The next couple of weeks will be decisive ones for Liberty Puerto Rico, as it sets off a number of strategies it has laid down to improve services and pricing offers to its recently acquired OneLink Communications customer portfolio.
Liberty CEO Naji Khoury told this media outlet Thursday that San Juan metropolitan area customers — both individual and corporate — can expect to see changes start to take effect as early as next week, when it will begin rolling out new channels, offering better set-top boxes with additional functions, and overhauling its customer service.
“People are expecting very fast changes, and we’re working as fast as we can. I think February and March will be the months when people will start seeing all of the changes,” said Khoury.
In terms of the channel lineup, the executive said OneLink customers can expect to see the addition of new regular and high-definition viewing options, as well as new service tiers that may resemble what Liberty already offers in the 37-town footprint it served prior to the $500 million acquisition of the San Juan cable system.
“For example, at Liberty we offer the ‘beIn’ Sport Network, which we will likely be adding to the OneLink portfolio, as well as Spanish-language packages for households that prefer more options in Spanish, with certain networks mixed in,” he said. “Programming is not an easy task because you have to negotiate channels individually, but I anticipate that by the end of the first quarter we should be fairly close to the lineup we want to have.”
Although he refrained from going into specific pricing alternatives — which are still being worked out — Khoury said there will be new offers for the triple-play of services: telephony, television and Internet.
The issues of pricing and channel options have been longstanding sore spots among OneLink customers who have historically complained about limited — yet expensive — services from the provider.
Liberty Cable Puerto Rico closed its acquisition of the OneLink system in November, and began making adjustments quickly. The first thing the new owners did was to eliminate Internet usage caps and increase speeds for both individual and business consumers.
Last week, the company also launched a new pricing structure for the small and mid-sized business segment, offering telephone service starting at $60 a month for several lines.
“The amount of work that has been done in the past couple of months has been nothing short of incredible. We’re focusing on improving the overall customer experience and that has to do with many aspects,” Khoury said.
Having said that, Khoury also acknowledged the dissatisfaction felt by a segment of OneLink customers who last year were forced to adopt set-top converter boxes for basic service on all television sets as part of OneLink’s full digital upgrade.
The small boxes — and equally small remote controls — will probably be “upgraded to something better” in coming months, he said.
As for extending service into Old San Juan, where a traditional cable provider has never served residents due to construction restrictions enforced throughout the historic zone, Khoury said he has “challenged” the construction teams to find a way in.
“So far, it’s been rough. You cannot get permits to dig the streets to place underground cables, so it’s a challenge. I have a couple of ideas that we’re working through, but it will take some time,” he said.
Finally, Khoury confirmed that the OneLink brand will be phased out sometime this year, with the Liberty brand prevailing throughout the system.