My Thoughts on Technology and Jamaica: Digicel and WiMax 4G Mobile - The remains of the Day

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Digicel and WiMax 4G Mobile - The remains of the Day

Nothing except a battle lost can be half so melancholy as a battle won

Duke of Wellington, Dispatch, 1815

It seems that Telecom Provider is already throwing punches with its upcoming and much anticipated launch of its WiMaX 4G Mobile (IEEE 802.16d) Broadband Network.

Despite an uncertainty displayed by CEO of WiMaX Alex Boothroyd as stated in the article “Will 4G revolutionize wireless Broadband for Jamaicans: Digicel says yes”, published Sunday 15th August 2010 by Mark Titus, Business Reporter, The Jamaica Gleaner in the supply of Netbooks, Laptops and modems, also called dongles and an uncanny unease with regards to its chances of beating Dekal Wireless, the Municipal Wi-Fi (IEEE 802.11n) Network.

No surprise there, or with his comments in a previous article “Digicel all set to unveil 4G Broadband offering”, published Friday, August 13, 2010 by AL EDWARDS, The Jamaica Observer, in which the WiMaX CEO, Alex Boothroyd stated that Telecom Provider Digicel is launching ONLY with Netbooks, Laptops and 4G-to-Wi-Fi(IEEE 802.11n) Routers or Mobile hotspots, more popularly called Mi-Fi, similar to ones by Telecom Provider Verizon to provide Wi-Fi (IEEE 802.11n) to “jail broken” Apple iPhones.

As I had pointed out in my blog article entitled “Digicel and WiMaX 4G Mobile - Barbarians at the Gates” , there is a growing trend of smart phones, Netbooks and Laptops and other devices including 3-D HDTV coming with:

  1. Wi-Fi (IEEE 802.11n)
  2. Wi-Fi Direct for mobile hotspot creation from mobile devices (“tethering”) and an Open Architecture Bluetooth replacement
  3. WiGig, an ultra fast wireless competitor to WirelessHD

These technologies are described in the articles:

  1. Wi-Fi smart phones to dominate”, published March 23, 2010 3:01 AM PDT by Marguerite Reardon, CNET News - CTIA 2010
  2. More people buying Wi-Fi enabled devices”, published May 4, 2010 10:03 AM PDT by Lance Whitney, CNET News - Wireless.

Throw in the Apple iPad and the Apple iPhone into the spin cycle, and Telecom Provider Digicel is going to be spun dry, begging for the New Year to come, no matter what propaganda they wish to push out, as most people will also notice that the side effect of the Apple iPad Effect is lower Netbook prices as computer and chip makers chase the White Whale with their own tablet and eReaders.

Demand for Netbooks, Laptops and PC will go weak, thus lowering the price of these otherwise costly contraptions to levels that even I can afford to pay as stated in article “Demand Dichotomy: PC's Down, iPad Up”, published August 11, 2010 3:58 PM PDT by Brooke Crothers, CNET News Nanotech - The Circuits Blog.

Even CEO Jeff Bezos’ Amazon Kindle, which I shall call a Black Panther, is stomping the yard with its cheaper pricing point and amazing book compilation that puts it miles ahead in terms of book sales as stated in the article “Soaring e-book sales speak volumes”, published Sunday August 1, 1:54 am ET by Peter Brieger, Yahoo! News.

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos sums up what I have long suspected best in these simple statistics laden words spoken in July 2010: “ customers now purchase more Kindle books than hardcover books - astonishing when you consider that we've been selling hardcover books for 15 years, and Kindle books for 33 months”.

Yep, e-books, long being the dark stepchild of publishing, are back, so at least novels, periodicals and Newspapers to some extent are saved by this device, now with a GSM and Wi-Fi (IEEE 802.11n) version as stated in the article “Amazon unveils 3rd-generation Kindle e-book reader”, published Sunday August 1st 2010 by Edward C. Baig, USA TODAY, making support for its adoption by a local Telecom Provider in Jamaica a snap.

Another side effect of the Apple iPad and the Amazon Kindle Effect is creating a tornado for e-book piracy as people have now, pardon the pun, rekindled their love for reading books, only on a new platform that is portable and convenient. And both the Apple iPad and the Amazon Kindle, as mentioned above support Wi-Fi (IEEE 802.11n), with support for 3G and 4G (LTE and WiMaX) coming in product refreshes, next year January at WWDC (World Wide Developer Conference).

So I guess I must apologize. It is not only Telecom Provider Digicel that is screwed, it is also Telecom Provider CLARO, who have already begun dropping their prices in anticipation of the launch of Digicel WiMaX 4G Mobile (IEEE 802.16d) Broadband Network

Telecom Provider LIME appears to be stuck making grandiose statements in public to create the impression that they are doing work, such as planning to reach MoBay with 3G as stated in the article as stated in the article “LIME to build $40m 3G network for Montego Bay”, published Sunday June 27, 2010, by Janet Silvera, Senior Gleaner Writer, The Jamaica Gleaner.

Telecom Provider LIME also announced investments as stated in the article “LIME makes US$100m in investment”, published Wednesday, August 11, 2010 By CAMILO THAME Business co-ordinator, The Jamaica Observer and launching their Wireless Subscriber Television Service. It is rumoured to be carrying content from DirectTV as stated in the article “LIME TV launching by yearend”, published Wednesday,  August 11, 2010 By CAMILO THAME Business co-ordinator The Jamaica Observer which at the pace they are moving, will all be achievable by Christmas 2010 albeit having launched in September of 2008.

This would explain CEO of WiMaX Alex Boothroyd confidence at beating bureaucracy laden competitors in the form of Telecom Provider LIME and Telecom Provider CLARO but his caution in the face of a truly nimble, the price-centric, efficient Dekal Wireless and its Municipal Wi-Fi (IEEE 802.11n) Network

For the uninitiated, it is based on my design and only took six (6) months and approximately US$15 million for Wayne Chen and his Chinese Dragons to plan and build and offer speeds that are in the order of 4Mbps to 10 Mbps. This is all dependent on the amount of head-end that Dekal Wireless’ Wayne Chen and his Chinese Dragons, wealthy Chinese Business owners as stated  in the article “Wayne Chen, Lees enter Wireless Broadband Market”, published Friday July 30th 2010 by Mark Titus, Business Reporter, The Jamaica Gleaner, are wiling to add to their network as they expand island wide

They have made it clear that they intend to provide low cost “Super Wi-Fi” island wide at prices that are very competitive, eliminating the need to purchase a modem. From Super Plus to Super “Wi-Fi”……….good move………!!

Telecom Provider Digicel, Telecom Provider LIME and Telecom Provider CLARO will surely have to start dropping prices on their modem and the monthly cost of their service for a thirty (30) Day Data Plan, the bread-and-butter of any Data Wireless Provider, in order to stay competitive, as Dekal Wireless charges JA$2400.00 for a thirty (30) Day Data Plan and their data is unlimited, something which Telecom Providers will have to mimic.

Then they will have to start matching Dekal Wireless in terms of speed by probably going to higher speeds in terms of upgrading to LTE (Long Term Evolution) or WiMaX, as Wi-Fi (IEEE 802.11n) offers speeds of up to 300 MBps theoretical and a radius of 200 m

By comparison, WiMaX 4G Fixed (IEEE 802.16a) has a speeds of 80 Mbps theoretical but with the advantage of a radius of over 30 km, both of them of course not offering handover.  Wi-Fi (IEEE 802.11n) is capable of doing it as Wi-Fi Routers, akin to GPS-enabled mobile phones, are often used for geo-location services once enabled and WiMaX 4G Mobile (IEEE 802.16d) is also handover capable, along with 3G and LTE.

The Telecom Providers would also do well to put aside their bickering over access rights to cell sites and establish a common lock systems on their cell sites and establish RFID (Radio Frequency Identifications) based Access with cameras for its contractors and workers, so as to allow for co-location on cell towers and thus result in each Telecom Provider being able to expand their coverage area.

Also, the purchase of more T1’s needs to be accelerated, as it is usually two (2) years before trends in the United States of America, like a bad cold, begin to catch on here in Jamaica among our public, who like Americans and unlike culture shocked Mexicans are quality conscious people who like the best of everything, even though we like to cut deals.

Telecom Providers LIME and CLARO may even have to consider going WiMaX 4G Mobile (IEEE 802.16d) and selling mobile phones with the capability to rebroadcast Wi-Fi (IEEE 802.11n), effectively “tethering” as the Americans call it, a plan that ClearWire is considering in the United States of America as stated in the article “Sprint, ClearWire CEO's ponder LTE for the future”, published March 24, 2010 12:01 PM PDT by Marguerite Reardon, CNET News - CTIA 2010.

Telecom Provider Digicel, Telecom Provider LIME and Telecom Provider CLARO only chance, however, to COMPLETELY to defeat Dekal Wireless and its Municipal Wi-Fi (IEEE 802.11n) Network is to build their own Municipal Wi-Fi (IEEE 802.11n) Network jointly and become resellers of Prepaid Internet Access with their own distinct cards at similar or competitive prices to each other.

This is the case with ClearWire, a WiMaX 4G Mobile (IEEE 802.16d) Network in the United States of America that is a joint investment between Sprint Nextel, Comcast, Intel, Time Warner Cable, and Bright House Networks.

These investors are investing in WiMaX 4G Mobile (IEEE 802.16d) as a competing technology to 3G and its descendant LTE in a bid to offer Wireless Data Services in order to future-proof themselves and ride this latest trend for always-available Data Services as stated in the article “Report: Clearwire gets more cash from investors”, published November 9, 2009 10:56 AM PST by Marguerite Reardon, CNET News - Signal Strength.

These local Telecom Providers must by now realize that Data Services are completely different from Voice Services, as there is no competitive Cross Network Calling akin to Voice Calling Service, at least not yet, as people have not yet taken to touch screen phones and Video Calling and are thus not yet demanding Cross Network Video Calling Services or complaining about Cross Network Video Calling Rates.

Data Services are about availability of service, pricing, reliability and to a lesser extent speed and more about the user experience, as despite any fancy marketing campaign, the word will eventually get out with regards to the pricing and speed of a Telecom Provider’s Network and Jamaicans, ever on the prowl for a good bargain, will seek the cheapest deals wherever they can find them.

Telecom Provider Digicel may feel that the battle is won and assuredly theirs from a coverage point of view against its closest rivals, but unless it jointly develops a Municipal Wi-Fi (IEEE 802.11n) strategy soon with same rivals, its melancholy defeat by the ever expanding Dekal Wireless and it invisible army of Wi-Fi (IEEE 802.11n) enabled devices will make any early victory bittersweet if not pyrrhic.

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