manager, told Guardian Business yesterday, "We're very excited to actually add the Z10 to our product line."
"They've been waiting for the new BlackBerry. It's so exciting because this is the first of the new engineered, re-designed BlackBerry devices, bringing in that touch screen device. So our customers will definitely eat it up. Of course, we will see our BlackBerry nation grow even larger," she noted.
"Right now, we have about 15,000 BlackBerry customers just in our prepaid customers in itself, so that can give you an idea of the amount of customers that we actually have. A lot of those customers, they are on our 9320s and so forth, so of course, they are going to want to upgrade to the Z10 so we're looking for those loyal customers to come in and upgrade their devices."
Duncombe pointed out that there will be 700 devices available for sale in its initial shipment at any of BTC's stores throughout The Bahamas. She added that there has been a pent up demand coming from customers.
As BlackBerry heads in the direction of mobile computing with its devices, Josh Zelaya, the company's territory manager for Latin America, maintains it has a great relationship with BTC and appreciates "its push of the product".
"They are one of our great Caribbean partners. This is just the beginning as there will be some new devices coming out throughout the year. The Z10 has already captivated everyone's attention. So far, the success of this device has been incredible. It has bypassed our expectations," he shared.
"At the moment, we have the BlackBerry Z10 device. It's one of the top, high-end devices that we have right now. It's a totally new design - hardware and software. We are working on the Q and X software, which is 65 percent of what the high-end vehicles have on their dashboards including the airplanes."
Zelaya maintains that with devices like the Z10, BlackBerry is not just "re-inventing the wheel but putting better tires on it."
One of the strongest features is the electronic keyboard. BlackBerry Balance is another new feature that allows users to cleanly and securely separate work and personal information.
In the coming months, The Bahamas can expect the Q10, combining the features of the Z10 but with the coveted physical keyboard.
The Bahamas Telecommunications Company (BTC) is set to align its cost base with industry standards worldwide, it confirmed in a statement yesterday, leaving street vendors who make a living selling the company's prepaid phone cards fearing that alignment will thin their profit margins to the point of destroying their livelihood.
BTC said in its statement that its EZTop-Up system will make it easier and more convenient for prepaid mobile customers to add time to their phones, at various locations such as cash registers in grocery stores, fuel stations, branded kiosks with uniformed attendants, as well as online through a virtual portal.
Emergency services are a critical component to a health care organization, and its services are instrumental to patients suffering in an emergency situation. To ensure that Doctors Hospitalís Emergency Department was meeting the goals and standards of a JCI accredited hospital, Doctors Hospital implemented a state-of-the-art patient tracking and integrated data system within the Emergency Department.