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Horizon raises millions and seeks licence

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A company that intends to bring fast internet speeds and competitive pricing options to Bermuda customers, is waiting to get its hands on an application form to proceed.

Horizon Communications has secured initial investment funding, said to total millions of dollars, and that has allowed it to pivot away from its previous plan of an initial coin offering to raise capital.

When licensed, it intends to provide an island-wide fixed wireless internet service, renting space on established telecommunication towers and masts for its transmission and receiving equipment. It anticipates employing 30 staff, mostly Bermudians, in the next three years.

Gilbert Darrell, chief executive officer, who founded Horizon Communications two years ago, said the goal is to be competitive in speed and pricing in the home market and the business service market.

Speaking to The Royal Gazette, he said: “With our technology we will be more reliable. Our number one goal is to have a truly wireless solution that removes a lot of the issues you have with current wire line provisions, be competitive and be that third pillar of telecoms in Bermuda.”

To proceed, Horizon needs an integrated communication operating licence from the Regulatory Authority of Bermuda.

A moratorium on the issuing of new licences has prevented new entrants into the Bermuda market for six years.

However, a decision by the Bermuda Government to lift the moratorium was followed by an RA public consultation to establish conditions and requirements for new licences. The monthlong consultation ended on May 3. The RA's decisions and recommendations on required policy and regulations are due to go back to Walter Roban, Minister of Home Affairs.

Mr Darrell said: “We participated in the consultation process and now eagerly await the opportunity to submit our application for a new licence.”

He added: “We would like to apply as soon as possible. I've been working on this business for a number of years now. The moratorium was just opened up earlier this year.

“Hopefully, the RA will have an application for us to submit soon. Of course, as someone running a business, the sooner the better for me, but the RA has a process to go through. I hope that process is coming quickly to fruition.”

Once it has secured an ICOL, Horizon intends to acquire and test equipment to launch its “fast, reliable, wireless internet service”.

It said the equipment has been proven in other markets and will be tested and validated for the Bermuda topography. High-speed connections of up top 200 Mbps to home customers, and 1 Gbps to business are envisaged.

Horizon said its service will come “without the hassle and unreliability of cable installations” and that will be ready to launch services using 4G and 5G technology.

Regarding the funding for the project, Mr Darrell said that as the company went through the process of applying for an initial coin offering it had continued seeking investors, and found a Bermuda-based investor keen to provide capital.

“We came to an agreement on terms late last year. At that point we had all our capital promised through our investor, so we did not have to pursue the ICO any longer,” he said.

Mr Darrell could not yet reveal who the investor was, but said Horizon has secured “multiple millions of dollars” for the initial round of capital to launch the business and get equipment.

He added: “The firm is a household name in the private-equity world. It's a pretty big firm that has interests here locally.”

The Horizon team features Elizabeth Schaefer as chief operating officer. She previously held senior management positions at CellOne, which is now One Communications.

Horizon's chief of business development is Ross Barkwell, who has 30 years of experience in telecommunications senior management, worked for Digicel Panama, and has held senior positions in Bermuda with Digicel and One Communications.

Mr Darrell said that once Horizon has an ICOL it would need four or five months to have its first customers operational.

Gilbert Darrell, founder and CEO of Horizon Communications (Photograph supplied)
Elizabeth Schaefer, chief operating officer of Horizon Communications (Photograph supplied)
Ross Barkwell, chief of business development at Horizon Communications (Photograph supplied)

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Published May 30, 2019 at 9:00 am (Updated May 30, 2019 at 4:36 pm)

Horizon raises millions and seeks licence

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