My Thoughts on Technology and Jamaica: July 2012

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Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Phillip Paulwell allocates 700Mhz and Fiber Optic License for LTE - Broadcasters effectively on notice for Digital Switch Over

Minister of Science Technology Energy and Mining Phillip Paulwell is definitely on a tear since Sunday July 15th 2012AD. On that ominous and oft-repeated date, the OUR (Office of Utilities Regulation), the interim Telecom Regulator, set the Cross Network and International Calling Rates to JA$5.00 and JA$3.00 respectively.


The Tax on Telecom Providers as laid out in my blog article entitled “GOJ taxes Telecom Providers and OUR sets Cross Network and International Calling Rate at JA$5.00 - Data Services Prometheus was also administered on that day.  The three (3) Big Telecom Providers decided to work with it and set their plans into action to profit from the new Regulatory Framework. This now leaves MNP (Mobile Number Portability) as being the last piece of the puzzle to make the Telecom Sector Landscape complete.

Minister Paulwell has already promised this for December 2012AD as stated in the article “Paulwell promises number portability by December”, published Sunday, June 17, 2012 BY CONRAD HAMILTON Senior staff reporter, The Jamaica Observer. But it might come earlier, if Telecom Provider Digicel’s call for an early swift implementation of MNP is heeded by Minister Paulwell as noted in the article “Cellphone number portability lagging”, published Monday July 16, 2012, The Jamaica Gleaner.

Telecom Provider Digicel argues that MNP should include Fixed Lines (Mobile and Landline) is acknowledged by the Ministry of Science Technology Energy and Mining to which Telecom Provider LIME accedes as noted in article “LIME not fazed by calls for landline number portability” Published Monday July 16, 2012, The Jamaica Gleaner.

An incredible about turn from a previously held position by both Telecom Providers in 2009AD as noted in my blog article entitled “Digicel calls for MNP for Fixed Line - LIME's Brave Homefone Xpress coming with Telecoms Tax and Flat Rate Tariff”.

As if this was not enough, Minister of Science Technology Energy and Mining Phillip Paulwellhas now given new hope to contractors, RF Technicians and Telecom Engineers who work in the Telecoms Field. On Tuesday July 24th 2012AD, exactly nine (9) days after the Telecom Tax/Flat Rate Double whammie, Minister Phillip Paulwell announced in Parliament that the SMA (Spectrum Management Authority) would be:

1.      Allocating a Spectrum license in the 700MHz Band for another Telecom Provider to come to Jamaica to do LTE (Long Term Evolution) Wireless BroadbandInternet
2.      Allocating a license for Fiber-Optic Cable laying, which based on my sources will be administered by the OUR

This as stated in the article “Samsung snags LNG project”, published Wednesday July 25, 2012, The Jamaica Gleaner and officially via the GOJ (Government of Jamaica) mouthpiece, the JIS (Jamaica Information Service) in the article “Gov't Looking at 700 Mhz Band for Analogue TV Broadcasting”, published Thursday, 26 July 2012 10:34, Jamaica Information Service.

Wonderful news which he also announced alongside the LNG Committee’s choice via their strict procurement procedures of Samsung C&T Corporation of Korea as the contractor to build the Floating LNG Storage and Regasification works.

The news in the Energy Sector is a boon to Jamaica’s Manufacturing in the next three (3) years as noted in my blog article entitled “Samsung C&T Corp of Korea secured for LNG Regasification Plant and Pipelines - Jamaican Contractors to benefit from National Project to Secure Jamaica's Energy Future”.

According to his statement in Parliament on Tuesday July 24th 2012AD, the grand announcement was made, quote: “Mr Speaker, we intend to allocate one licence for the 700 Spectrum by auction, for which there will be a reserve price. We will also attach to that award a new international fibre-optic cable licence. This will allow video-sharing, surveillance, conferencing and streaming in Higher definition than is possible with existing 3G technologies”.

Thus despite the reporter’s slant of the article, the obvious is clear to those in the Telecom’s Industry; whoever gets this license for the 700MHz Band will also have the option to build out their backhaul using Fiber-Optic instead of IPRAN (Internet Protocol Radio Access Network). Added to this fact that BOTH Licenses for the Spectrum and the Fiber-Optic are available at a reserve price in one package; an indication of the thinking of Minister Phillip Paulwell as FDI (Foreign Direct Inventors) get ready for bidding on a Budget.

The norm thus far for Telecom Providers has been to use Microwave links in an IPRAN Backhaul to interconnect their Node B’s in their GSM Voice or 3G Data Networks as this is cheaper to implement.

But LTE, which is capable of speeds of up to 100MBps, needs Fiber-Optic as it backhaul. Microwave links develop power consumption, signal stability as well as Latency issues at Higher Network clock speeds as pointed out in my Geezam blog article entitled “How to Access LIME or Digicel’s 3G Internet using an unlocked Huawei E1556 Modem Dongle or Nokia Modem Dongle”.

A Fiber-Optic License neatly solves this problem, allowing the bidder for this Spectrum to exercise this option as their backhaul and thus ensure quality business-grade LTE Service. Critical to get Businesses excited about using such speeds, being that at speeds of 100MBps, the prices will be only affordable in the immediate short term by Commercial interests.

These concerns of Business customer for the usage of Wireless Broadband has been noted in several past articles:


As for Residential customers, at such speeds of 100MBps would have to be marketed as a Wireless WideBand with some VAS (Value Added Services) as prognosticated in my blog articles entitled “Telecom Providers, 100MBps Broadband and the Broadcasting Commission - Redemption Song” as well as the article “Telecom Provider and 100MBps - Diamonds are Forever”. This is to ensure that the majority of customers are Postpaid Customers. VAS such as:

1.      Video Calling
2.      3D HDTV
3.      Real Time Backup Services
4.      Cloud Telephony i.e. VoIP

But what is more interesting is the SpectrumBand itself. 700MHz is in the lower part of the UHF (Ultra HighFrequency) Band that is normally reserved for Free-to-Air Broadcasters for channels 52 to 68 in the NTSC (National Television Systems Committee) Analog channel allocation as per the list at Standard NTSC Television Frequencies. Since Free-to-Air Broadcasters are not using these Bands.

In fact, the Free-to-Air Broadcasters are slated to go DSO (Digital Switch Over) by 2015AD by the Broadcasting Commission as stated in the article “Timeline set for digital switchover; Broadcasting Commission, media group disagree on pace”, published Sunday November 21, 2010 by Mark Titus, Business Reporter, The Jamaica Gleaner. The RJR Communications Group and the CVM Communications Group, both Free-to-Air Radio and Television, are literally living on borrowed time.

With this declared tranche of Spectrum, the Spectrum Management Authority will definitely be looking for more unused Spectrum to deliver Broadband services in the UHF (Ultra High Frequency) and even the VHF (Very High Frequency) Band as hinted in my blog articles entitled “Broadcasting and Digital Switch Over -Back to the Future to compete with LIME TV”.

Want more concrete reasoning for the above prediction?

Well, the fact that the Bandwidth used for true 4G is the same as 3G i.e. 5MHz, which is a little smaller than NTSC (National Television Standards Committee) Bandwidth of 6MHz, hints at the strong possibility that the next Bands that will be targeted by Minister Phillip Paulwell and the SMA will be those in the VHF and UHF Bands.

A definite sign that the users of the Free-To-Air Television frequencies will have to go DSO in a bid to more efficiently use the Spectrum for DTT (Digital Terrestrial Television) and Broadband Internet services which can be used for IPTV (Internet Protocol Television)as stated in my blog articles entitled “Broadcasting and Digital Switch Over -Back to the Future to compete with LIME TV”.

Thus Free-To-Air Broadcasters will not need these frequencies and their HighBandwidth and reduced attenuation by metallic structures in buildings makes them excellent for low-latency High speed LTE Networks. Due to the protocol subset of LTE, this potential coming Telecom Provider would have to build out a GSM (Global System Mobile) Network, as the SIM Cards are needed as authentication of UE (User Equiptment) that can access that Telecom Provider’s the Network to use the LTE service.

This coming HeterogenousNetwork i.e. 2 Network-in-one; Voice and Data Networks, built on this new 700MHz Spectrum, the details of which are yet to be ratified, has yet another attribute that makes it attractive: lower power consumption. This as at the 700MHz Band, the power consumption of the WCDMA (WideBand Code Division Multiple Access) protocol encodes symbols using QAM (Quadrature Amplitude Modulation) is considerably less energy than conventional 850MHz, 1800MHz or 1900MHz SpectrumNetworks.

For this reason, I’m going to go out on a limb and predict that with the rising cost of Electricity and power, the potential coming Telecom Provider will be using lower power Equiptment, such as Alcatel-Lucent mini Node B as described in prognosticated in my blog articles entitled “Telecom Providers, Alternative Energy and ISO9001 - Alcatel-Lucent, I shrunk the Node B Kids”.

They may even be using Solar and wind Power as a source of Prime Power to power their gear as argued in my mini-series set of articles on the use of Alternative Energy in Telecoms:


To summarize, Minister Phillip Paulwell’s 700MHz Band allocation indicates preparations are underway for a coming future LTE Telecom Provider. In the same breath, Minister Phillip Paulwell is basically putting the Free-To-Air Broadcasters on Notice to progress with their plans for DSO (Digital Switch Over) in 2015AD.

This as the SMA will definitely be coming for more Spectrum to satisfy the coming crush of demand for Wireless Data Services as predicted in my blog article entitled “OUR Records Voice Decline for the Fourth Quarter of 2010 - Postpaid, Data Services and Fixed Line Mobile and Landline Saturday Night Fever for Telecom Providers”.






Samsung C&T Corp of Korea secured for LNG Regasification Plant and Pipelines - Jamaican Contractors to benefit from National Project to Secure Jamaica's Energy Future

The news is in folks!

Jamaica has a guarantee of supply for LNG (Liquid Natural Gas) from Trinidad and Tobago as it would appear the talks as mentioned in the article “Jamaica, Trinidad LNG Talks Continue”, published Friday July 20, 2012 12:57 pm, The Jamaica Gleaner went well.

Now Jamaica has secured the services of a multinational Contractor Samsung C&T Corporation of Korea to procure the following services relating to the supply of LNG as described in Geezam blog article entitled “JPS Co to build Jamaica’s first Gas Turbine Power Plant in St. Catherine”:

1.      Construct the Floating Storage and Regasification Terminals
2.      Construction of the Gas Pipelines to retail LNG directly to large buyers in Jamaica

This as stated in Parliament by Science Technology Energy and Mining Minister Phillip Paulwell in the article “Samsung snags LNG project”, published Wednesday July 25, 2012, The Jamaica Gleaner.

Samsung C&T Corporation of Korea was one of three (3) bidders shortlisted by the LNG Committee then headed by Christopher Zacca:

1.      Exmar Marine of Belgium
2.      Samsung C&T Corporation of Korea
3.      SenerIngenieria y Sisternas, SA of Spain

Remember, earlier in April 2012AD, Trinidad and Tobago’s state owned Refinery PETROTRIN had discovered an estimated 48 million barrels of crude Oilin 60m of shallow water in the Gulf of Paria four (4) miles west of Point Fortin as described in my blog article entitled “Trinidad and Tobago Discover new reserves of Oil in shallow water - God is indeed a Trini and Jamaica courts them for LNG again”.

In that same article I had also speculated that with this new discovery and other future discoveries coming on the horizon for Trinidad and Tobago, it now meant that Trinidad and Tobago could be a potential supplier for LNG. The GOJ seemed to think so.

Within April 2012AD the Science Technology Energy and Mining Minister Phillip Paulwell in conjunction with the Investment and Commerce Minister Anthony Hylton had hinted at the possibility of Trinidad being a supplier of LNG as stated in the article “Ja-T'dad LNG talks at 'ground zero'”, published Monday April 23, 2012, The Jamaica Gleaner.

Science Technology Energy and Mining Minister Phillip Paulwell within that same month of April 2012AD has also negotiated for a bigger stake in the LNG Project for the GOJ as pointed out in my article entitled “Phillip Paulwell wants as bigger stake in the LNG Plant - Mr. Vegas Bruk it Down as Jamaica Courts Trinidad and Tobago for LNG”.

This as the ownership of the Jamaica Public Service Company stands as thus:

1.      20% to JPS
2.      40% to Marubeni
3.      40% Korean Partner EWP (East West Power)

With only a 19% stake in the JPS Co (Jamaica Power Supply Company) 20% stake Jamaica sole Electricity Utility company, the GOJ are effectively holding on to a 4% stake in the soon-to-be-built LNG Plant in Old Harbour as stated in the article “Paulwell wants a bigger stake in 360MW plant”, published Wednesday April 25, 2012, The Jamaica Gleaner.

Hence the push to form the Jamaica Gas Trust Company and capitalize it with US$100 million of cash and US$100 million of credit from the Trusts potential customers and is to handle the day-to-day financial operations involved in supply of LNG to customers as well as the maintenance of Pipelines and the LNG Infrastructure as mentioned in the article “Government gives green light to Jamaica Gas Trust company”, published Friday, April 27, 2012 by CAMILO THAME Business co-ordinatorThe Jamaica Observer

The Ministry of Energy and Mining is clearly seeking the Private Sector to provide this money as Private Equity Investors to secure the GOJ’s stake in the LNG project via the Jamaica Gas Trust as stated in the article “Jamaica seeking equity investors in LNG company” Published Wednesday May 2, 2012, The Jamaica Gleaner.

Thus the LNG Project is not just about supplying cheaper Energy to Jamaica, but may also turn out to be the biggest cash cow not only to Power Engineers my article entitled “Senator Phillip Paulwell chooses LNG over Coal - Power Engineers in Steven King's Graveyard Shift”.

It also appears to be a case of the Private Sector companies investing in their own Energy Security as well as getting their hands into the LNG Supply Game. This as potential large buyers of LNG include:

1.      Bakeries such as Continental Baking Corporation and Honeybun
2.      Farms and Manufacturing plants such as Jamaica Broilers Limited and CB Chicken,
3.      PPP (Private Power Providers) such as JEP (Jamaica Energy Partners) owners of the Doctor Bird 1 and Doctor Bird 2 Power Barge
4.      Alumina Plants such as JAMALCO in Halse Hall, Clarendon as pointed out in JEP (Jamaica energy Partners) and JAMALCO as opined in my blog article entitled  “PM Portia Simpson Milller ALCOA Talks hint at LNG - Lady Gaga's Paparazzi in Jamaica's Bauxite Sector” .

If negotiations with Trinidad and Tobago by Science Technology Energy and Mining Minister Phillip Paulwell in partnership with the Investment and Commerce Minister Anthony Hyltonare successful, then JPSCo’s half of the US$616 million (J$53 billion) as stated in my Geezam blog article entitled “Phillip Paulwell wants Full Energy Sector Liberalization – JPS Co’s Dan Theoc holding on to his Hard End” needed to begin the construction of the LNG Plant in Old Harbour by 2015AD is secure.

As for local Jamaican contractors, now would be a good time to start nosing around the Ministry of Science Technology Energy and Mining as well as the Investment and Commerce in relation to when Samsung C&T Corporation of Korea will begin work and if they will be in need of their contractual services for this National Project to Secure Jamaica’s Energy Future!

Friday, July 20, 2012

Digicel calls for MNP for Fixed Line - LIME's Brave Homefone Xpress coming with Telecoms Tax and Flat Rate Tariff

Telecom Provider Digicel is calling for MNP (Mobile Number Portability) as if their life depended on it as stated in the article “Cellphone number portability lagging”, published Monday July 16, 2012, The Jamaica Gleaner.

MNP (Mobile Number Portability) is already slated for a December 2012AD rollout as stated in the article “Paulwell promises number portability by December”, published Sunday, June 17, 2012 BY CONRAD HAMILTON Senior staff reporter, The Jamaica Observer


Telecom Provider LIME, curiously enough, is apprehensive but supportive nonetheless, showing a willingness to get the process going as quickly as possible. Telecom Provider LIME is stating in effect that this should be the way it is in a properly run Telecom Sector as surmised from the article “LIME not fazed by calls for landline number portability” Published Monday July 16, 2012, The Jamaica Gleaner.

Their Logic is that the world is going Mobile, both in terms of Voice and Data Services, to quote LIME Chairman Chris Dehring: “The reality is that the entire world is more attuned to mobile numbers than fixed line. If somebody wants to get into a business that is not growing globally, that is their purview”.

This after having shown to be sitting on the fence with regards to the issue for the past three (3) years since May 2009AD as stated in the article Mobile Firms divided on Mobile number portability” published Friday, 15 May 2009, The Jamaica Gleaner and summarized in my blog article entitledCLARO vs Digicel - Cross-Network Flat Rate Calling and MNP Cometh”.

So why the sudden about face by Telecom Provider Digicel? The reason can be seen in the content of their demand; MNP should also be extended to Fixed Line Mobil and Landline customers as well.

Telecom Provider Digicel appears to be doing like Telecom Provider LIME and making their voice heard by demanding an early rollout! This after having lost their appeal to have a judicial Review of the OUR’s powers to regulate Telecoms.

Telecom Provider Digicel also claimed a denial of Natural Justice in face of not being consulted by Minister of Science, Technology Energy and Mining Phillip Paulwell as stated in the article Digicel loses bid to challenge new call rates set by OUR”, published Thursday July 12, 2012, The Jamaica Gleaner andDigicel disappointed by court ruling” published Thursday July 12, 2012, The Jamaica Gleaner.

Thus it appears that Telecom Provider Digicel has effectively conceded defeat, as an Appeals process would drag on for more than three (3) years. Telecom Provider LIME, using sustained advertising and Promotional events, would re-acquire marketshare among a younger audience that has very little recollection of the formed persona of Telecom Provider LIME i.e. C&W Jamaica Ltd – before the Liberalization of the Telecoms Sector by then Minister of Technology and Commerce Phillip Paulwell.

But even more compelling is that by conceding the OUR position and pushing for MNP (Mobile Number Portability), Telecom Provider Digicel hopes to appease the Supreme Court in another more important case.

This as it relates to the case brought by the FTC (Fair Trading Commission) relating to America Movil – Digicel swap for the assets of CLARO Jamaica as analyzed in my blog article entitled “FTC wins right to pursue legal action against the Digicel-America Movil swap - Game of Thrones as Mobile Data Candyshop beckons

But what exactly is this MNP (Mobile Number Portability) that’s making the round in the Media? Simply put, it’s the ability to retain your phone number when switching Mobile Telecom Networks, with LNP being the Fixed Line Landline flavour. And it’s been around since 1997AD when Singapore first pioneered the concept.

In Latin America and the Caribbean Basin, the Dominican Republic went the MNP route in July 2009. MNP is now a de facto standard in some thirty three (33) countries including the United States, Australia and the MNP pioneer, Singapore.

Historically in Jamaica, LIME Jamaica Country Manager Geoff Houston, was the first person to publicly support MNP in May 2009AD as stated in the article “Mobile firms divided on number portability”, published Friday, 15 May 2009, the Daily Gleaner.

The logic at the time was that it would make it easier for Digicel customers to switch and become Telecom Provider LIME customers without having to change their number, the main impediment along with the cost of a new instrument Telecom Provider LIME regaining marketshare. Additionally MNP makes Telecoms Markets more efficient.

As instead of each Telecom Provider having their own set of numbers that are licensed only to their Network, the license is shared among the group of Telecom Providers and maintained in a central database, which makes it cheaper and easier to manage.

Then in November 2009AD, the OUR agreed…..sort of.

According to the article OUR signals policy shift on portability - Says Jamaica running out of phone numbers”, published Friday November 20, 2009 by, Mark Titus, Gleaner Reporter, The Jamaica Gleaner, then OUR Director General Ahmad Zia Mian, stated that MNP was a necessity as Jamaica had used up all of the eight million (8,000,000) phone numbers that were assigned to our LATA (Local Access Transport Area).

With only one million (1,000,000) phone numbers left to be assigned form the eight million (8,000,0000) set given to Jamaica since the Liberalization of the Telecoms sector in 2000AD, the NANP (North American Numbering Plan) demanded more efficiency in order for extra numbers to be provisioned.

This as it seemed odd that in a country with a population of 2.7 million people, we could have already burned through so many numbers as explained in my blog article entitled “Who among you Telecom Providers is without sin cast the first stone against MNP”.

This problem of a perceived “shortage” of mobile phone numbers appears to have dissipated, but the benefits to customers appears to have been glossed over by both Telecom Provider, who were mainly focused on increasing their marketshare.

So fast-forward again to 2012AD when the rates are falling from the skies as chronicled in no more than four (4) separate blog article of mine:


MNP rears its head yet again in a promise by Minister of Science, Technology Energy and Mining Phillip Paulwell to have it in place by December 2012AD as stated in the article “Paulwell promises number portability by December”, published Sunday, June 17, 2012 BY CONRAD HAMILTON Senior staff reporter, The Jamaica Observer.

However, this time the beneficiary is Telecom Provider Digicel, which in part explains why Telecom Provider LIME has not been clamouring for MNP as indicated by their response in the article LIME not fazed by calls for landline number portability” Published Monday July 16, 2012, The Jamaica Gleaner.

This as with Cross Network Rates now at a  historic low of JA$5.00 plus the GOJ’s Pound of Flesh in the form of the taxes that brings it up to JA$6.99 as detailed in my blog article entitled “GOJ taxes Telecom Providers and OUR sets Cross Network and International Calling Rate at JA$5.00 - Data Services Prometheus.

Thus it makes very little difference to the customer, who is more influenced to switch to Telecom Provider LIME because of the lower rates than MNP. Additionally, MNP is mainly a creature of Postpaid Networks. Both Telecom Provider LIME and Telecom Provider Digicel have mostly Prepaid customers consisting approximately 90% of their customer base!

If anything the lower On-Net, Cross Network and International Rates will boost Prepaid and Fixed Line Landline Services as well as Mobile Broadband Services as concluded based on statistics from the OUR for 2009 to 2010AD as per my blog article entitled “OUR Records Voice Decline for the Fourth Quarter of 2010 - Postpaid, Data Services and Fixed Line Mobile and Landline Saturday Night Fever for Telecom Providers”.

Telecom Provider LIME can also respond by expanding their Homefone Xpress Service islandwide to shore up their Fixed Line Mobile Services as stated in my blog article entitled “LIME Landline Rental Increase and HomeFone XPress - The Dead Zone is the Sum of All Fears.

The OUR numbers coupled with the recent and coming Regulatory changes in the Telecom Sector indicate a trending towards the convenience of Fixed Line Mobile and Landline Services and Postpaid as Jamaica’s population ages as concluded in  my blog article entitled “OUR Records Voice Decline for the Fourth Quarter of 2010 - Postpaid, Data Services and Fixed Line Mobile and Landline Saturday Night Fever for Telecom Providers”.

However, first trend that may be noticeable come December 2012AD is an increased purchased of Dual-SIM mobile phones to take advantage of Voice Calling Services Rates, such as those mane by Florida-based smartphone maker Plum as stated in the article “Who the heck is Plum Anyway?”, published May 11 2012 6:27 PDT, by Lynn La, CNET News .

This as despite the lower Cross Network Rates, many may wish to emulate their Postpaid counterparts by having the Best of Both worlds to switch between networks as they have a mind, albeit not keeping the same number!

But more interestingly MNP also lends itself to assisting the ISCF (Island Special Constabulary Force) and the JCF (Jamaica Constabulary Force) aka the Jamaican Police to easily track and apprehend criminals as mentioned in my blog article entitled “Digicel's Sweetest Deal and Digicel Mobile 4G Launched - Challenge to LIME Talk EZ heralds Postpaid, MRSI via MNP and Cashless Society Renaissance”.

This as MNP is a precursor to MRSI (Mandatory Registration of Subscriber Information) that was introduced in 2010AD as per my blog article entitled “MNP and MRSI - How it leads to Mobile Number Portability and Crime Eradication in Jamaica and MNP and US Authorities - MRSI Bill to be passed to catch criminals

Telecom Provider CLARO had acceded to the GOJ’s request for MRSI as stated in the article CLARO Backs Cell Phone Tracking Plan; Digicel, LIME in Wait-And-See Mode”, published Sunday May 16, 2010 by Mark Titus, Business Reporter, the Sunday Gleaner.