It has been decades since the telecommunications infrastructure in the territory has gotten a boost, but Innovative Chief Executive Officer Shawn O’Donnell told Rotary Sunrise members Tuesday that the company has recently invested more than $100 million in a new network that will greatly improve service to its customers.
O’Donnell has almost 30 years of experience in the telecom industry, beginning his career as a member of the engineering team at MCI/WorldCom in the 1980s. Most recently, he was president and CEO of the International Carrier Services Division of PTGi, a global provider of advanced telecommunications services. Prior to that, he was president and CEO of Arbinet, a publicly traded company offering voice and data services to telecom providers around the globe.
Speaking Tuesday, O’Donnell said he was installing some of the major equipment currently being used at Innovative in the 1980s. As technology has evolved – and copper thefts have continued to affect the company’s service – it has become necessary for the company to make a change and transition its customers onto a newer, faster and more reliable network, he added.
“If you haven’t looked at Innovative recently, it’s time to take another look,” he said Tuesday.
The nework includes 246 nodes, or connection points, that are backed up by a propane generator that will keep things running if the power goes out. O’Donnell said that, in the past, power outages could affect Innovative’s equipment and cause service disruptions that would take time to fix, but because of the age of the hardware, the company would have to go to the “equivalent of eBay for telecommunications companies” for spare parts.
Innovative has also replaced 1,200 poles that O’Donnell said have become a safety hazard and focused on putting their new lines underground for more reliability.
“The old network had to be shut down. It was not sustainable,” O’Donnell said. “It was not reliable so we made this new investment, and this type of network has been deployed in many cities through the mainland.”
The network is not quite “fiber to the home,” but it is “fiber to the curb and close to the home,” O’Donnell said. This allows Innovative to offer better cable television service, more than 200 channels, high definition options and long-distance telephone, he said. And Internet speeds are also jumping: with the old network, the best speeds customers saw were three megabits per second, and now, the company is already seeing an increase to 12.
The new network is capable of supporting up to 50 megabits per second of download speed, he said.
“This not only makes our customers’ home life better, but it allows your business to be much more productive in the services that you offer,” O’Donnell said.
But the company is not standing still, he insisted. Along with continuing to invest in and expand the network, Innovative is also looking at investing in its employees. O’Donnell said that hundreds of thousands of dollars have also been spent on training, not just in how to use and install the new technology, but on management.
“This makes the company itself more capable, but also helps us to provide a great customer experience,” O’Donnell said.
The next step is fixing two major glitches the company has come across: completing a full network remediation that would take stock of all existing phone lines in the territory (expected to be complete by the end of January) and replacing all nonworking batteries deployed with Innovative’s new cable modem.
“We’re also now in the process of educating our customers on this new type of our device and we are working hard to listen to the concerns they have as they are moving with us to this process,” O’Donnell said.