LIME, Digicel and FLOW – Leading the Global 4G Adoption Curve

I am sure many readers have many a complaint about Telecoms Providers and Triple Play Providers as it relates to the price and cost of Broadband Internet access, be it Wired or Wireless. I know. But I think if you read on, you would wish to cut them some slack.

Right now, this bright and sunny Friday July 1st 2011AD, I am using a CLARO 3G Modem Dongle on a one (1) day Pass access. But thanks to a procedural flaw in how the Day Pass is interpreted by CLARO, I am still logged in on the same JA$300 credit I had put on since Sunday June 26th 2011AD – a trick that works once I keep my PC on indefinitely!

Apparently, CLARO assumes that “normal” people only browse and log off within the 24hour timeframe and do not stay logged on indefinitely. I have also gone beyond the three (3) Gigabyte cap limit many times, downloading many movies and even software, my only complaint being I could make it last longer if I had a UPS (Uninterruptible Power Supply)!

Thus the logic in the MSC (Mobile Switching Center) Huawei Switch Program Script file does not define the 24-hour period precisely or force the customer to log off, as is the case with Digicel 4G, which is based on WiMaX 4G Mobile (IEEE 802.16d, e). Hence this anomaly, which I hope, lasts when Digicel eventually takes over!

Since fellow blogger Horace is all hopped up about Digicel stealing Prepaid credit in his article Has your Digicel prepaid credit been vanishing lately? should I also complain to the CLARO, soon to be a part of Digicel, now on the last lap of negotiations with the OUR (Office of Utilities Regulation), FTC (Fair Trading Commission) and Minister of Information, Daryl Vaz, about this oversight as it relates to CLARO 3G’s Day Pass?

I come riding on my silver horse to defend the Telecom Industry as the News is not all bad, as they are ahead of the worldwide curve in their expansion of 4G Broadband. Although I must agree, based on my confession above, that the high price of Broadband is truly one of the main reasons cited in my article Jamaica’s Low Net Penetration – Broadband Internet A Universal Right for the low level of Internet adoption among Jamaicans!

I had pointed out in that article that making Broadband a Utility and enshrining it as a Fundamental Right would accelerate its adoption. But part of that problem, believe it or not, has to do with socialization.

Jamaicans on a whole are a pragmatic lot. Unless technology is “bling” and the “in thing”, reasonably priced and durable, they are not so cosmopolitan and early adopter-centric to buy a gadget or get Internet access for its sake alone, an argument crystallized in my article Android smartphones may be king in 2015AD, but RIM Blackberry quality shines. Usually, these become gifts for children. But if you think ONLY Jamaicans think this way, think again!

A research firm named Wireless Intelligence, indicates that the push towards LTE, widely regarded as 4G, may be tepidly accepted by most people worldwide in 2015AD, mainly due to:

  • Telecom Providers being slow to invest, fearing that they will be unable to recoup their investments while keeping up with the explosive growth in Data Traffic
  • People generally not seeing the Internet as something that they need, as opposed to being a luxury

The graphic below tells the tale of the pervasiveness of WCDMA (Wide Band Code Division Multiplexing Access) and the projection for LTE Adoption in 2015AD:

Wireless Intelligence report represents the fears of Telecoms Providers, which the following info bytes bear out globally:

  • 500 million connections during June WCDMA powered HSDPA (High Speed Downlink Packet Access) connections reached an installed base of 5 billion
  • WCDMA is the fastest growing wireless Broadband protocol worldwide
  • 47% of all Wireless Broadband connections is HSDPA
  • Total world connections surpassed 5.5 billion by the end of the Second Quarter
  • HSDPA has grown by one hundred and fifty seven million (157,000,000) new Broadband Additions.

Note: WCDMA is the modulation schema that powers HSDPA, which is the faster variant of 3G maxing out at 14.4MBps best effort when a mobile node B is fully provisioned with all T1’s. It’s slower cousin, UMTS uses the PSK (Phased Shift Keying) Modulation schema, which all 3G capable devices switch to on default when Terrestrial Noise and Equiptment Noise between UE (User Equipment) and on the RAN (Radio Access Network) becomes excessive.

For the European Union:

  • Deutsche Telekom, owner of the soon to be purchased T-Mobile, stated that 43% of mobile phone contracts in the EU were smartphones, compared to 21% in 2010.
  • France Telecom stated that 58% of mobile phone contracts inFranceandSpainwere smartphones, compared to 29% in 2010.
  • Vodafone stated that 50% of mobile phone shipments in the EU were smartphones

And now to theU.S.:

  • AT&T stated that 46% of mobile phone contracts are smartphones
  • Verizon stated that 32% of mobile phone contracts are smartphones
  • T-Mobile stated that 75% of mobile phone contracts [sales] are smartphones

But Strategy Analytics cut straight to the chase, pointing out in another analytical note that the fear of affording the cost of additional infrastructure upgrades to LTE is unfounded.

This as  their data “predicts that although the annual global investment required for mobile broadband network infrastructure will grow from $22 billion in 2011 to $48 billion in 2014, the capex [capital expenditure] available for mobile network investment will, in fact, be two to five times that level”, to quote Sue Rudd, Director of Service Provider Analysis.

Put another way, the above projection graph that was put forward in December 2010 in a report commissioned by four of Europe’s biggest operators – Deutsche Telekom, FranceTelecom, Telecom Italia and Telefonica – is false. This as Data Traffic estimates quoted on a yearly basis, often expressed in Petabytes or one thousand (1000) terabytes.

But when broken down on a daily basis, it appears that the when the maximum peak traffic that these European Telecoms Providers WCDMA Networks can handle is brought into play, the Telecom Providers have room to spare.

To quote Sue Rudd, Director of Service Provider Analysis: “Based on proven network operator methodology, estimates were made of the capacity that each application would require at the peak period of the day, i.e., when the network is most congested. Thirty percent additional ‘headroom’ was added to this estimate, allowing for unpredictable fluctuations. The resulting capacity estimates are between 70 and 80 percent lower than the total daily traffic passing through the network – a source of leverage too often omitted from the discussion.”

That is the EU, USA and the World all in one go, demonstrating that their fear of upgrading to 4G LTE is unfounded, as their traffic capacity estimates are not being exceeded and their revenues can still fund the CAPEX required to upgrade to 4G LTE.

In the Caribbean, this capacity problem has yet to beset the Telecom Providers, as Broadband penetration is not at a level to be a cause for concern among Telecom Providers in terms of capacity due to the reasons stated in my article Jamaica’s Low Net Penetration – Broadband Internet A Universal Right.

Rather, as I had pointed out, it is a case of Jamaicans and Caribbean nationals on a whole not seeing the point of Broadband Internet, trotting out Pricing, Lack of Interest and Access to Broadband Internet as excuses to not invest in a computer and get Internet access.

This if the Dr. Hopeton Dunn-led Survey, involving two thousand two hundred (2200) participant households and conducted by the Mona School of Business (MSB) at the University of the West Indies (UWI) can be believed.

So much is this borne out in reality, that the current US$80 million Caribbean-wide expansion of the HSDPA+ (High Speed Downlink Packet Access) Release 7 Network by LIME announced on Tuesday May 17th 2011AD, World Telecommunications and Information Society Day is really geared towards US and EU tourists packing smartphones and Tablets. Effectively, this is 4G, coming to the Caribbean in the next eighteen (18) months, with a projected completion date of December 2012AD, is just in time for the Winter Tourist Season!

Ditto too, Digicel equipotent accelerated push for HSDPA+ Release 7 and WiMaX 4G Mobile(IEEE 802.16d, e) upgrades in BOTH in Jamaica and in the Caribbean, announced Wednesday May 25th, 2011AD after initially complaining in every Caribbean newspaper about LIME claiming to be the first with 4G being a false statement.

Even the push by “Watch.Talk.Click” Broadband Provider FLOW to expand it Triple Pay Offerings islandwide, which should have been completed in 2011AD has been pushed up to the year 2015AD, based on a Mark Titus, Business Gleaner Writer interview with FLOW President and CEO (Chief Executive Officer) Michelle “Dallas” English (We call her “Dallas” as she is from Texas!).

This after ramping up speeds to begin offering 100Mbps on the announcement of CLARO going LTE (Long Term Evolution) after having boosted the Broadband speed offering to 20Mbps in on Wednesday October 6th 2010AD.

FLOW’s problems are due mainly to issues relating to equiptment theft and resistance by unlicensed cable operators to cede over their operations via negotiations and purchase! But logically too, due possibly to low customer demand for the service, forcing FLOW to be picky about where they provision their service, a trait also peculiar to the Wireless Telecoms Providers.

But there is to me solace to those of us who still rant about the high cost of Telecom Provider Voice services, as Minister of Information, Daryl Vaz, is coming to our rescue with Data Services.

The Government of Jamaica has now officially broken ground for the Government of Jamaica UAFL (Universal Access Fund Levy) funded Islandwide Fiber Optic Broadband Project jointly being built out by LIME and FLOW. With speeds of 100Mbps, albeit it is not clear if the Internet access it will provide free to the three hundred (300) high schools involved will extend to those living in the area free of cost.

Announced earlier in April 7th 2011AD, it somewhat inspired my article on Tele-Commuting and Flexi-Work entitled Jamaica’s 100MBps Internet Silver Lining – Tele-commuting Workplace is coming, which, believe it or not, is to become a reality as the Internet Broadband Infrastructure being rolled out islandwide expands.

St. Thomas based Dekal Wireless, too, has plans in the pipeline to expand is Municipal Wi-Fi Network as prognosticated in my article Dekal Wireless: Broadband for the Masses in an islandwide push, albeit quietly.

All coming before 2015AD, five (5) years from now!

So despite the complaints that one may have about Caribbean Telecom Provider’s Voice Network, their current action as it relates to their build out of their Data Networks deserves applause. As with these options as it can only mean more options and lower prices by 2015AD for Internet access, which, hopefully by then, should be a Universal Right which Jamaicans will desire for its own sake.

We, as Caribbean people are ahead of the World curve in terms of 4G Technology adoption, albeit ironically not due to overwhelming local demand. Soon, however, the excuse of Pricing and Access to Broadband Internet will no longer be valid.

This as the Tourists and foreigners bring the smartphone and Tablet craze to our sun-kissed shores will fuel our desire to be likewise advanced and connected and spur a local adoption of Laptops, smartphones, Tablets and other UE (User Equiptment) to access the Internet as predicted in my article Apple’s Revolution: Android @ Home and IceCream Sandwich in 2015AD., Keeping Up with the Kardashians (TV Series 2007– ) style.

It is now for the people of Jamaica and the wider Caribbean need to see the opportunity that Broadband Internet places before us and show Interest, as it is a river we must cross by 2015AD.

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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.