My Thoughts on Technology and Jamaica: CLARO, FLOW and Municipal Wi-Fi IEEE 802.11n - Battlestar Galactica

Thursday, October 28, 2010

CLARO, FLOW and Municipal Wi-Fi IEEE 802.11n - Battlestar Galactica

Give a man a pipe he can smoke,
Give a man a book he can read:
And his home is bright with calm delight,
Though the room be poor indeed.

James Thomson, Sunday Up the River

As this submission by Regional Vice-President for Legal, Regulatory and Corporate Affairs, Camille Taylor to the FTC (Fair Trading Commission) complaining of misrepresentation of their true designation of Digicel Broadband 4G Networks as stated in the article “4G Quarrel”, published Wednesday October 27, 2010 by Mark Titus, Business Reporter, The Jamaica Gleaner may take a while, one thing is indeed for certain: Wi-Fi (IEEE 802.11n) is on the move.

They [Municipal Wi-Fi Networks] need no modems to sell, and their services is at a lower pricing point than even Digicel Broadband 4G, which by the way, based on anecdotal information aka “word on the street” as well as the rants of those troubled young ‘uns on that most unpopular of forums TechJamaica, is not even delivering above 3G speeds.

Thus, it makes the accusation by Telecom Provider LIME carry weight, at least in the Court of Public Opinion, where it REALLY counts and indicates that Digicel CEO Mark Linehan is not being entirely truthful as to his claim as stated in the article “'4G is 10 times faster than 3G', says Digicel Boss”, published Monday August 23, 2010, The Jamaica Gleaner.

Perhaps Digicel CEO Mark Linehan believes that they can “advertise” and obfuscate their way into the minds of customers so as to make them believe that what they are getting is 4G speeds, when it is not, as US$22.7 million cannot provision a full fledged 4G Network. It’s more like US$250 million, actually.

So we Jamaicans observe the spectacle or distraction, whichever be thy grammatical foible, of Triple Play Provider FLOW offering faster packages as stated in the article “FLOW to bring 100Mbs to Jamaican homes”, published Saturday October 16 2010, The Jamaica Observer and Telecom Provider CLARO retaliating like the Rebel Warriors and the Ewoks in the Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back (1980), still with no clear indication in sight as to what may be spurring the demand.

Nothing other than the POSSIBLE coming lower prices of Netbooks, Laptops and smart phones this Christmas in the United States of America thanks to the Apple iPad and its would be assassins and the plethora of smart phones running various loveable OS, such as Apple iOS, Google Android, Palm Web OS and Star Wars: Return of the Jedi (1983) reanimation of Microsoft Windows Phone 7.

Driving prices low enough so that we mere mortals can afford to treat ourselves this Christmas 2010 AD!

Irregardless, Christmas in Jamaica nice again, folks! So what else could it be? Is this entire episode a smokescreen to attack the real enemy, that being the up and coming Municipal Wi-Fi (IEEE 802.11n) Networks?

Telecom Provider Digicel knows what they need to do: purchase and enabling/provisioning of T1’s for Internet Access to their MGW (Media Gateway) and thus the WiMaX enabled Tower Infrastructure. Throw in plans to Fiber out their entire Network, a contract possibly worth US$200 million dollars, a figure that would make any large scale Fiber Optics Installer drool, or as we say in our colourful Jamaican patios, “drain mout’ wata’”; Mad Money (2008), as per the movie.

Problem solved, not to mention a cure-all for the lackluster speeds and the beating that this new product is getting on the street, thanks to Telecom Provider Digicel’s over exuberance in advertising their service.

In their greed to attract customers, without realizing that the IEEE (Institute of Electronics and Electrical Engineers) Open Architecture nature of most of their Protocols, means that every parameter of their Open Architecture equipment is adjustable, inclusive of their contention ratio, or the maximum number of UE (User Equipment) that can log on to any tower at a given time.

Provisioning more T1 and going Fiber Optic for Mobile Tower Interconnectivity or “backhaul” as our American telecommunications cousins are wont to call it, instead of depending on unreliable Microware Radio Links.

This would not only allow Digicel Broadband 4G to deliver 10MBps best effort and provide 100MBps best effort reliably, but also avoid the FTC quibble, as this time, a public fight will turn against them, as the Court of Public opinion, albeit favoring Telecom Provider Digicel, is siding with the cold hard black-and-white logic of Telecom Provider LIME, as the complaints about Digicel Broadband 4G are mounting.

At least we are yet to see anyone burning effigy of the Telecom Providers in the street, as the Internet Citizens, or Netizens, are a rabble rousing lot, evident from their inflammatory and anti-establishment stance expressed on TechJamaica.

Thus, a recalculation of the T1 provisioning per WiMaX enabled Mobile Tower may also be in order, as it may also be the case that not enough were provisioned for the level of expected traffic – or should that be unexpected?

 This is a daunting task, as assuming 60% geographic coverage island wide, mathematically this could translate to as many as 60% of the one thousand six hundred (1600) Mobile towers being configured with WiMaX 4G Fixed (IEEE 802.16a) and WiMaX 4G Mobile (IEEE 802.16d, e) Node B’s. 

This makes estimating traffic levels and provisioning of T1’s a logistical headache, made simple by installation of a Fiber Optic Network, which both guarantees easy scalable T1 provisioning on demand as well as a more reliable Network, even during inclement weather, such as hurricanes, common to the Caribbean Region.

Telecom Provider CLARO is currently in the process of changing out their Alcatel-Lucent Radios for radios that have DAC cards with higher T1 capacity, as per my prediction when I was still employed at Telecom Provider CLARO as a RF Technician (2008 to 2009), as (silly rabbit!), any augmentation of the Network would require more capacity.

Especially with their declaration of going LTE (Long Term Evolution), which, too, is not 4G either, according to the ITU (International Telecommunications Union) as stated in the article “4G: What's in a name?”, published October 21, 2010 12:42 PM PDT by Marguerite Reardon, CNET News - Signal Strength.

Going Fiber Optic is also recommended for them, as QoS (Quality of Service) cannot be guaranteed using Microwave Radio Links alone, especially as they may seek to retail LTE to businesses or (most likely) use it to provision Remote Municipal Wi-Fi (IEEE 802.11n) using Hotspots.

This in turn means that Customers will demand more reliable Internet Interconnectivity as their businesses become more reliant on Broadband. Data Services, once seen as a VAS by Telecom Provider CLARO, must now get more priority than the Voice Services, a prediction I used to get maligned for while working as a Network Maintenance Technician at Telecom Provider C&W, now LIME (2001 to 2004).

The Battle has begun as Fiber Optic, the expensive step child of Telecommunications, is now a must, much as it is the medium for communication onboard the BattleStar Galactica (2004) in the series of the same name. Throw in Solar Power and QoS is guaranteed in the absolute, as 4G and higher Network require more stable, reliable, Noise Free Electrical Power, otherwise they become uneconomical to operate. 

Hence Telecom Provide LIME, which mostly has its Mobile Towers interconnected via Fiber Optic or Copper based T1’s it has to upgrade to Fiber Optic, albeit slow in their 3G build out, is likened to the Tortoise in the Aesop fable, the Tortoise and the Hare: slow and steady wins the Race.

Especially as Small Telecom Providers, mainly Municipal Wi-Fi (IEEE 802.11n) Networks such as Dekal Wireless and Nubian-1 Tech Services Limited may soon be receiving a gift of spectrum license free “White” Space Frequencies. This is akin to the decision of FCC (Federal Communications Commission) Chairman Julius Genachowski in the United States of America as stated in the article “FCC to open up vacant TV airwaves for broadband”, published Monday September 13, 12:35 am ET By JOELLE TESSLER, AP Technology Writer, Yahoo! News.

Now officially confirmed in the article “FCC officially frees TV white space spectrum”, published Thursday September 23 2010, CNET News. Already, Dekal Wireless is beating Digicel Broadband 4G on pricing alone, the main lever to move in a Data War.

This of course, is after the Broadcasting Commission Chairman Cordel Green, finalizes a soon coming decision on Technology Selection (please let it be DVB-T!!) as it relates to DSO (Digital Switch Over) for the Big Three (3) Free-to-air Television and Radio Broadcasters 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 Writer, The Jamaica Gleaner.

This fateful decision would swing the proverbial pendulum and thus the balance of power in favour of the Municipal Wi-Fi (IEEE 802.11n) Networks, possible the TRUE reason why Triple Play Provider FLOW and Telecom Provider CLARO are pushing the 100MBps barrier.

Like Dekal Wireless and Nubian-1 Tech Services, Triple Play Provider FLOW and Telecom Provider CLARO too could use their 100MBps Wired and Wireless services respectively to provision Remote Municipal Wi-Fi (IEEE 802.11n) Networks.

Possibly using hotspot masts mounted as Dekal Wireless currently does or an even more novel approach, which is using Registered Taxis fitted with a Mobile Node B for Remote Municipal Wi-Fi (IEEE 802.11n). Taxi men benefiting by being paid money to host the Node B for Remote Municipal Wi-Fi (IEEE 802.11n) in their motor vehicles!

Only this time, the Remote Municipal Wi-Fi (IEEE 802.11n) would be enabled with the power of unhindered long range “White” Space Frequency, capable of ranges of up to 31km, spectrum license free. The “Internet of Things” is coming, folks, as Netbooks, Laptops and even smart phones come standard with Wi-Fi (IEEE 802.11n) as per the prognostications of Analyst In-Stat 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.

As to the source of my information, it is because I read – rather widely too, both trusted online resources relating to consumer electronics, statistics and analysts and as well as from books, be they paperback, hardcover or e-books, the future format of books. This is as most Telecom Providers provide only basic Equipment Vendor related training for their technical staff, leaving you to fill the gap with certification, experimentation – and yes, reading.

Contrary to what people working in any Industry will tell you, the Theory is actually 90% of work, the 10% being Practical – believe it or not. Reading is the source of all knowledge, not hearsay, working by example or gossip, be it co-worker driven or online.

Thus, great skill is required to sift through mountains of information and for this, first, one MUST have a voracious love of reading any and all material, whether or not it is relate to one’s field. After a while, you will get very good at predicting the future, especially after years of reading and trend spotting. More time.

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