My Thoughts on Technology and Jamaica: LIME's 4G plans are really a HSDPA+ Release 7 Upgrade - Telecom Provider LIME’s Deception as HSDPA+ is really just a faster 3G Plan from the past

Sunday, March 30, 2014

LIME's 4G plans are really a HSDPA+ Release 7 Upgrade - Telecom Provider LIME’s Deception as HSDPA+ is really just a faster 3G Plan from the past

“This test represents a significant step towards delivering on our perpetual promise to always lead with the deployment of the most modern mobile technology for the Jamaican people.”

Chief Technology and Information Officer at LIME Walter Brown at the Private Sector Organization of Jamaica's President's Breakfast Forum in New Kingston on Tuesday March 25th 2014

Telecom Provider LIME is now doing the same thing that Telecom Provider Digicel has done: deceiving people into believing they have 4G when in reality they’re planning to launch a faster 3G Network, HSDPA+ (High Speed Downlink Packet Access Plus)!

As I write this I am in shock at Telecom Provider LIME’s attempt at mass deception. Please take note dear reader: This is NOT the same thing as Bahamas 4G LTE Wireless Broadband that went live in February 2014 as noted in my blog article entitled “Bahamas Telecommunications Company launched 4G LTE on Valentine's Day - Jamaicans need UNCHR Right to Broadband Access needed to empower Jamaicans before 4G LTE can go National”.

Telecom Provider LIME is to launch what it claims to be “4G” Technology in the next two (2) weeks, counting from their announcement date of Wednesday March 26th 2014 as stated in “LIME flips on 4G within 2 weeks”, published Wednesday, March 26, 2014, The Jamaica Observer.

What it really is HSDPA+ Release 7 (64-QAM), which basically maxes out at 21 MBps, based on research I’d done already since 2011 and as show 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”.

LIME’s Deception explained – HSDPA+ Release 7 (QAM-64) is just really faster 3G

Clearly this isn’t 4G LTE (Long Term Evolution) or even WiMaX or even WISP (Wireless Internet Service Providers)! Worse, MNP (Mobile Number Portability) and LNP (Landline Number Portability) has been pushed back to December 2014, suggesting the Telecom Providers aren’t too keen on competition as I’d pointed out in my blog article entitledState Minister Julian Robinson has announced that MNP is delayed until December 2014 - ICT Roadmap in shambles as Fourth Delay Suggest Telecom Provider's Stalling the Process”.

We’ve yet to auction off the 700 MHz Spectrum and other blocks of Spectrum due to a lack of interest among Jamaicans as well as lack of the proper Regulatory Infrastructure to make it accessible to all as noted in my blog article entitled “Jamaica's 700MHz Spectrum Auction fails to attract bidders on Friday October 11 2013 - Jamaicans Lack interest in Broadband Internet and no Telecom Regulator for the Sector” and “GOJ and MSTEM auctioning WiMaX and AWS Spectrum by Monday December 5th 2013 - AWS for Point-to-point, Point-to-Multipoint Networks and Residential WiMaX for Economic Prosperity”.

Chief Technology and Information Officer at LIME Walter Brown, who made his announcement at the Private Sector Organization of Jamaica's President's Breakfast Forum in New Kingston on Tuesday March 25th 2014, confirms that Telecom Provider LIME has finally spent the earmarked US$80 million to upgrade their 3G Network to HSDPA+ Release 7 (64-QAM), which he calls “4G”.

Apparently Telecom Provider LIME Contractor Ericsson, who are also in charge of doing Maintenance for the Network as pointed out in my blog article entitled “LIME outsources Network Maintenance to Ericsson - The Lone Rangers in Telecoms may have to Tag Team to get a 700Mhz license for 4G LTE, have finally received the new HSDPA+ Release 7 (64-QAM) Cards and firmware to upgrade their 3G Network to HSDPA+ Release 7 (64-QAM). Both a Physical change of Circuit Cards or Circuit Packs, basically Electronic Circuit Boards and upgraded Firmware is required

Starting on the week of Sunday March 30th 2014, Kingston and St Andrew will be switched over to HSDPA+ Release 7 (64-QAM), with Telecom Provider LIME allegedly planning a Westward push across major Town Centers.

This upgrade includes the parish capitals of Mandeville, Manchester and May Pen, Clarendon, where they conducted a successful upgrade of the firmware and integration of a Cell site's Ericsson BBU (Base Band Unit) to the HSDPA+ Release 7 (64-QAM) Protocol capable of 21 MBps Speeds best effort.

Telecom Provider LIME’s Deception – HSDPA+ is really just faster 3G Plan from the past

This HSDPA+ Network was supposed to have gone live back in 2012 based on what had been announced by then LIME CEO David Shaw at the Ritz Carlton Hotel in Grand Cayman on Tuesday May 17th 2011 as chronicled in my blog article entitled “LIME's US$80 million Caribbean HSDPA+ Release 7 Upgrade - Sonic the Hedgehog” .

At the time when the news came out, it was only on the Dominica News Online Website as stated in 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, which is how I’d first learned of Telecom Provider LIME’s intentions back then. The announcement than came in The Jamaica Observer in “LIME brings 4G mobile technology to the Caribbean”, published Wednesday, May 18, 2011, The Jamaica Observer.

Telecom Provider LIME then followed up with basically nothing back then. Their plans, back then, based on the coming influx of tourists toting Android smartphones which had launched back in 2010 in the USA with Motorola Droid smartphones, was a tad too premature. Americans wanted smartphones; they just hadn’t developed an appetite for Android phones yet, with most of these first generation Android smartphones crashing often and having problems due to fragmentation and incompatible apps!

Telecom Provider LIME weren’t sure smartphones would become as big as they’ve become now, to the point now even Jamaicans are into them as noted in my blog article entitledJamaicans fall in love with Digicel's DL600 and DL700 during Christmas 2013 - Sub-US$100 smartphones driving rapid smartphone adoption in Jamaica as Manufacturing is Possible”. So like the Enlightened Masters at Telecom Provider LIME had to wait until the Americans had sorted out the problems and fully developed an Appetite for always-on Data on their smartphones.

LIME goes for broke with HSDPA+ - Telecom Providers Given a chance to go “4G” first

That was 2011. Fast Forward to 2014!

So with their GSM Voice Network seeing a 25% boost in subscribers as reported in my blog article entitled “LIME experiences 25% increase in Profits due to MTR - 4G LTE and FTTH like Bahamas with IPTV Streaming LIME TV will give LIME 3 Days to Kill”, I guess Telecom Provider LIME’s Enlightened Masters have awoken and are feeling a bit more confident about the future.

Even Jamaicans are now catching on to smartphones, as the interest spills over from our American counterparts, thanks mainly to the prophesied coming of budget smartphones below US$199 in price as predicted in my blog article entitled “LIME Jamaica introduces 30-day Data Plans for JA$300 and a free Alcatel One Touch T'Pop - How the Butler started the Smartphone Data Revolution”.

I hope this means they’ll also be launching FTTH (Fiber to the Home) and LIME TV as well, especially LIME TV via HSDPA+ as described in my blog article entitledLIME rolls out new Business themed ADSL and Local and International Landline Calling Bundles - DigiHome offense could Herald the coming of LIME FTTH and relaunch of LIME TV”.

Albeit this isn’t 4G LTE, which has higher Speeds of up to 50 MBps and closes in on 100 MBps, on the positive side, most persons can’t afford such Speeds, let along possess smartphones that can handle such Speeds. Also the culture in Jamaica isn’t there to desire to have always-on Internet.

And yes, we still have no Telecom Regulator, albeit one is slated to come online by about June 2014 as stated in my blog article entitledNew Telecom Regulator finally coming by July 2014 - New Telecom Provider looking for stability in the Jamaican Telecoms Market post-LNP and MNP by May 2014

I suspect that a morbid fear exists of the unknown for Telecom Providers, especially as it relates to the coming Trend of VoiP Calling that’s being initiated by WhatsApp as reported in my blog article entitled “WhatsApp VoIP Calling in Second Quarter of 2014 - WhatsApp kills International Calling at the Advent of Facetime-eqsue Premium Video VoIP Calling on smartphones”.

A Telecom Regulator is necessary along with all its trappings, including of a loss of the ability to set their own Rates by July 2014 as noted in my blog article entitledNew Telecom Regulator finally coming by July 2014 - New Telecom Provider looking for stability in the Jamaican Telecoms Market post-LNP and MNP by May 2014”.

Everything from the trend among customers towards low-Cost smartphones, Dual-SIM Smartphones and even Unlocked SIM Cards as explained in my blog article entitled “The Netherlands makes Carrier Unlocked SIM Cards Legal - Apple's Idea revived heralding M2M and the Internet of Things, a financial Boon to Telecom Providers” means revenue lost.

The Telecom Providers has to adapt to the new Technology in order to continue making money, usually less money than before for awhile, until something else comes along to excite customers!

So I suspect this is LIME’s latest attempt to excite customers about getting “4G” now that the Jamaicans have caught wind of the fact that our Bahamian Brother have been using it since February 2014 as stated in my blog article entitled “Bahamas Telecommunications Company launched 4G LTE on Valentine's Day - Jamaicans need UNCHR Right to Broadband Access needed to empower Jamaicans before 4G LTE can go National”.

So what will Telecom Provider Digicel do? I’ll be posting another article soon on what’s in store from Telecom Provider Digicel as they ramp up towards their 4G Launch!
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