Digicel’s long anticipated WIMAX 4G has finally gone live after months of testing and fine tuning the network for optimum performance. The service is set to rival LIME’s broadband ADSL, mobile 3G connectivity being offered by Claro and LIME and the newcomer Dekal Wireless with their wireless broadband based on Wifi. As you can see WIMAX (World Interoperability for Microwave Access) has a lot of competitors offering increasingly better rates and speeds to consumers in Jamaica, so it has a lot of ground to make up in the first few months of it’s incarnation. How does Digicel’s WIMAX stand up to these rival services? In Part 1 of this Digicel Jamaica Wimax Review I will be covering 2 main areas.
- WIMAX: The Technology
- Hardware Overview
WIMAX: The Technology
Wimax is an IEEE standard for broadband distribution commonly referred to as 802.16. Wimax is sometimes confused with Wifi since they are both based on the same 802. Open standard, however they are different both in the way they operates and the hardware involved. The first technology officially branded Wimax was 802.16d-2004 which offered last mile broadband access in places where broadband cables are difficult to set up. Wimax was further improved with 802.16e-2005 which added improved security performance, greater bandwidth and improved latency and spectral efficiency. 802.16e was also the first Wimax iteration to gain true mobility with the decrease in antenna and chip size caused by the overall improvement of the standard. Wimax 802.16e has a maximum speed output of 75mbps under ideal conditions, this bandwidth is diced according to load or according to the ways in which it will be used. Mobile wimax 802.16e has enabled mobile phones, laptops and netbooks to have high speed broadband access on the go, a feat that the older standard could not match.
- CPE modem
- USB modem
Digicel’s wimax modem comes in two flavors: a hardcover notebook sized CPE modem and a usb dongle the size of a thumb drive. The modem themselves are suited to different purposes with the CPE packing a lot more features and functions when compared with the normal usb dongle, however the dongle is far more portable and much easier to use if you are in an area blanketed by Wimax signal.
The CPE is relatively large with the antenna in the front of the panel and is built entirely of plastic. The CPE consists of four LAN ports and 2 VOIP ports for basic wired connectivity and an internal wifi transmitter for wireless connectivity. The four LAN ports allows up to four computers to connect simultaneously while the wifi is for those situation where wireless connectivity is desired. The interesting thing to note here though is the 2 VOIP ports which allows for up to two analogue telephones to connect simultaneously, unfortunately no voice service have been announced yet by digicel so you wont be using this until then. The CPE has a narrow silver strip covered by transparent plastic on the front with the following indicators:
- Wimax (blinks slowly when searching for signal, blinks quickly when connecting , stays on if connected)
- Signal strength indicator 1 (between 5 and 15 dBm, poor reception).
- Signal strength indicator 2 (between 16 and 24 dBm, good reception).
- Signal strength indicator 3 (over 25 dBm, excellent reception).
- VOIP line 1.
- VOIP line 2.
The CPE naturally holds onto signal much better than the usb dongle and does a lot better job of getting connected in the first place. Where I liv e(check the google maps image in the 3rd section of the review) I get no signal on the usb dongle but still manages to pick up signal on the CPE, though on the low side.
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