My Thoughts on Technology and Jamaica: LIME's US$80 million Caribbean HSDPA+ Release 7 Upgrade - Sonic the Hedgehog

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

LIME's US$80 million Caribbean HSDPA+ Release 7 Upgrade - Sonic the Hedgehog

But you can plant a standard
Where a standard never flew

Nathalia Crane, the Colors

Looks like today Tuesday May 17th 2011AD, World Telecommunications and Information Society Day is being celebrated in style by Telecom Provider Digicel and Telecom Provider LIME. So happy belated World Telecommunications and Information Society Day

Both Jamaican Telecom Providers unveiled new Services today as I awake, tired from my interview at CMI (Caribbean Maritime Institute) near the buccaneer city of Port Royal for a IT Engineer position (fingers crossed!!!) to crank out yet another article on my Fedora-lovin’ PC.

Telecom Provider Digicel gift on this ITU (International Telecommunications Union), the Telecoms arm of the UN (United Nations) sanctioned day was the announcement of a Blackberry Developers Competition jointly with the blessing of the Government of Jamaica, specifically the Ministry of Education and the DIT (Department of Information and Telecommunication) as stated in the article “J’can student could design new BB app”, published Tuesday, May 17, 2011, The Jamaica Observer.

Telecom Provider Digicel is the exclusive Telecom Partner in this competition. Ironically, this had been reported on the Geezam Blog since Friday April 29th, 2011AD in fellow Geezam Blogger Roger’s article entitled “Jamaican Government Launches BlackBerry Developers Competition”.

Best to visit the Blackberry Developers Competition website to register and sign up for the competition! That is, if you want to get a chance to win a trip to Blackberry DevCon 2011, RIM’s Annual Developer Conference that runs from Tuesday October 18th 2011AD to Thursday October 20th 2011AD. Say “hi” to RIM CEO Mike Lazardis for me when you win!

The following dates are cursory on your calendar, IF you are genuinely interested:

  1. Competition began Wednesday May 4th, 2011AD
  2. Competition ends Wednesday July 31st, 2011AD
  3. Judging commences Monday August 8th, 2011AD
  4. Winners announced on Friday August 19th, 2011AD

But this time, Telecom Provider LIME gift that is the show stealer! They have now officially announced that they are planning to build out their 4G in the Caribbean Islands, specifically a HSDPA+ Release 7 (High Speed Downlink Packet Access Plus) Network in partnership with Telecom Equipment Supplier Ericsson.

The US$80 million (JA$6.776 billion) upgrade was announced by LIME CEO David Shaw at the Ritz Carlton Hotel in Grand Cayman in the usual amorous glamorous launches that typify these announcements, Dancing girls and all.

Coincidentally, Telecom Provider Digicel is also upgrading their 2G Network to 3G in Haiti, Barbados and the ABC (Aruba, Bonaire and Curacao) islands, with eventually plans to expand to the other markets!! Could this announcement by Telecom Provider LIME have been done to pre-empt Telecom Provider Digicel?

Speculation aside, Telecom Provider LIME becomes the first Telecom Provider in the Caribbean to achieve this milestone as stated in the article “LIME to create history – first to bring 4G mobile technology to the Caribbean”, published Tuesday, May 17th, 2011 at 6:30 pm, Dominica News Online!

The words of LIME CEO David Shaw, said, quote: “Our business has operated in the Caribbean for the past 140 years. We introduced the first telephone connections, the first Internet connections, the first mobile Service and the first mobile TV Service. Now we’re spearheading the 4G revolution, enabling our Customers to work, play and stay in constant contact while on the go.”

The upgrade is slated to occur across all Caribbean islands over the next eighteen (18) months and can eventually lead to a future upgrade to LTE (Long Term Evolution).

Apparently, American tourists are the target of these mostly tourism dependent islands, as they pack suitcases carrying their International travel Quad-band GSM (Global System Mobile) Telecom Provider AT&T and Telecom Provider T-Mobile smartphones.

Change SIM Cards and you are good to Skype back home to family and friend using this trusty VoiP app on their smartphones!!!

Smartphones such as the Apple iPhone 4G, Motorola Atrix and the Motorola Droid Bionic, are 3G and LTE compatible. Good to note that if you have a 3G phone, the built in 3G radio is running 3G HSDPA Release 5 and thus can be one of the following Speeds:

  1. HSDPA Release 5 16-QAM 1.2MBps
  2. HSDPA Release 5 16-QAM 1.2MBps (Telecom Provider CLARO)
  3. HSDPA Release 5 16-QAM 1.8MBps
  4. HSDPA Release 5 16-QAM 1.8MBps
  5. HSDPA Release 5 16-QAM 3.6MBps (Telecom Provider LIME)
  6. HSDPA Release 5 16-QAM 3.6MBps
  7. HSDPA Release 5 16-QAM 7.2MBps
  8. HSDPA Release 5 16-QAM 7.2MBps (Telecom Provider AT&T and T-Mobile)
  9. HSDPA Release 5 16-QAM 10.1MBps
  10. HSDPA Release 5 16-QAM 14.4MBps

HSDPA+ Release 7 is merely a software upgrade, with some hardware circuit packs or cards being changed in the BBU (Base Band Unit) located in their own cabinets or inside of the BTS (Base Transceiver Station) on the ground that allows higher 64 QAM (Quadrature Amplitude Modulation) Levels.

Thus more bytes of Data are crammed into the same transmission Schema and achieving maximum Speeds in the 42.2MBps range, best effort! However, the Speeds on offer by HSDPA+ Release 7, like HSDPA Release 5, can be tiered as follows:

  1. HSDPA+ Release 7 QPSK 1.8MBps
  2. HSDPA+ Release 7 64-QAM 17.6MBps
  3. HSDPA+ Release 7 64-QAM 21.1MBps
  4. HSDPA+ Release 7 16-QAM 23.4MBps
  5. HSDPA+ Release 7 16-QAM 28.0MBps
  6. HSDPA+ Release 7 64-QAM 35.3MBps
  7. HSDPA+ Release 7 64-QAM 42.2MBps

Note dear reader: QPSK (Quadrature Phase Shift Keying) is a slower Modulation Schema usually associated with UMTS (Universal Mobile Telecommunications System), a forerunner of 3G.

3G is a Protocol standard defined by the 3GPP (3rd Generation Partnership Project) and is accepted by the Telecom Providers who own and operate GSM (Global Systems Mobile) Networks.

Ditto for LTE, with maximum theoretical Speeds of 100MBps, best effort, with its as-yet fully defined cousin, LTE Advanced, capable of 1GBps Speeds, best effort.

Telecom Provider MetroPCS and Telecom Provider Verizon with its VoLTE (Voice Over LTE) capable LTE Network, were the first to go LTE since February 2011AD as stated in my blog article entitled “Verizon's LTE Network and VoLTE - The Dead Zone meets The Machine Stops”.

“Best effort”, mind you, is when the maximum numbers of T1 are provisioned and is usually a Speed associated with the Telecom Equipment Suppliers gear under Lab Testing Conditions are STP in a low humidity Anechoic Test Chamber.

These conditions are rarely achieved in the wild, mainly due to:

  1. The vagaries of congestion and traffic
  2. Mistakes in assigning T1 capacity to individual cell sites
  3. Fluctuations in the RSL between mobile Tower and UE (User Equipment) and Microwave Radios in the RBS (Radio Base Station) in the RAN (Radio Access Network)

Thus these Data Speeds are only promised on paper, hence the term “best effort”.

Finally, before I forget, the Data Networks (3G, 4G) as described above are separate from the Voice Networks (CDMA or GSM) of the above Networks, as they have to be built out separately with separate BTS and Copper or fiber Optic Waveguides and Agisson and Andrews Antennas.

Jamaica is out of this HSDPA+ Release 7 upgrade, as Telecom Provider LIME is already committed to a 3G upgrade in partnership with Telecom Equipment Supplier Ericsson, which is yet to be completed. Once completed, hopefully in time for London Olympics 2012 come July 27th 2012AD, Telecom Provider LIME may make further announcements as to a timeline for a 4G upgrade for Jamaica!

This as the 3G Service is not yet live in every parish in Jamaica due to the same economic constraints as affecting even Triple Play Provider FLOW as stated in my blog article entitled “FLOW, IPTV and the coming of Net2Vu - Johnny Mnemonic”.

Alas, Telecom Provider LIME is in it for profit; can’t provision T1 and Spectrum Licenses for a Mobile Tower with a Node B if surveys of the area indicate that Customers are unable to pay for their Services in the long term. Especially as, on average, the break-even time for any Telecom Provider is between eight (8) to ten (10) years!

This news became known on Dominica News Online Tuesday, May 17th, 2011 at 6:30pm. It is now News in Jamaica on The Jamaica Observer as stated in the article “LIME brings 4G mobile technology to the Caribbean”, published Wednesday, May 18, 2011, The Jamaica Observer.

This announcement, in my mind, tops their previously announced partnership with Triple Play Provider FLOW funded by the GOJ (Government of Jamaica) UAFCL (Universal Access Fund Company Limited) fund as stated in my blog article entitled “LIME, FLOW and the $JA543-million Internet plan - Ebony and Ivory”.

It will allow the rest of the Caribbean to experience the Internet revolution now sweeping Jamaica and even the US of A. To quote General Manager LIME Dominica, Jeffrey Baptiste: “People of all ages, especially the young, want to be online all the time and need fast, affordable mobile Data Service that enable them to do all the things they can now do with a fixed internet connection while on the go. Our mobile 4G network will ensure that LIME can satisfy customer needs as the insatiable demand for mobile internet Service grows.”

General Manager LIME Dominica, Jeffrey Baptiste describing what the transition will be like, which in mind best expresses what 4G should feel like, quote: “The experience for Customers moving from 2G Services, to both EDGE and 4G will be like going from riding a bicycle to driving a Ferrari; you will feel the difference immediately. This is a massive step forward for mobile Service in the Caribbean and LIME is pleased to drive the proliferation of advanced technology in the region.”

On the flip side of the coin, its looks like Telecom Provider LIME is effectively a pot calling the kettle black, though, after initially accusing Telecom Provider Digicel of misrepresentation by advertising their WiMaX 4G Mobile (IEEE 802.16d, e) Network as a 4G Network.  

Telecom Provider LIME case against Telecom Provider Digicel is currently before the FTC (Fair Trading Commission) as stated in my blog article entitled “LIME vs Digicel - The Truth About Charlie” and the articleDigicel vs LIME - Mortal Kombat over 4G Title

The ITU, the Pope of the Telecoms World, has already spoken on this issue on Monday December 6th 2010 and declared all upcoming Advanced Wireless Networks as 4G that are:

  1. Orthogonal Frequency-Division Multiplexing (OFDM), effectively the same signal multiplexing inherent in WCDMA (Wideband Code Division Multiple Access), a descendant of CDMA Networks
  2. Speed capability demonstrable in achieving 100MBps and higher
  3. IP based Networks, both Customer side and RAN (Radio Access Network)

This as was announced in the article “ITU blesses U.S Data Networks as 4G”, published December 20, 2010 3:12 PM PST by Kent German, CNET News - Dialed In and the article “4G: What's in a name?”, published October 21st, 2010 12:42 PM PDT by Marguerite Reardon, CNET News - Signal Strength that effectively made Telecom Provider T-Mobile HSDPA+ Release 7 able to wear the sash 4G. Quite handy, as the 4G Protocol is not “clearly defined”

My blog article entitled “Digicel the ITU and Samsung Galaxy Tablet - The Sorcerer's Apprentice” suggests Telecom Provider Digicel should also be able to do so. This as the FTC is soon to pass ruling on the issue brought before them by Telecom Provider LIME as stated in the article “Digicel/ITU confirms classification of Wimax as 4G”, published Friday, December 24, 2010, The Jamaica Observer.

Only time will confirm the veracity of my Telecom Sources prognostications about Telecom Provider Digicel dismantling the MSC (Mobile Switching Center) in Duncans, Trelawny for Telecom Provider CLARO LTE Network due to their acquisition, set to be finalized in June 2011AD as stated in my blog article entitled “Digicel buys CLARO Jamaica - Jumanji Exchange is no Robbery”. More as that story develops!

It will certainly add more excitement and intrigue to the constantly changing clandestine Telecom Sector world wide. This as the Telecom Providers had all begun ramping towards a major 4G push as stated in my blog article entitled “The 4G Revolution and the Summer of 2010”!

This as the London Olympics 2012 scheduled to take center stage is slated to being on July 27th 2012AD, Sonic the Hedgehog Style this World Telecommunications and Information Society Day
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