My Thoughts on Technology and Jamaica: Telecom Providers and Broadcasting - Mobile Apps the saviour of Radio and TV

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Telecom Providers and Broadcasting - Mobile Apps the saviour of Radio and TV

It must be so, - Plato, thou reason’st well!
Else whence this pleasing hope, this fond desire
This longing after immortality?

Addison, Cato, V, 1

Indeed, many people think because I speak so oft about the Telecom Providers Digicel, CLARO and LIME that I still work with them – which John Public emphatically denies, as I have long left CLARO since December of 2009 due to the ill health of my girlfriend Audia Granston, who later succumbed to her illness and died, Bastet and her guardians [cats] guarding her simple tomb, in keeping with the tradition of Seventh Day Adventists.

This is the general reasoning of even my online fan base of nearly 800,000,000 emails in my newsletter and my blog, amazed at my still fresh predictions as to what they are up to next:

  1. Big Three (3) Telecom Providers Digicel, CLARO and LIME
  2. Big Three (3) Broadcasters the RJR Communications Group, the CVM Communications Group and LOVE Radio TV
  3. Big Three (3) Banks, namely RBTT (Royal Bank of Trinidad and Tobago), BNS (Bank of Nova Scotia) and NCB (National Commercial Bank)
  4. Big Three (3) Newspapers, The Herald, The Jamaica Observer and The Jamaica Gleaner

FaceBook, you are so underrated!

Even if FaceBook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, now at the ripe old age of twenty five (25) and a Hollywood icon cum celebrity with his own movie coming out shortly, ever manages to reach one billion (1,000,000,000) users by canvassing the younger set in Russia, The Peoples Republic of China, Korea and Japan as stated in the video CNET Buzz Report, aired Thursday June 24th 2010 by Molly Wood, Executive Editor, CNET News.

Yahoo! Mail and Messenger will STILL be the Newsletter King and Google Blogger the Free Blog Meister, iconic representations of the fastest growing media: email, Messaging and blogging, the original Social Networks and partly the reason for the sustained popularity of the so-call “smart” phone from RIM (Research in Motion), the Blackberry, with its baked in PIN Messaging service and email.

In Clarendon, my status has taken on a life of its own, as were I on the Social Network FourSquare, I would be the Mayor for Amazing PC in Bargain Village.

I am called “Mr. CLARO” or “Soulja Boy” by virtually all who know me in this bustling town, mainly due to the fact that I am notorious for explaining any aspect of CLARO operation, future plans and possible Data and Voice Strategies

This was a fun thing for me, hanging out as I do at the Amazing PC Store in May Pen , Clarendon in at the back of the Bargain Village Plaza, otherwise known as the Baxter Building with the superhero work crew at Amazing PC being the Fantastic Four.

This is of course not to forget mentioning the other “celebrities” on the Baxter Building, the May Pen Socialites who congregate at the Bee Hive Cyber CafĂ© and Bar, its Bee shaped logo stridently emblazoned on the Baxter Building and drinks.

Humour and annoying one liners being served up by the witty twenty (20) year old petite female bartender, another happening and trendy spot for the Wi-Fi (IEEE 802.11n) and Internet surfing crowd on a typical week or weekend night in an otherwise dead May Pen!

Did I forget to mention the Supreme Ventures Gaming Lounge? Or the Jus Bet Sports Lounge, where you can bet on your favourite Sports Teams? Let it not be said that we the young do not have our hang-out place when night falls!! Kingston and Upper St. Andrew, eat your hearts out, Darlings!

The same was true when I worked at C&W as a Network Maintenance Technician, hunched around the Nortel Networks DMS 100/200 Switch Terminals, called MAP (Maintenance Access Positions) Terminals.

Or occasionally going on the road in the C&W Blue and White LiteAce to fix problems with the OPM (Outside Plant Modules), OPACS (Outside Plant Access Cabinet), RLCM (Remote Line Concentrating Modules) and Remote Exchanges.

Be they Toll, Tandem or Gateway, travels in Upper St. Andrew upon which I would encounter persons to whom I would explain the inner workings of Telecom Provider C&W and thus get invitations to events, parties and other social gatherings and thereby get to know Kingston and St. Andrew very well.

Like Gossip Girl, Audia Granston’s favorite show on Cable TV, XOXO. But with the coming of true all-island Wireless Broadband in the form of Digicel’s WiMaX 4G Mobile (IEEE 802.16d) Wireless Broadband Network and Dekal Wireless, a Municipal Wi-Fi (IEEE 802.11n) Network.

Not to mention the proliferations of smart phones and other devise embedded with Wi-Fi (IEEE 802.11n) modems, will this lead to a comeback for Radio as posited in the article “Smartphones make Mobile Radio sing”, published July 12, 2010, 11:49PM EST by Olga Kharif, DIGITAL ENTERTAINMENT, BloomBerg BusinessWeek?

John Public examines the issue in detail, for like Gossip Girl, I know the Telecom Provider’s secret: Money……

The impending launch of Digicel’s WiMaX 4G Mobile (IEEE 802.16d) Wireless Broadband Network as stated in the article Digicel quietly testing 4G for August launch”, published Sunday June 27th 2010 by Mark Titus, Gleaner Reporter, The Jamaica Sunday Gleaner will, like myself, be a grab for a household name status and popularity.

Telecom Provider CLARO is still limping, blissfully unaware that their Wireless Broadband Empire is slowly slipping away from them and Telecom Provider  LIME has just reached Montego Bay as stated in the article “ LIME to build US$40m 3G Network for Montego Bay”, published Sunday June 27, 2010, by Janeta Silvera, Senior Gleaner Writer, The Sunday Gleaner.  

This after launching with much fanfare in September 2008, seemingly taking their own sweet time and launching in typical fashion expected of the former Telecom monopolist.

This grab for popularity will be very hard. Dekal Wireless, a Municipal Wi-Fi (IEEE 802.11n) Network, launched in the last week of June 2010 thus firing the first shots in the quietly fought Data Wars which even the OUR (Office of Utilities Regulation) is failing to monitor, due to the unavailability of statistical information from the Big Three (3) Telecom Providers as stated in the article Telecom revenue hit record in September Q” published Wednesday July 7th 2010, The Jamaica Observer.

And as John Public sees it, because most of the people in charge as Managers of the Telecom Providers do and still do not appreciate or see Data as a significant growth area in the short term, only in the long term, hence the lack of Data collection on its growth.

Their stealthy launch was so quiet, as Dekal Wireless did not even advertise in the newspaper that they were coming, much less any advertisements on traditional broadcasters such a Radio or Television (not even Smile Jamaica!!!).

Or even the web and would have gone unnoticed had I not been eagle eyed and noticed the construction of an unidentified mast tower atop Young’s Pharmacy that has alpha, beta and gamma sector antennas and microwave antennas.

Nothing odd here, except that these were smaller, about the distance from the tip of my hand to my elbow and the microwave antennas were square, not circular and they were not Andrews or Agisson, suggesting the use of unlicensed spectrum (60 GHz typically) Microwave Repeaters

Mostly likely with no MSC (Mobile Switching Center), probably purchasing head end [Internet Access] from the closest Telecom Provider in each Town in each Parish that they set up shop, Telecom Provider  LIME in the case of May Pen, Clarendon, and most likely ADSL (Asynchronous Digital Subscriber Line).

Enquiries led me to discover that Dekal Wireless is providing Pay-as-you-Go Wi-Fi (IEEE 802.11n) to ANY device with built in Wi-Fi (IEEE 802.11n) at speeds of 4MBps and maxing out at 10 Mbps, for effectively what is an “all-you-can-eat” Day Pass (24-hours) at a cost of JA$180 on the purchase of an access card from Young’s Pharmacy, May Pen, Clarendon.

Thus suggesting the Local Entrepreneurs are probably Americans with former Technicians from C&W, as this is the exact same setup of Telecom Provider AT&T Municipal Wi-Fi (IEEE 802.11n), except not tied to a Telecom Provider.

A missed opportunity for the Big Three (3) Telecom Providers, as ironically they will now have to compete against themselves, oweing to the fact that it is the head end supplied to this company!

Whether in the form of LIME ADSL or FLOW 15MBps Cable Internet or just simply raw T1 head end straight from the Telecom Providers, with the Broadband signal being carried by unlicensed spectrum (60 GHz typically) Microwave Repeaters.

Thus no spectrum licenses required either for the provisioning of the Wi-Fi (IEEE 802.11n) broadcast or the use of the spectrum for the Microwave Repeaters (CLARO RF Technicians call them Radios, Telecom Provider AT&T Technicians call them Backhaul).

All of this confirms my suspicions as I had relayed earlier in my blog article entitled “CLARO and the coming of Municipal Wi-Fi - Shadows of the Empire” of a Local Entrepreneur taking advantage of the fact that the price of Broadband has fallen since the completion of the US$45 million dollar Fibralink Project by FibraLink Jamaica CEO Richard Pardy.

Thereby the fiber optic capacity of Jamaica has increased by a factor of sixty (60) from 2.5 Gbps to nearly 150 GBps as stated in the article “Information highway revolution to hit Jamaica”, published Friday March 3rd 2006 by Keith Collister, The Jamaica Gleaner.

Broadband access which was resold to Local Telecom Providers Digicel, CLARO and  LIME, thus significantly dropping the cost of international calling.

It is a partial explanation of the strange disparity that exists as it relates to the cost of International Voice calling being lower than Local Voice calling rates and the drop in Data Rates from JA$100 per megabyte to JA$40 per megabyte.

Indeed, being one of two (2) licensed Government of Jamaica Undersea Fiber Optic Installers, the other being TCCCL (Tran-Caribbean Cable Company Limited), is no mean feat in itself.

Mr. Richard Pardy, a Canadian, must therefore be thanked for his massive investment in Jamaica, as the laying of fiber optic cable is not a profitable venture, oweing that Telecom Providers usually pay an access cost to use the facility and the cost for laying the link is recovered over a period of time, the faster money spinner being of course the retail of Broadband to Telecom Providers and customers

Hence the partnership between Mr. Richard Pardy, Mr. Michael Lee Chin and fellow Canadian Mr. John Risley, the principals shareholders in FLOW Jamaica Limited, whose investment is partly responsible for the cost decreases in International Voice and Data Calling that we are experiencing now.

Mr. Richard Pardy even made a prophetic statement, which Telecom Provider CLARO and LIME have fulfilled: “Up to now, you have not seen a competitive landscape developing in the delivery of Broadband. You won’t see a huge upswing in Broadband deployment until at least two strong Broadband competitors emerge.” Prophecy fulfilled by Telecom Providers CLARO and LIME………..only to be overturned by Dekal Wireless!

These movements by this silent shark-like predator company, a Shadow of the Former Empire, a reference to Telecom Provider AT&T and C&W style, has even Telecom Provider CLARO, the supposed Crown Prince of the little chronicled Wireless Internet Revolution, scrambling to have Netbooks being sold even in May Pen, Clarendon.

I, John Public, witnessed this for myself when I was at Amazing PC Offices chatting it up with the lovely staff and noticed that their flagship store in May Pen has suddenly begun selling Netbooks, after weeks of shortages of 3G modems and noticeable customer complaints about being overcharged on their modems.

As previously intoned in my blog article entitled “CLARO and its 3G Data Services - Inform people when they exceed their Overage”, this is an easy fix for CLARO via informing wireless Broadband customers via SMS when they are close to exceeding their Data Cap.

This as dropping the speed to EDGE (Enhanced Data Rate for GPRS Evolution) Service, albeit clever, may not be so easily noticed due to their lackluster 3G coverage, which they need to improve in light of the fact that even Digicel CEO David Linehan was quoted as saying “Digicel Broadband will on Day One cover 60 per cent of the population in all 14 parishes”.

Even Triple Play Provider FLOW is afraid of Dekal Wireless, having issued Wi-Fi (IEEE 802.11n) Routers to its customers to attach to their FLOW Cable Modems so as to utilize their Wired Broadband via Wi-Fi (IEEE 802.11n).

A logical move!

This seeing as they had already paid for one Internet Service, why shell out additional money for another wireless service?

Not to mention the fact that Dekal Wireless is actually using FLOW’s own low cost Broadband service, as they so often boast in the media to provision their now competitive service

Therefore, do not be surprised that Telecom Providers LIME, CLARO and Digicel begin slashing the prices on their own modems or even begin selling 3G-to-Wi-Fi (IEEE 802.11n) Routers or 3G-to-Wi-Fi (IEEE 802.11n) Routers on Monthly Plans in a desperate dash to beat out Dekal Wireless.

Once people get wind of the significant price difference and begin dropping the expensive Big Three (3) and their under-hyped overcharged Data Services to utilize Dekal Wireless forever expanding Wi-Fi (IEEE 802.11n) Empire.

Dekal already has the major towns island wide covered. Dekal Wireless, who should notice that a lot of these devices being sold by the Telecom Providers come with Wi-Fi (IEEE 802.11n), and Wi-Fi (IEEE 802.11n) is not disabled on these devices, must therefore be smiling. Smart phones are the fastest growing market for the Big Three (3) Telecom Providers.

Evident from the statements of the Conquering Lion Digicel Group CEO Colm Delves as stated in the article “Digicel looks beyond to expand its 32 markets”, published Friday June 25th 2010 by Al Edwards, The Jamaica Observer and backed up by the article “Telecom revenue hit record in September Q” published Wednesday July 7th 2010, The Jamaica Observer.

Thus the “success” (as John Public is willing to bet at the Jus Bet Sports Lounge) of Dekal Wireless is mainly due the unlocked Wi-Fi (IEEE 802.11n) features in the latest proliferation of smart phones from Mobile Handset manufacturers.

And more devices as coming enabled Wi-Fi (IEEE 802.11n) according to a report that ABI Research published in March 2010, stated in the article “Wi-Fi smart phones to dominate”, published March 23, 2010 3:01 AM PDT by Marguerite Reardon, CNET News - CTIA 2010.

The research firm, In-Stat, expands this further, however to a virtual armada of Wi-Fi (IEEE 802.11n) enabled devices. In-Stat postulates that with the prevalence of Wi-Fi (IEEE 802.11n) enabled smart phones, Netbooks and Laptops being projected to increase from five million (5,000,000) to sixty five million (65,000,000) by 2014

This is based on statistical Data collected from Research firm In-Stat in May 2010 as stated in the article “More people buying Wi-Fi enabled devices”, published May 4, 2010 10:03 AM PDT by Lance Whitney CNET News – Wireless

With the strongest growth area being smart phones, projected to be embedded in five hundred and fifteen million (515,000,000) such devices. Wi-Fi (IEEE 802.11n) is now creeping into other devices that never had Wi-Fi (IEEE 802.11n).

Devices such as 3-D HDTV’s set to launch this Summer of 2010 as stated in the article “Samsung, Panasonic start selling 3-D TV's this week”, published Tuesday March 9 2010, 11:04 am ET, By PETER SVENSSON, AP Technology Writer, AP, Yahoo! News

Game consoles, Receiver Boxes for Broadband Cable and even picture frames, a curious correlation to Telecom Provider AT&T’s plan to connect everything to their 3G, GSM and Wi-Fi (IEEE 802.11n) Networks as stated in the article “AT&T connects everything to its Network”, published March 24, 2010 6:55 PM PDT by Marguerite Reardon CNET News - CTIA 2010.  

To add further insult to injury, a Wi-Fi (IEEE 802.11n) modem retails for as little as JA$2,500 in Jamaica, so expect to see significant drops in the price of modems, be they 3G or WiMaX 4G Mobile from the Big Three (3) Telecom Providers as word-of-mouth spreads the news to those people with desktop computers but no built in Wi-Fi (IEEE 802.11n) modem, as it becoming clearer and clearer never to aggressively advertise Data Services.

This success also translates to a new medium for the proliferation of Broadcast Television and Radio, as now the smart phone becomes the new platform upon which to deliver media content, much as it is the case with Hulu for Television, now a paid service as stated in the article “Hulu launches $10 video subscription service”, published Tuesday June 29 2010 by RYAN NAKASHIMA, AP Business Writer, Yahoo! News.

As is already possible with Radio via Pandora, AOL Radio, Yahoo! Radio and Last.FM, all of which have apps for the Apple iPhone, Google Android and Blackberry as stated in the article “Smartphones make Mobile Radio sing”, published July 12, 2010, 11:49PM EST By Olga Kharif, DIGITAL ENTERTAINMENT, BloomBerg BusinessWeek.

An analyst, SNL Kagan, even went out on a limb and estimated that by 2015 Mobile Advertising will begin to generate the equivalent amount of money as Internet Advertising via traditional websites currently does for Radio Stations, doubling from US$480 million in 2009 to US$1 billion by 2015.

These are pretty strong estimates for an analyst I have never heard of and it would be interested if a similar development is taking place in Jamaica, based on information garnered from a local independent analyst.

Jamaica being a country which lags behind the United States of America in the adoption of Technology Trends by two (2) years on average, now that the JDX (Jamaica Debt Exchange) has set the stage for a recovery from the Global Recession in the next seven (7) years.

Based on the increasing screen size of smart phones, such as the HTC 4G EVO and the HTC Droid Incredible and the Motorola Droid X, soon be rechristened the Motorola Mainstream 4G (thought this name is subject to change!!) and launched by Telecom Provider Digicel during Sumfest 2010, Mobile Internet is set to take off, with Dekal Wireless being a catalyst.

Much in the same way that newspapers are saved by the Apple iPad, Radio Broadcasting and Television can go Mobile via apps downloaded that enable streaming and can be said to be effectively saved by a combination of Municipal Wi-Fi (IEEE 802.11n) Networks and 3G and 4G Networks from the Big Three (3) Telecom Providers now dogs fighting over the few bones currently up for grabs.

Radios Broadcasters would do well to have Developers make downloadable apps for both the Apple Apps Store as well as Google Android MarketPlace to allow users to download the app for their respective Radio Stations as IRIE FM, a local popular Reggae Radio Station has done.

Thus allowing them to not only stream their favorite Radio Stations as download podcasts and video casts but also make additional revenue not only from Mobile Advertising.

Geo-location based Advertising as sure as rain is coming, guaranteeing them immortality in the changing media landscape, now that the People’s Republic of China is in Town……………..XOXO.


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