How FLOW’s 70 Mbps VDSL in St. Ann means FTTH, 4G LTE on North Coast

As we all know from Kelroy’s article Flow to upgrade Fiber Internet Service + islandwide 4G and LTE coming soon, FLOW Jamaica is ramping up to launch 4G LTE sometime in 2016.

While Digicel Guyana’s launch of “4G” proved to be a huge letdown as wistfully opined in Digicel Guyana’s 4G launched as Bermuda and Jamaica may still get 4G LTE, one wonders what’s FLOW Jamaica been up to lately?

Based on a source of mine in St. Ann who had being doing some sleuthing work in the Brown’s Town community where he hails from, FLOW Jamaica has been upgrading since January 2016. According to my source, FLOW Fiber Optics Engineers were observed inspecting their ADSL (Asynchronous Digical Subscriber Line) Network with plans to upgrade to a VDSL (Vectoring Digital Subscriber Line).

How FLOW's VDSL in St. Ann means FTTH, 4G LTE on North, South Coast (2)

The FLOW Jamaica Technicians had gone to lunch and locked the gate to the Brown’s Town exchange, but he was able to crawl on his belly and sneak inside while their backs were turned.

How FLOW's VDSL in St. Ann means FTTH, 4G LTE on North, South Coast (1)

He used his smartphone and snapped those wonderful pictures of the OPM (Outside Plant Module) showing Nortel Networks Line and Processor Cards above. Apparently they plan to remove these and upgrade the OPM to a VSLAM!

Looks like they’d also started work on upgrading the Fiber Optic Cabinet, as he was able to snap these pictures of their as-yet-to-be completed cross-connections in the Comtest Networks Model 4144 POTS/ISDN splitter, suggesting that they were indeed doing upgrading work on their ADSL Network.

How FLOW's VDSL in St. Ann means FTTH, 4G LTE on North, South Coast (3)

According to my source in Browns Town, St. Ann, up till Wednesday April 13th 2016, FLOW Jamaica had completed 90% of the MSAN (Multi-Service Access Node) rollout as show by their Fiber Optic work, seen in Yellow Fiber Optic Trays above.

How FLOW's VDSL in St. Ann means FTTH, 4G LTE on North, South Coast (4)

Interestingly too, my source also reported that FLOW Jamaica had also been running underground fiber cabling at their Drop node in Spanish Town to St. Ann’s. Alas, he had to beat a hasty retreat but was able to make it home safely to send me these pictures.

My source was adamant that they were upgrading their backhaul Network for a massive amount of Data traffic, possibly from a coming 4G LTE Network. Currently, Brown’s Town and its environs enjoys faster HSDPA+ download speeds of 7.20 MBps and upload speeds of 2.14 Mbps….if you’re standing under the tower as my brave source did.

How FLOW's VDSL in St. Ann means FTTH, 4G LTE on North, South Coast (1)

At this point a quick primer on the connection between VDSL and FTTH is required, dear reader.

All this evidence hints at a possible FTTH Network, as VDSL equiptment is forward compatible with FTTH as the video above shows. So does this mean that FTTH is in the works?

VDSL and FTTH in Brown’s Town, St. Ann – 4G LTE on North and South Coast thanks to Huawei and Ericsson

My source went silent for awhile, leaving me to contemplate Digicel Play and their 20,000 customer milestone as penned in Digicel Play’s 20,000 customers in March 2016 means 60,000 by December 2016.

Then in May 2016, he contacted me via the usual methods. He’s lost his smartphone, as apparently he was in a bit of a bind and had to yield it up to unknown assailants in the Brown’s Town area.

Interestingly, my source has now reported that the VDSL, which he called VDSL2, was now 70% complete in his hometown. He managed to get a screenshot of the Testing Laptop being used by the FLOW Jamaica Fiber Optic engineers, again while they were distracted while having lunch and got this image from their laptop!

How FLOW's VDSL in St. Ann means FTTH, 4G LTE on North, South Coast 23

Based on this graph, Brown’s Town should be getting speeds as high as 70 Mbps, once the CPE (Customer Premesis Equiptment) installed at the customer’s home is within 200 m of the VSLAM, the amplifier that pushes signal to homes nearby. But what’s got me fascinated here is that the use of a VDSL, which can push speeds of 1 GBps to customers, is also forward compatible with Fiber Optic.

Liberty Global, now the owners of FLOW Jamaica, may be planning to launch a FTTH (Fiber to the Home) Network close to Brown’s Town, St. Ann. This is very possible, given that Brown’s Town is only a stone throw away from Ocho Rios, a tourist resort town. Hotels and resorts jam packed with tourists would be the target users of faster Fiber Optic Broadband Internet as well as 4G LTE, potentially giving FLOW Jamaica almost 70,000 customer on launch!

Another source of mine, who is no stranger to the Geezam blog, pointed out to me that FLOW Jamaica is already deploying 4G LTE along the tourist resort areas in Trelawny, St. James and Hanover. He claims that the 2G/3G/HSPA+ upgrades are being executed by Huawei.

How FLOW's VDSL in St. Ann means FTTH, 4G LTE on North, South Coast 23

He also pointed out to me that work is being done by Ericsson on the South Coast, which means FLOW Jamaica is showing my community Milk River some 4G LTE Love!! Suddenly, Digicel Play’s growing FTTH Network doesn’t look so menacing after all as I’d predicted in Digicel Play NBCUniversal deal and Fibre Doctor means FLOW has no Advantage.

If FLOW Jamaica pulls this off on the North and South Coast, they’d have surpassed Digicel Play’s 20,000 total overnight, launching 4G LTE in the process. So folks, sit tight as if my sources are on the money, expect a FLOW Jamaica FTTH and 4G LTE Launch sometime in August 2016, just in time for the Rio Olympics 2016.

Flow Jamaica is proof that the brave may Fall but Never Yield.

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Lindsworth is a Radio Frequency and Generator Maintenance Technician who has a knack for writing about his work, which is in the Telecoms Engineering Field. An inspired writer on themes as diverse as Autonomous Ants simulations, Power from Lightning and the current Tablet Wars.