A buzz of excitement is in the air as everyone is making a push for 4G. Or at least what they suppose is 4G. Before I begin, it is good to note at this point, lest we forget, that these competing technologies are not yet 4G, as that seal of approval can only be bestowed by the ITU (International Telecommunications Union), the Telecommunications arm of the UN (United Nations) which has indicated that WiMax and LTE, more specifically WiMax 2 (IEEE 802.16m), are indeed 4G, albeit not officially, according to the ITU. The ITU’s conditionality is simple: Orthogonal Frequency-Division Multiplexing (OFDM), effectively the same signal multiplexing inherent in WCDMA (Wideband Code Division Multiple Access), a descendant of CDMA Networks and speed capability demonstrable in achieving 100MBps and higher, a criteria neither of these technologies can achieve when the 4G Data Network is loaded to capacity.
In the US of A, Sprint and Clearwire, with whom they have a partnership, is also pushing WiMaX (Wireless Interoperability for Microwave Access), a close cousin of Wi-Fi (IEEE 802.11n) protocol developed by the IEEE (Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers) and like GNU Open Source, is an Open Architecture standard, meaning that it has components and parts made by different manufacturers around a common Open Architecture among Equipment Vendors, a dream of mine personally as an electronics circuit construction aficionado and Telecommunications consultant, specifically in the area of provisioning Fiber Optics, Municipal Wi-Fi (IEEE 802.11n) Networks and Mesh Networks based on these two dissimilar technologies. Not to be outdone, AT&T and Verizon, both fierce competitors in the Broadband arena with their 3G as well as U-Verse and FIOS Fiber Optic Broadband services respectively announced a mere two (2) days later, to turn thing up a notch and push for higher speed in the Broadband by going LTE (Long Term Evolution).
Here in Jamaica, Triple Play Provider FLOW, best known for cable, recently made a local sensation when they not only bumped up their DOCSIS 2.0 based offering of Broadband Cable Internet to 12MBps and 20MBps their highest tiered packages as of Wednesday, October 06th , 2010 up from the previous 8MBps and 15Mbps, but a mere one week and four days (1 week, 4 days) later, made history by carrying Jamaica across the finish line into the 100MBps “Usain Bolt” zone by offering speeds of 50MBps and 100MBps respectively. Supposedly a response to the challenge from Digicel 4G Broadband and Municipal Wi-Fi (IEEE 802.11n) Networks Dekal Wireless and Nubian-1 Tech Services Limited, this is nonetheless an unprecedented move for a Telecom Provider, as typically, in the Broadband Internet Market, Telecom Providers, on hearing credible news of the coming of another Telecom Provider with a (possibly) faster service offering, will increase their speed offering or decrease their prices, whichever is more feasible. It is also usually a response to any signs of increased churn, or Customers leaving the network, usually in droves larger than 10% of their thirty (30) day subscription Customer base.
However, just weeks prior, Triple Play Provider FLOW Marketing Director, Sharon Roper sat down with Observer Business Reporter Camilo Thame and in the subsequent published article three weeks and four days (3 weeks 4 days) ago, commented on the then phenomenon of the semi-liberalized Telecommunications Provider Market in the republic of Trinidad and Tobago, where both Residents and customers were getting speeds of over 100MBps by stating that, quote: “Businesses are already getting those speeds; We definitely will bring 100MBps to households but our priority right now is to get broadband Internet into as many Jamaican households as possible”. Since this same report also revealed the very interesting statistic of Jamaica’s Internet penetration being only 17% of households, coupled with FLOW Marketing Director, Sharon Roper statements, one must wonder what has spurred them to increase their speeds. The story gets better when you now throw in the fact that CLARO, the original harbinger of 3G in Jamaica, has stepped up to the battering cage, so to speak, with their new LTE (Long Term Evolution) aluminium bat, symbolic of the level of spending required to upgrade their network from 3G to LTE, which as I said before, does not meet the ITU standards to even wish to call themselves 4G, a blessing only they can bestow. LIME promptly follow suit, launching LIME 3G. Thus Digicel 4G Broadband is guilty of false advertising, technically speaking, as they are not quite 4G, as per the quarrel now brewing in the Media, based on the actions of Regional Vice-President for Legal, Regulatory and Corporate Affairs, Camille Taylor to the FTC (Fair Trading Commission) complaining of misrepresentation of their true designation of Digicel Broadband 4G Networks.
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