Columbus Networks plans to invest $7 million to continue expanding its broadband infrastructure in Puerto Rico next year, adding to the $10 million the company has already pumped into its local operation since arriving to the island in 2010.
The investment plan calls for building upon its high-speed fiber optic network while acquiring the necessary equipment to do so, beefing up staff and expanding its local presence, high-ranking company executives said Thursday during a meeting with a select group of members of the local media.
“We’re looking to position Puerto Rico as an international gateway through which we can connect our Latin American and Caribbean markets,” said Eduardo Gandarilla, vice president of sales for Columbus Networks’ Pan American and Caribbean region.
Columbus Networks has been experiencing rapid growth in the telecom market, reason for which it has decided to expand its presence, and its portfolio of products and services in Puerto Rico.
The strategy that calls for offering a full portfolio of services that integrates Information Technology with cloud-based services is being replicated in operations in Panama, Honduras, Guatemala, El Salvador, Jamaica, Trinidad and Grenada, Dominican Republic.
Puerto Rico has great growth potential for the corporate IT service market, as it is home to more than 800 large and medium enterprises, according to Puerto Rico Trade and Export statistics. In the current economic environment, when companies are looking to do with less, the “cloud” seems like the natural go-to option, company officials said.
However, Gandarilla said Thursday adoption has been quite slow on the island.
“Right now, Puerto Rico is in diapers when it comes to using the cloud,” he said. “There’s a way to go before we can say a lot is being done in that environment.”
A couple of years, in fact, predicted Félix Lugo, recently appointed country manager for Columbus Business Solutions, a division of Columbus Networks, in Puerto Rico. His job will be ensuring the company’s growth and remaining aligned with the expansion strategy for cloud services across the island.
“In a few years, you’ll see at least half of the island’s companies using cloud-based services,” he said.
Lugo is a seasoned executive with more than 20 years of experience in telecommunications and achievements in the area of finance, sales and marketing. Prior to joining Columbus in 2010 — when the company opened its Guaynabo offices — as sales manager, Lugo had gained experience in both local and international companies, including WorldCom and Centennial de Puerto Rico.
By adopting cloud-based services, companies can save on technology — as they are spared from upgrading to newer equipment once their current ones become outdated — and can “dedicate their IT resources to planning and strategizing on the best ways to move the business forward,” he said.
Adoption of cloud-based technology has been somewhat held back precisely because of bureaucracy and a lack of enough information about the benefits of having software applications reside in virtual servers. Companies are also concerned about security issues, said Gandarilla.
“One of the main benefits of the cloud is the agility with which it allows companies to do business. The Puerto Rico government is promoting making investments to export products and services when the truth is they can export services on the cloud without having to buy a data center or serviers,” Gandarilla said. “In fact, we could help companies be in business in another country in a week. We can put Puerto Rico on the map through the cloud.”