My Thoughts on Technology and Jamaica: Digicel and the up and coming WiMax launch - blowing in the wind

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Digicel and the up and coming WiMax launch - blowing in the wind

Ever since 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 addresses rumors”, published Monday March 29th 2010, The Monday Star.

The announcement of Digicel Rising Stars, now in its lucky seventh season and the announcements of its new hour and a half (1 ½) format, which should be a boon to advertisers and a welcome Sunday family entertainment after Church, is now the stuff of movies.

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.

This as Telecom Provider Digicel  launched the much touted WiMaX 4G Mobile (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 Telecom Provider 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 Jamaicans still not online”, published Saturday, September 2nd 2006, The Jamaica Gleaner.

Telecom Provider 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 (IEEE 802.16a) 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 4G Fixed (IEEE 802.16a) before planning to launch in Jamaica.

Much as they tested out DigiTV in Vanatu, Tonga and Samoa islands in the far South 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 article Digicel 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

Senator Phillip Paulwell, Minister of Telecommunications of the PNP (Peoples National Power) spoke, saying, quote: “for each Internet connection the average number of persons with access is between six and eight; A lot more Jamaicans are using the Internet than that figure indicates” and the statisticians conducting the surveys, who stated that “comparative figures for the Kingston Metropolitan Area were surprising, but likely explained by higher proportions employed.  St. Mary, Westmoreland and Clarendon showed unusually high access levels, much accounted for by other locations”.

But Senator Phillip Paulwell, Minister of Telecommunications noted that with Broadband access, both wireless and wired, scheduled to be available island wide by year end, the number of access will increase significantly, a prognostication which was based, ostensibly, on the presence of FLOW and JNAP (Jamaica Network Access Point) and thus coming competition which was expected to drive the prices of internet access down due to competition and cheaper computers in the future.

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 Blackberry, would become statistically significant.

Then in 2009 Digicel CEO Mark Linehan made a bold announcement at no other fitting place than the Knutsford Court Hotel (original home of Digicel Rising Stars) as stated in the article “Digicel to offer mini laptops with 4G service next year”, published Friday September 4, 2009, The Jamaica Gleaner.

An announcement that arose as the big announcement which stood in stark contrast to statements earlier in the year of voluntary redundancies by Telecom Provider Digicel as stated in the article “Digicel offers voluntary redundancies”, published Tuesday January 13, 2009 by Arthur Hall, Senior Staff Reporter, The Jamaica Gleaner.

Telecom Provider Digicel had recent success using their green dye to mitigate diesel fuel theft as stated in the article “Digicel cuts fuel theft” published Friday July 31, 2009, The Jamaica Gleaner

The initiative launched by Digicel to counter Telecom Provider CLARO phone return policy involving recycling mobile phones as stated in the article “Recycle phone, save a child - Digicel launches HIV outreach campaign” published Thursday August 13, 2009 by Grace-Ann Black, Gleaner Intern, The Jamaica Gleaner.

Telecom Provider Digicel also re-invigoration of their DataCenter as stated in their article “Digicel diversifies - US$500m Data Center opens November”, Published Friday August 28, 2009 by Mark Titus, Gleaner Reporter, The Jamaica Gleaner.

Comments on the LIME and CLARO rate cut as stated in the article “Digicel says cross-rate deal a 'drastic' play for market share” published Friday September 4, 2009, The Jamaica Gleaner

Finally the last significant item of the year 2009AD, Digicel’s acquisition of Telecom Provider Orange n the Dominican Republic as stated  in the article “Digicel buys rival firm in Dominica - to fo head-to-head with  LIME after Orange aquisition”,  published Wednesday September 16, 2009 The Jamaica Gleaner.

Indeed, already here in Jamaica, we now have two (2) Telecoms Providers who have launched 3G namely Telecom Provider CLARO  and Telecom Provider  LIME and a third, Telecom Provider Digicel that had launched WiMaX 4G Fixed (IEEE 802.16a) in 2007 under DigiBusiness and DigiCorp

Telecom Provider Digicel is soon to launch WiMaX 4G Mobile (IEEE 802.16d) at the end of the second quarter of 2010 as stated in the article “Digicel to offer mini laptops with 4G service next year”, published Friday September 4, 2009, The Jamaica Gleaner.

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

There is even a more potent mix that is set to be made more explosive in the Summer of 2010 with the impending launch of  Telecom Provider Digicel’s foray into broadcasting in the form of DigiTV in Jamaica, already successfully launched in Vanatu, Tonga and other Polynesian islands also possibly to be launched a little before the launch of their WiMaX 4G Mobile (IEEE 802.16d) Network, possibly at the start of Rising Stars, as strongly hinted in the article “DigiTV launch for 2009 - Mobile Provider branches into TV”, published Friday November 14th 2009 by Ross Sheil, The Jamaica Observer.

Rumors that LIME is launching a competitor to DigiTV, namely LIME TV, with exclusive all-island Wireless Subscriber Television license to rebroadcast Direct TV, the Summer of 2010 is looking to be very hot this year, making Telecom Provider CLARO look rather impotent.

This as Telecom Provider CLARO are yet to announce any impending WebTV or Wireless Digital Broadcast plans, as apparently with no public news on their possible acquisition of Triple Play Provider FLOW, one can only speculate that they might do on this front as their current rival Telecom Provider Digicel is launching DigiTV.

Now strong indications are emerging in 2010 for the first time since the silence on TechJamaica that something big is on the horizon.

That being the recent mention of WiMaX being used during the Rotary Clubs of Jamaica attempt to break the Guinness World Book of Records Record for the most books collected in seven (7) days, which was broadcast using WiMaX as stated by the article “Guinness World Record smashed – 546,053 books donated after two days of Rotary Clubs Drive”, published Monday May 3 2010, The Jamaica Gleaner.

Albeit the report does not state the type of WiMaX used, based on the location, which is in Emancipation Park, it most likely was done using a WiMaX 4G Mobile (IEEE 802.16d) connection.

The recent launch of the Ity and Fancy Cat Show at the Knutsford Court Hotel by Manager Kay Osbourne, which is slated to launch on Sunday for the time slot of 9:30 pm on Sundays is an indication of the coming level of entertainment.

It may well be a possible launch of WiMaX 4G mobile debut in action and the surprise as stated by the show’s [Digicel Rising Stars] producer, Sharon Schroeter that will be incorporated in the set design as hinted in the Television interview on “Smile Jamaica”, aired on Friday 26th March 2010, Television Jamaica. Which from the face of it, could be anything from a go-go dancing pole, touch sensitive set floor that light up when your move around.

Or (dare I even utter this?) the use of holography in a demonstration of the usefulness of WiMaX 4G Mobile (IEEE 802.16d) Network to host a tele-presence conversation on stage, similar to the concept used in the movie G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra (2009), where the technology was used to hold meetings and conversations with people very distant from the location.

If that last bit is for real, as holography does actually exist and is used mostly for advertising, it would be quite a treat for people to be “in the show” without having to actually come to the studio, a capability holography affords and which is not far fetched.

Especially with news of 3-D HDTV Television sets and US broadcasters planning to broadcast in 3-D as stated in the article “Samsung, Panasonic start selling 3-D TV's this week”, published Tue March 9 2010, 11:04 am ET, By PETER SVENSSON, AP Technology Write, Yahoo! News.

The wonderkid that is 3-D Television displayed for all to see on “Smile Jamaica”, aired on the April 5th 2010, Television Jamaica and Skype partnership with major Television makers to introduce video calling as stated in the article “Skype on TV: Will the videophone finally be reality?”, published March 2, 2010 4:00 AM PST by Erica Ogg CNET News - Circuit Breaker.

The premier of 3-D HDTV on Smile Jamaica broadcast on the April 5th 2010 is a foretaste of what is to come, as like my supposition of the use of holography as the surprise, 3-D HDTV may actually be the surprise, with Television Jamaica merely telling people plain and simple with the assumption that the audience will not get that that is the surprise, that the 3-D HDTV is able to be broadcast via WiMaX 4G Mobile (IEEE 802.16d).

Here in Jamaica, Radio and Televisions savior is the as yet completed DSO (Digital Switch Over) from Analog to Digital broadcast as stated in the 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 Reporter, The Jamaica Gleaner.

It is more spectrally efficient but also cheaper to maintain as each broadcaster in both Radio and Television would have only one (1) channel as opposed to multiple channels.

Stations would still be based on geography spectrum allocation and the potential money to be made from sale of their spectrum as stated in the article “TV white space networks tested”, published February 24, 2010 4:06 PM PST by Marguerite Reardon, CNET News - Signal Strength.

Telecom Provider Digicel’s foray into broadcasting is but one of many by FDI (Foreign Direct Investors) as even the Chinese are getting in on the game as stated in the article  Chinese media proposal troubles local interest group”, published: Tuesday  April 6, 2010, The Jamaica Gleaner.

But this is pure speculation at this point but one thing is definitely for sure, based on these last series of events………… Telecom Provider Digicel’s WiMaX 4G Mobile (IEEE 802.16d) is coming……………

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