My Thoughts on Technology and Jamaica: Digicel EDGE Modem - Report on the testrun for Digicel Broadband

Friday, June 11, 2010

Digicel EDGE Modem - Report on the testrun for Digicel Broadband

I was having problems with my Digicel EDGE USB Stick DC87-0 Modem recently, but after carefully analyzing the problems I have come to a basic conclusion: The Digicel EDGE USB Stick DC87-0 Modem software does not work properly under Service Pack 3. Service Packs are security updates for the Windows operating system from Microsoft.

These service packs can be downloaded manually or automatically by the computer making your computer more secure. However, it may cause problems with certain programs running, as I have discovered is the case with Digicel EDGE USB Stick DC87-0 Modem software. The Modem software is located in a folder named “Digicel” inside of the Program Files folder.

This software communicates with the USB Modem connected with the USB port, In essence, it is basically a software Modem that uses your computer’s memory to process the EDGE (Enhanced Data Rates for GSM Evolution) transmission communicated to it via the USB Modem and convert this to information that can be displayed on a browser to provide Internet access.    

What I noticed was that the Digicel EDGE USB Stick DC87-0 Modem and Modem software were able to communicate when the Modem is installed on a computer that has no service packs or only has up to Service Pack 2. This is because I had initially installed it under Windows XP Professional. However, I uninstalled the Windows XP Professional and installed Windows XP Home to take advantage of the Service Pack 3 that came with this OEM Microsoft certified copy, only to discover that the Modem does not work under Service Pack 3.

I subsequently tested it on other machines elsewhere and discovered the same pattern: Digicel EDGE USB Stick DC87-0 Modem and Modem software works under machines without Service Pack 3 but does not work on machines with Service Pack 3.

I also discovered that it does not install if an antivirus program specifically AVG Antivirus Software is installed on the machine, as the AVG Antivirus Software interprets the auto installing of the Modem as being a threat to the computer and blocks it from auto installing. I had to disable the antivirus and in the case of AVG Antivirus Software, uninstall it altogether.    

The workaround I have discovered is as follows:
1.      Disable or remove the AVG Antivirus Software and then plug in the Digicel EDGE USB Stick DC87-0 Modem
2.      Once it has self installed, go to Program Files and then the Digicel folder and double click the program titled USBDriverInstaller_x86.exe
3.      Click on the icon for the Digicel EDGE USB Stick DC87-0 Modem. The Digicel EDGE USB Stick DC87-0 Modem will be ready to go onto the Internet

Thus, it would appear that the Digicel EDGE USB Stick DC87-0, albeit an EDGE Modem, is still in need of an upgrade, and it would be good for Telecom Provider Digicel to either offer a version of the Modem from the Equipment Vendor ZTE Corp of China that is compatible with Microsoft’s Service Pack 3 as well as higher versions of Windows, such as Windows 7.

Despite the company’s lackluster support for the device, its reliability is something I can attest to, as despite its speed, this Modem is my main means of accessing the Internet, as I mainly use the Internet for emails and messaging and not for watching YouTube or downloading, the forte of a much younger market demographic [read 14-18 years old and 19-30 years old], being as I gripe so often about the Internet and what it has become. 

Therein lies the crux of my argument, as it is obvious that the Digicel EDGE USB Stick DC87-0 Modem is not intended to be a final product, but merely an experimental product to gauge user acceptance of a Internet Modem, albeit the timing is a little off, as Telecom Provider Digicel had launched its EDGE service since 2004, thus waiting all the way till 2008 to start doing experiments to gauge user demand form the Internet is somewhat strange, but certainly the interest in product development is welcome nonetheless.

Thus far, checks with most stores in May Pen have turned up empty, as the Modem is sold out of stock, an indication, depending on whose numbers you have, of a healthy interest in Mobile Internet. Thus Telecom Provider Digicel would do well to offer Data Plans similar to Telecom Provider CLARO, with megabyte data caps as a means of enhancing the service

An added twist would be that once the Customer is within a certain percentage of their allotted megabyte caps, Telecom Provider Digicel would send them a SMS (Short Messaging Service) “text message” informing the Customer that they are close to their allotted megabyte cap and need to conserve of their Internet usage or face overage charges.

This is now the case on AT&T’s 3G Mobile Network as stated in the article alluded by the FCC (Federal Communications Commission) in the article FCC says consumers are 'bill shocked'”, published May 26, 2010 9:41 AM PDT by Marguerite Reardon CNET News - Signal Strength, (http://www.cnet.com).

Telecom Provider AT&T has responded with what in the Telecoms World and the IT World on Wednesday 2nd 2010 was considered a major shift for a Telecoms Provider: capped, cheaper Data Plans.  AT&T’s DataPlus Data Plan which has a 200MB cap and charges US$15 per thirty (30) day billing cycle with an overage charge of US$10 per additional 200 MB.

For the Data hogs, there is the aptly named DataPro Data Plan which has a 2GB cap and charges US$25 per thirty (30) day billing cycle with an overage charge of US$15 per additional  1GB as stated in the article “For New AT&T users, no more "all you can eat" data”, published June 2 2010 By PETER SVENSSON, AP Technology Writer, Yahoo News.

Articles entitled “AT&T phases out unlimited data plans”, published Wed Jun 2, 12:07 pm ET, by Ben Patterson, Yahoo News and “AT&T to end unlimited use of mobile data plan”, published Thursday June 2 2010, by Ryan Kim, Chronicle Staff Writer lend further credence to this major shift!

AT&T's new pricing takes smart phones to the masses”, published June 3, 2010 4:00 AM PDT by Marguerite Reardon, CNET News - Signal Strength, (http://www.cnet.com)  and the article “New AT&T data plans for iPhones, iPad, more”,  June 2, 2010 2:39 AM PDT by Matt Hickey CNET News – Crave from my favorite news aggregator, CNET rounds off the news overload. Videos advising of the same CNET Loaded Morning Edition aired Wednesday 2nd 2010 by Mark Licea, CNET News.

A dissection of the merits and demerits of AT&T’s new Data Plans as stated in the video CNET Buzz Report, aired Thursday May 3rd 2010 by Molly Wood, Executive Editor, CNET News with tips on how to check your Apple iPhone Data Usage as shown on the video CNET How To - Check your  Data Usage on your iPhone aired Thursday May 3rd 2010 by Ralf Needleman, Editor-at-Large, CNET News.

All of the above being changes that local Telecom Providers in Jamaica, specifically the Big Three (3) Telecom Provider Digicel, Telecom Provider LIME and Telecom Provider CLARO have implemented.

This is with the exception of advising Customers of their Data Usage, a rather disingenuous situation which deserves of complaint. Telecom Provider LIME has also made strides in terms of Customer Care with it MyLIME Customer Portal as stated in the article “LIME launches MYLIME Customer Portal” published Monday, 08 March 2010 by TechJamaica.

Their 100 Service Customer Care still needs a more human touch (or maybe a better salaries for the grumpy Customer Care Agents?) and although they have made topping up more convenient with the introduction of Debit and Credit Card Self Top Up as written in the article “Text to top Up - A Caribbean first from LIME”, published Wednesday, 03 March 2010 by TechJamaica.

It is not the first in the Caribbean, as Telecom Provider Digicel had long ago introduced a Swipe and Go Prepaid Card system, eliminating the need for having a debit card altogether by mimicking a service, which ironically already exists in C&W Plc “home world” – The United Kingdom, something Telecom Provider CLARO could seek to emulate.

Additionally, practicing on their Customer Care skills as it relates to the Digicel EDGE USB Stick DC87-0 Modem will enable them to better handle Internet Related issues, as their is strong evidence that the competing Telecoms Providers are in the process of hiring more Customer Care Agents to deal with the coming flood of complaints and problems with their new Netbooks, data cards and modems.

Telecom Provider Digicel can also build on the usage of the Digicel EDGE USB Stick DC87-0 Modem by using it as a messaging platform or VoIP Platform on their network, marketing the modem as a means of having phone calling at rates comparable to a landline over their computer, complete with a package inclusive of a headset jack and the modem being preloaded with software for VoIP and Messaging via the various IRC based messaging services.

Thus Telecom Provider Digicel should take the opportunity to use the Digicel EDGE USB Stick DC87-0 Modem to experiment and test out these options on a lower speed device.

It may thus be a model of how it will launch its Digicel Broadband Platform via its offering of WiMax 4G Mobile (IEEE 802.16m), slated to be covering 60% of the island on launch and using a model based on the sale of Netbooks, Modems and PCMCIA Data Cards as alluded to in the article “Digicel to offer mini laptops with 4G service next year”, published Friday September 4th 2009 by Lavern Clarke, The Daily Gleaner.

ZTE Corp of China, ironically, is their partner-in-crime in this their latest venture into High Speed Internet as stated in the article “Digicel signs ZTE as 4G mobile WiMax Internet partner”, published Sunday, September 27, 2009, The Jamaica Observer.
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