US COMPANY JOINS WITH JAMAICANS IN DATA PROCESSING

US COMPANY JOINS WITH JAMAICANS IN DATA PROCESSING

A U.S.-Jamaican data-processing venture that serves U.S. customers has made Jamaica the site of the Caribbean's first image-processing business.

The move further establishes Jamaica as a key in the region's growing data service industry.Strategic Concepts Inc. of Rogers, Ark., and Transport Data Ltd. of Jamaica, began to process data at their joint facility in January, according to company spokesmen.

The venture uses image scanners and satellite transmissions at a multimillion-dollar plant in the Montego Bay free trade zone.

The joint venture, Imports Inc., based in Miami, offers the first low-cost data processing service in the Caribbean where a physical transfer of documents is not necessary, according to Edward Cooley, president of Strategic Concepts, the technology provider in the venture.

The company joins 10 other data processors in the Montego Bay zone using the satellite-linked Earth station located there.

Some 30 data processing companies are now based in Jamaica, and hold about 25 percent of the Caribbean market, according to a Derryck Cox, the trade commissioner for Jamaica's Economic Development Agency.

Other competing islands are the Dominican Republic and Barbados, whose data processing services are based on the air-cargo transfer of documents to, if not from, the processing facilities.

The Jamaican Earth station is an $8 million venture operated by Jamaica Digiport International, a 1988 joint venture between American Telephone & Telegraph Co., Cable & Wireless PLC of the United Kingdom and Telecommunications of Jamaica, the holding company for Jamaica's state telephone company.

The station is the only digital telecommunications facility in Jamaica and offers digital international long-distance, 800-number services and switched and dedicated high-speed data circuits up to 1.5 megabits, according to Gary Watson, head of marketing for Jamaica Digiport in Miami.

Among the data-processing services that Jamaican data companies offer are data entry, telemarketing, reservations, software design, cogeneration programming and processing text editing, Mr. Watson said. Services are provided to the United States, Canada and Britain, he said.