My Thoughts on Technology and Jamaica: Digicel and Wimax - Great Expectations Part 1

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Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Digicel and Wimax - Great Expectations Part 1


Folks, it is official. Telecom Provider Digicel is launching their new WiMaX 4G Mobile (IEEE 802.16d) Broadband Network in August 2010 AD………..just in time for my birthday, which is on Sunday August 1st 2010, incidentally a month with a Friday the 13th in it, an ominous warning for all who are superstitious about such things.

This information was reported to me by reliable a Telecom Provider Digicel Contact of mine who recently applied for a job posted on Telecom Provider Digicel’s website, in which they are looking for Regional Broadband Technicians, essentially persons to drive around and install WiMaX 4G Fixed (IEEE 802.16a) on request at Customers premises

This is in much the same way that Telecom Provider LIME Technicians from RIM (Remote Installation and Maintenance) and Telecom Provider LIME Contractors and Telecom Provider Digicel Contractors drive around and install Fixed Mobile units, HomeFone Xpress in the case of Telecom Provider LIME.

This rumor and previous reports of its ilk of Telecom Provider Digicel’s intention to launch a WiMaX 4G Mobile (IEEE 802.16d) Broadband Network have now been confirmed in the articleDigicel quietly testing 4G for August launch, published Sunday June 27th 2010 by Mark Titus, Gleaner Reporter, The Jamaica Gleaner.

The article states that Telecom Provider Digicel is beginning the launch of their Telecom Provider Digicel WiMaX 4G Mobile (IEEE 802.16d) Broadband Network, nearly two (2) months behind schedule with an August Deadline for launch, most likely to be done at Denbigh, Clarendon.

Although there is no mention in the article of DigiTV in the article, my usually reliable Telecom Provider Digicel Contact stated that DigiTV as stated in the article 'DigiTV launch for 2009' - Mobile Provider branches into TV, published Friday November 14th 2009 by Ross Sheil, Online Co-ordinator, The Jamaica Observer will possibly be launched as a Web TV based service using Digicel WiMaX 4G Mobile (IEEE 802.16d) Broadband Network.

Meanwhile the Big Three (3) Broadcasters RJR Communication Group, CVM Communication Group and LOVE TV/Radio would achieve DSO (Digital Switch Over) by piggy-backing their HDTV from their all Digital Studios, both Radio and Television on the new Digicel WiMaX 4G Mobile (IEEE 802.16d) Broadband Network, to be decoded by the WiMaX modem at the Customers premises.

Thereby allowing the Broadcasters to also have Internet intermeshed with the Big Three (3) Broadcasters content, be it Radio or Television as the benefits being described in my blog articles entitled “Road to Damascus experience to make Broadcasters se DSO Benefits ,and descriptions of how it could be achieved in follow-up article:

  1. Web TV and 3-D TV - Towards a more interactive immersive television experience
  2. 3-D anti-piracy Technology to thwart Digital Video Piracy
  3. Google TV and DSO: An example of how a set top box can help TVJ and CVM Achieve DSO”. 

In consort with Telecom Providers under MNP (Mobile Number Portability), result in a final solution to Digital Video and Music Piracy as stated in  my blog article entitled “Piracy Solution via MNP, DSO and Legislation”.


CEO David Linehan was quoted as saying “Digicel Broadband will on Day One cover 60 per cent of the population in all 14 parishes” as stated in the article “Digicel to offer mini laptops with 4G service next year”, published Friday September 4th 2009 by Lavern Clarke, The Jamaica Gleaner.

With 60% coverage inclusive of all fourteen (14) parishes with their brand new Digicel WiMaX 4G Mobile (IEEE 802.16d) Broadband Network from Day One as promised by Digicel CEO David Linehan slated to launch at the end of the Second Quarter of 2010

This is an original deadline that is only one (1) week away as stated in the article “Digicel to offer mini laptops with 4G service next year”, published Friday September 4th 2009 by Lavern Clarke, The Jamaica Gleaner.

ZTE Corp of China was their build out partner of their new WiMaX 4G Mobile (IEEE 802.16d) Broadband Network as stated in the article “Digicel signs ZTE as 4G Mobile WiMaX Internet partner”, published Sunday, September 27, 2009, The Jamaica Observer.

Expectation among Customer is running high as to what bells and whistles the new Network will be sporting that will give it an advantage over Telecom Provider LIME 3G and Telecom Provider CLARO 3G.

A staff of one thousand (1000) persons from within and affiliated with Telecom Provider Digicel have been pre-selected to test the new WiMaX 4G Mobile (IEEE 802.16d) Broadband Network’s capabilities and it appears that they have something major planned for the launch that may involve Digicel Rising Stars and the Denbigh Agricultural Show in Denbigh, Clarendon.

Telecom Provider Digicel, the Telecoms Provider that claims to be the “Bigger, Better, Network” has let loose a media frenzy with regards to recent changes with regards to the sudden departure of its all star on set cast.

Namely the host Yendi Phillips and the chill room host Kerie-Ann Lewis-Thombs, otherwise known as “Kiki” as stated in the article “Rising Star host search tomorrow - Kiki address rumors”, published Monday March 29th 2010, The Monday Star.

These changes aside, there is a slew of other changes mentioned in the article, which seem to be geared towards making the show more interactive, meaningful and memorable, both as it relates to viewers making important choices in terms of who is the next host (Ms. Kitty, the “fluffy” diva is the chill room host…………albeit Tami Chynn, the Certified Diva would be a better fit).

It would also put to rest doubts to some extent the perception that the show is somehow rigged, a common comment by suspicious members of John Public, as this year the shows longer format would mean that the performers can make ample use of their onstage performance to not only increase their chances of winning but also make a lasting impression on John Public.

Interactivity has been improved with Digicel Rising Stars having its own Facebook page, which coincides with Telecom Provider Digicel’s foray into gauging its target market via Facebook and Twitter as stated in the article “Digicel gains 100,000 Facebook fans in under 100 days”, published Wednesday, 17 March 2010 by TechJamaica.com.

Telecom Provider Digicel, which according to the rather winded commentary by Group CEO Colm Delves in the article “Digicel looks beyond to expand its 32 markets”, published Friday June 25th 2010 by Al Edwards, The Jamaica Observer, is also planning to launch the “ChinaBerry”.

Despite its name, is not a BlackBerry knock-off, but a company that has a product that is similar to the BlackBerry but at a cheaper price

Thus it would allow more Customers to be able to purchase a Mobile device that not only has the advantage of being significantly cheaper but also  has all the bells and whistles of the RIM BlackBerry (email and Messenger).

Thus for the first time forming a strategic alliance with a Chinese Handset Maker to support their WiMaX 4G Mobile (IEEE 802.16d) Broadband Network, as the “ChinaBerry” is a codename for smartphones from Telecom Equiptment Vendor HTC.

Maker of such  handsets as the HTC Evo 4G on Telecom Provider Sprint 4G Wireless Broadband Network, the first 4G phone in the United States of America.

Despite Executive Editor Molly Wood poking fun at Apple iPhone’s FaceTime rendering of the facial proportions of the callers, as listed in the article “Top 4 iPhone 4 Alternatives”, published June 8, 2010 6:52 pm, by J.R. Raphael, PC World as well as in my blog article entitled “Apple iPhone 4.0 and Video Calling - FaceTime sets the standard

Add the fact that the “ChinaBerry” as intoned by Digicel’s Group CEO Colm Delves supports Video Calling, akin to the Apple iPhone 4.0, which thus far Telecom Provider CLARO has failed to announce that it is supporting even the Apple iPhone 3GS.

Thus making the “ChinaBerry” and other Mobile smart phones in the same category to John Public potential Apple iPhone killers, especially in light of the fact that the number of Mobile smart phones that support WiMaX 4G Mobile (IEEE 802.16d) is growing and the popularity of the BlackBerry, which would be the perfect springboard for the “ChinaBerry”.

Early signs of nervousness on the part of Telecom Provider CLARO can be seen from their latest promotion entitled “6 Months Free BlackBerry Service”, published Friday June 25th 2010 The Jamaica Observer

oddly has dropped the prices on their 2G Blackberry to heavily subsidized prices on a two (2) year PostPaid Contract, thus making the highest priced BlackBerry work to be at least JA$48,000 after two (2) years of payments of JA$2000 for the BlackBerry Bold 9700, the title “smart” not being applicable as far as John Public aware to any BlackBerry despites its adoption of an optical track pad.

It is hoped too, that with the new WiMaX 4G Mobile (IEEE 802.16d) Broadband Network that Telecom Provider Digicel will introduce Contract Plans to make it easy for Customers to afford the Fixed modems, Mobile modems dongles.

Similar to that of the 3G modems from Huawei, Nokia and Sony Ericsson as sold by Telecom Provider CLARO 3G and Telecom Provider LIME 3G as well as Netbooks with WiMaX 4G Mobile (IEEE 802.16d) built in.

A SMS (Simple Messaging Service) system that alerts Customers when they are going to exceed their monthly allotted Voice Plan (Local, Cross-Network, International), SMS Plan (Local, Cross-Network, International) or Data Plan Caps.

This is assuming they are going the route of Capped or Metered Data Plans as in the case of Telecom Provider CLARO, Telecom Provider LIME or Telecom Provider AT&T as per my blog article entitled “AT&T and Capped Data Plans - Skype is no longer Free”.

A sliding ETF (Early Termination Fee) that decreases on a daily basis toward the end of the life of your two (2) year contract as per recommendation of Brian Cooley, Executive Editor from CNET News as stated in his video CNET Buzz Report, aired Thursday May 13 2010, by Brian Cooley, CNET News.

This is explained in my blog article entitled “CLARO and ETF - Pro-Rated Dutch Auction preferred”,  and would be a nice touch, with flexible pricing starting at US$100 on a two (2) year Contract for a netbook being in the works.

This launch of WiMaX 4G Mobile (IEEE 802.16d) Broadband Network is tinged with a bit of mystery, however, as it seems that the need to employ contractors to install what would appear to be Fixed Mobile Modems at Customer premises is odd as normally a Telecom Provider launching Wireless Broadband Modems would just simply sell the Modems from their Retail Stores.

The fact that Contractors have to be employed to even visit Customer premises would indicate that the modems are in fact WiMaX 4G Fixed (IEEE 802.16a) modems from Avarion, who had built out Telecom Provider Digicel original foray into WiMaX 4G Fixed (IEEE 802.16a) in 2007.

With Telecom Provider Digicel rolling out a new Television advertising campaign, emphasizing why people have been with Telecom Provider Digicel for the past nine (9) years, it is apparent that something is now on the horizon

Telecom Provider Digicel launched the much touted WiMaX 4G Fixed (IEEE 802.16a) which the then CEO of Digicel David Hall had promised as far back as 2007 saying “We will bring something to the consumer that they won't have seen before.

It is very important to make our offering affordable to Jamaicans, so they can have access to Internet, just like with Mobile phones” as stated in the article “Digicel seeks Laptop makers in France, China....Telecom plans to subsidize computers to capture large share of Internet Market”, published Sunday February 11, 2007, Camilo Thame, Business Reporter, The Jamaica Gleaner, which came on the heels of a US$100 million investment by then Digicel Chairman now owner Denis O'Brien in 2006.

Telecom Provider Digicel went on in 2007 to launch WiMaX 4G Fixed (IEEE 802.16a) despite the fact that Internet Penetration was below 73% and despite Jamaicans lacking access to any form of telephone service being at only 6%, with 94.4% of households in Jamaica have access to telephone, Mobile phones accounting for 64%, with Cable and Wireless remained the dominant provider of fixed line connections, dominating the market with 98.6%.

Telecom Provider Digicel ruled the Mobile market after only five (5) years in Jamaica with 87%, according to an Office of Utilities Regulation (OUR) commissioned survey conducted by PSEARCH Associates Limited in 2006 as summarized and annotated quite neatly in the article “Most J'cans still not online”, published Saturday,  September 2nd 2006, The Jamaica Gleaner.

Digicel even went on later in 2007 to launch CDMA just to get Customers away from MiPhone, as most roaming Customers from the United States of America used a CDMA as stated in the article “Digicel now offering CDMA Technology - To compete with MiPhone in roaming market”, published Wednesday, 14 March 2007, The Jamaica Gleaner.

But the much expected WiMaX 4G Fixed turned out to be only an overpriced Alvarion version that was out of the reach of ordinary Customers and Telecom Provider Digicel later launched in Cayman Islands as means of testing out the acceptance of WiMaX before planning to launch in Jamaica, much as they tested out DigiTV in Vanatu, Tonga and Samoa islands in the far Pacific before making the decision to launch in Jamaica.

Its success, however, must be weighed against the fact that people in the Cayman Islands are people relatively well off, and with little competition for Wireless Broadband, “success” was just being first in a market that had no other competitors, and hence was not a real gauge of what to expect in a market with real competition.

Even their “success” in Tonga with DigiTV was also the same tale: no competition, underserved markets, hence the apparent “success” as stated in the articleDigicel quietly testing 4G for August launch, published Sunday June 27th 2010 by Mark Titus, Gleaner Reporter, The Jamaica Gleaner, indicative the coming launch of WiMaX 4G Mobile (IEEE 802.16d) Broadband Network.

Some say that Telecom Provider Digicel had no actual data strategy, depending solely on the United States of America market to act as a guide as to what to do next.

Others stated that they had no faith in their prior statements the statistics numbers spoke of a lackluster interest in Internet, despite the comments of Senator Phillip Paulwell, Minister of Telecommunications of the PNP (Peoples National Power) as stated in the article “Digicel now offering CDMA Technology - To compete with MiPhone in roaming market”,  published Wednesday, 14 March 2007, The Jamaica Gleaner and as opined in my blog article entitled “Digicel and the up and coming WiMaX launch - Blowing in the Wind”.

However, it would not be before 2008 that the development of the netbook, a slimmed down version of the laptop that Internet usage would explode in the United States of America that Internet access would begin to show incredible growth, especially on AT&T Network with the introduction of the Apple iPhone in 2007 that the trending for Mobile Internet in the United States of America, which began with Blackberrys, would become statistically significant.

Thus, Telecom Provider Digicel would have to launch their Digicel WiMaX 4G Mobile (IEEE 802.16d) Broadband Network in a manner that not only is loud and expensive in keeping with their usual style.

Telecom Provider Digicel offerings must be competitively priced products with innovative offerings, Customer Service to explain every nuance of the working of these WiMaX 4G Fixed (IEEE 802.16a) Modems, WiMaX 4G Mobile (IEEE 802.16d) Modems dongles and WiMaX 4G Mobile (IEEE 802.16d) enabled netbooks.

With the possibility of DigiTV in the wings as stated in the article “'DigiTV launch for 2009' - Mobile Provider branches into TV, published Friday November 14th 2009 by Ross Sheil, Online Co-ordinator, The Jamaica Observer.

Then there is the Big Three (3) Broadcasters RJR Communications Group, CVM Communications Group and LOVE TV/Radio going DSO as per recommendations by the Broadcasting Commission in article “Slow road to digital switch-over - Cable groups mum; Flow ahead but Network coverage behind”, published: Saturday  August 15, 2009 by Mark Titus, Gleaner Writer, The Jamaica Gleaner.

Telecom Provider Digicel, if they do their marketing and launch of their US$22.7 million dollar baby, they can defeat Telecom Provider CLARO and Telecom Provider LIME in the Data Wars………..fodder for another article.

But the true secret sauce, which Telecom Provider Digicel should have learned from its dress rehearsal with the Digicel EDGE USB Stick DC87-0 Modem as elucidated in my blog article “Digicel EDGE Modem - Report on the Testrun for Digicel Broadband

Telecom Provider Digicel’s  FaceBook and Twitter and their nearly one hundred thousand (100,000) fans on either site as stated in the article “Digicel gains 100,000 Facebook fans in under 100 days”, published Wednesday, 17 March 2010 by TechJamaica.com is that interactivity and customizability

This is the basic guideline to making money from the Data Market and eventually beating Telecom Provider CLARO is necessary in going after the very lucrative youth (age 12-18 and 19-28) Market, as adults (29-90) who are Recession wary, are not inclined to spend.

Telecom Provider Digicel needs to quickly build up a following among the youth for their new products, if integrated into their Digicel WiMaX 4G Mobile (IEEE 802.16d) Broadband Network would endear them to their many fans – and their Great Expectations.

Stay tuned……………..
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