My Thoughts on Technology and Jamaica: FLOW and 100 MBps Wired Broadband - Gossip Girl

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

FLOW and 100 MBps Wired Broadband - Gossip Girl

The thing that numbs the heart is this:
That Men cannot devise
Some scheme of life to banish fear
That lurks in most Men’s eyes

James Norman Hall, Fear

Spotted: Triple Play Provider FLOW CEO Michelle English’s racked with fear, with the recent announcement of yet another speed bump to - get this - 100MBps, as per the article “FLOW to bring 100Mbs to Jamaican homes”, published Saturday October 16 2010, The Jamaica Observer.

But fear of what?

Or am I mistaking fear for renewed self-confidence? What could drive a Triple Play Provider to increase it speed so fast in such large increments in such a short space of time?

Remember, gentle people, Triple Play Provider FLOW had increased their speed to 12MBps and 20MBps for their two highest speed packages, up from the previous 8MBps and 15Mbps; that was less than one week and four days (1 week, 4 days) ago as suggested by the date of the article “FLOW ups Internet speed offering again”, published Wednesday, October 06, 2010, The Jamaica Observer, which was on Wednesday, October 06th , 2010 AD. Yes, it is THAT big a deal, folks.

Wait, it gets better! Jamaica’s Internet penetration is only 17% of households as stated in the article “Internet penetration lagging broadband speed”, published Wednesday, September 22, 2010 by CAMILO THAME Business co-ordinator, The Jamaica Observer

There is no significant demand of a 100MBps service to even justify the speed bump, based on prior utterances of Triple Play Provider FLOW Marketing Director, Sharon Roper on Wednesday, September 22nd, 2010: “Businesses are already getting those speeds; We definitely will bring 100MBps to households but our priority right now is to get broadband Internet into as many Jamaican households as possible”.

That was about three weeks and four days (3 weeks 4 days) ago! Strange indeed: Carletta DeLeon aka The Pet Tales Chick aka “Dilly” of Smile Jamaica fame on Television Jamaica must be ecstatic, jumping up an down, albeit I will sit quiet and wait to see what Tech Tutorial, also on Smile Jamaica, which will air tomorrow on Tuesday October 19 2010 AD, will pronounce upon us this wonder in Jamaica.

One thing is for certain, they are now using DOCSIS 3.0 a software protocol upgrade (note the usage of the word “upgrade”, more later!!) from DOCSIS 2.0, as DOCSIS 2.0 maxes out at 30MBps. People, again I say: 100Mbps service in a Third World Country. Jesus, assuming he actually exists, may actually be coming by Christmas 2010 AD!!

ONLY in the South Korea, Japan and the United States of America, specifically Triple Play Providers such as CableVision, ComCast and Cox Communications, have I head of such broadband speeds as stated in the article “100MBps broadband may be closer than you think”, published March 8, 2010 4:00 AM PST by Marguerite Reardon, CNET News - Signal Strength.

Even Telecom Provider Verizon, which already has a 50MBps service, has no plans to implement a 100MBps, according to an article by CNET News Reporter Maugerite  Reardon, due to the same aforementioned low demand, albeit they have begun testing a 1GBps service as stated in the article “Verizon demos 1 GBps FIOS connection”, published August 16, 2010 2:55 PM PDT by Marguerite Reardon, CNET News - Signal Strength.

So Jamaica is truly unique, as like the People’s Republic of Trinidad and Tobago, Residential Customers are in an exclusive 100MBps Club along with Businesses, in a country where the Telecoms Sector is yet to experience the joys of full liberalization as stated in the article “Internet penetration lagging broadband speed”, published Wednesday, September 22, 2010 by CAMILO THAME Business co-ordinator, The Jamaica Observer. So this move is indeed beyond strange: it truly belongs in the realm of The Twilight Zone (TV Series 1959–1964) humming tune).

I am happy for the geek squad and the techie peeps [technoratie], the main source of piracy in Jamaica as far as I am concerned, their eyes gleaming with delight at the larger serving of chocolate ice cream with none of the guilt of paying extra (right?). I am just a casual browser and reader of online articles, not to mention a blogger.

John Public, however, is not buying the explanation being proffered as with the above mentioned information at hand, as it does not add up. Historically, in the Broadband Internet Market, Telecom Providers, on hearing credible news of the coming of another Telecom Provider with a (possibly) faster service offering, will increase their speed offering or decrease their prices, whichever is more feasible.

It is also usually a response to any signs of increased churn, or Customers leaving the Network, usually in droves larger than 10% of their thirty (30) day subscription Customer base. But as Triple Play Provider FLOW only problem is the continued theft of the Digital Amplifiers, a rather expensive theft, costing the company US$1000 per amplifier as per the article “FLOW's pace slows - But Broadcasting Commission ok with Network delay”, published Friday August 28, 2009 by Mark Titus, The Jamaica Gleaner, and they already had the fastest Wired Broadband service at a whopping 15MBps, their actions still seems strange.

Their other problems are mostly due to the disparity between Wired and Wireless Broadband and the merits and demerits of which Customers are well aware, mainly to do with cost and access to the service, which explains their slow expansion across Jamaica. Fears of customers watching less television and becoming time-shifters have been mitigated by offering DVR, lower package offering and Wi-Fi (IEEE 802.11n) router packages to customers.

Even so, when one factors in the fact that the last time they had a speed bump was in July 2008, months before the inaugural launch of Telecom Provider CLARO and their 3G Network, involving a speed increase form 8MBps to 15MBps

Thus one begins to get a picture of a company that may be afraid not of the present Wireless Broadband Landscape, but of the future power of Wireless Broadband and its potential, namely 3G (HSDPA), 4G (LTW and WiMax) and most formidable of all, Municipal Wi-Fi (IEEE 802.11n).

Now with “Super” Municipal Wi-Fi (IEEE 802.11n) fever about to catch on in the United States of America thanks to the opening up of “White” Space Frequencies, on offer Spectrum license free as per the dictate of FCC (Federal Communications Commission) Chairman Julius Genachowski 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.

Americans, seriously though, you need to make a statue to FCC (Federal Communications Commission) Chairman Julius Genachowski; he is a real American Hero, G.I. Joe Style. John Public puts on his super sleuth hat as he investigates the possible reason for Triple Play Provider FLOW CEO Michelle English aka “Dallas”, resorting to her guns.

Who is to fear for the dramatic speed bump here in Jamaica? Possibly Telecom Provider CLARO. Rumours are swirling in tech circles that they may be going LTE (Long Term Evolution), following on the heels of the LTE deployment upgrade announcements by their partners in crime Telecom Provider Verizon and Telecom Provider AT&T as stated in the article “AT&T, Verizon execs talk LTE expansion”, published September 16, 2010 11:05 PM PDT by Kent German, CNET News - Dialed In.

Telecom Provider AT&T supplies Telecom Provider Telcel in Mexico with the Apple iPhone 4.0 and are the owners of the CLARO brand name. As Jamaica is the English-speaking guinea pig for Telecom Provider Telcel, both in terms of Huawei GSM equipment and 3G, maybe they could upgrade the software on the BBU (Base Band Units) of the 3G (HSDPA 7.2) to LTE, as they are close protocol siblings of 3GPP involving just simply higher QAM (Quadrature Amplitude Modulation) levels.

Thus a switch or change-out or swap, whichever verb you prefer, is not required, merely a software upgrade, hence the use of the word “upgrade”. Christmas looking rather bright for Telecom Provider CLARO? Stay tuned.

Then again, on my list of speculation, it could be Telecom Provider LIME, with their “more G” HSDPA 7.2 3G Network as per the utterance of Chairman Christopher Dehring aka DJ Chris in the articles on LIME TV as stated in the article “LIME TV on the Horizon”, published Sunday, September 19, 2010 by ALICIA ROACHE Sunday Finance reporter, The Jamaica Observer and Mobile TV as stated in the article “LIME goes Mobile TV”, published Saturday August 28th by Christopher Serju, Gleaner Writer, The Jamaica Gleaner.

With the Telecom Provider LIME schedule to light the candles for their 3G Network in Christmas of 2010 in Montego Bay, a stronghold of Triple Play Provider FLOW  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 Jamaica Gleaner, that maybe another explanation of the mysterious speed bump and protocol upgrade.

Mobile TV, if delivered on the right type of mobile phones, specifically smart phones with 4” AMOLED screens, 1080p resolution with support for HDMI and mini-USB, such as the current crop of 3G enabled smart phones running Google Android at the right price, which would be anything less than JA$2500 for a thirty (30) day subscription, would seriously give Triple Play Provider FLOW a run for their money.

Throw in the possibility that Telecom Provider LIME may also be upgrading to LTE by Christmas of 2010 and offering the Google TV Platform on a Panasonic or Sony set top box to run their LIME TV offering at such as low initial introductory price watchable on either Google powered device, inclusive of my idea, the fab new Apple iPad, effectively a “TV Anywhere” concept, and you get a good picture of Triple Play Provider FLOW apparent paranoia.

Wayne Chen and Lee’s owned Municipal Wi-Fi (IEEE 802.11n) Networks Dekal Wireless [a Droid] 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. Not to mention the upstart Nubian-1 Tech Services Ltd [Princess Amidala’s Royal starship] as stated in the article “Another small player emerges in the wireless broadband market”, published Friday August 2 2010 by Mark Titus, gleaner Writer, The Jamaica Gleaner are also spotted with ambitious plans in mind.

This one is simply the coming of “Super” Wi-Fi (IEEE 802.11n), but this is dependent heavily on the Broadcasting Commission, currently on the Road to Damascus, seeing the light and coming to their senses and realizing the hidden financial potential of going HDTV via a DSO (Digital Switch Over) 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 includes the Big Three (3) Broadcasters, namely RJR Communications Group, the CVM Communications Group and LOVE Radio/TV selling their spectrum to Telecom Providers, both Local and Foreign.

“White” Space Frequencies would be the crumbs that would fall from the Big Three (3) Telecom Providers table to the small Municipal Wi-Fi (IEEE 802.11n) Networks, the in-between frequencies of the NTSC standard channels that no-one else wants.

But these frequencies are prized for their incredible reach, being little impeded by metallic structures, hence the “super” prefix.

Despite the “no modem required” advantage of Municipal Wi-Fi (IEEE 802.11n) Networks, they are currently of little threat until DSO and “White” Space Frequencies auctions, hopefully also spectrum license free, happens. For now Triple Play Provider is safe – for now.

But in my opinion, by far the real 800 pound gorilla in the room, is Telecom Provider Digicel and their Digicel Broadband 4G. Since launching in the week of Sunday August 15th 2010 AD as stated in the article “Digicel goes 4G”, published Saturday, August 21, 2010 By ROSS SHEIL Online co-ordinator The Jamaica Observer

Telecom Provider Digicel have sputtered a bit since launch, with overwhelming demand for their Wireless Broadband offering, mainly due to the fact that they provisioned a minimum of T1 per site based on anticipated traffic, with a plan to add more T1 as the traffic gradually increased.

However, along with the gaffe by so-called CEO of WiMax Alex Boothroyd in mentioning that Telecom Provider Digicel would be launching ONLY with modems, CPE (Customer Premises Equipment) and laptops only as stated in the article “Digicel all set to unveil 4G Broadband offering”, published Friday, August 13, 2010 by AL EDWARDS, The Jamaica Observer.

Which, really, was a fear of people using Wayne Chen and Lee’s owned Municipal Wi-Fi (IEEE 802.11n) Networks Dekal Wireless and the up and coming Nubian-1 Tech Services Limited and their brash, loud advertising of their service via the various Media.

Not surprisingly, the traffic quickly piled on and Customers first taste was initially bad, with complaints of speeds below that of CLARO 3G and threats of disconnection, based on unconfirmed anecdotal reports, mostly by spurious TechJamaica groupies, still looking to download illegal Copyright Infringing Content contrary to their contracts as opposed to using the Internet to learn.

However, this is set to improve soon, as Telecom Provider Digicel, based on their internal metrics collected, will have to re-audit their Network and provision enough capacity to guarantee 10MBps best effort.

This is a move that may possibly involve:

  1. Installation of Fiber Optic cables to interconnect all of their mobile sites
  2. Placing both Voice and Data Traffic on this Fiber Optic Network
  3. A possible software upgrade by contractor ZTE Corp of China to lower latency 120MBps capable WiMax 2 (IEEE 802.16m)

WiMax 2 (IEEE 802.16m) is soon to be ratified in November 2010 as stated in the article “WiMax 2 standard gets date for approval”, published August 16, 2010 1:19 PM PDT by Jack Clark, CNET News - Wireless, with full ratification by the IEEE Standards Association and device certification coming in 2011 AD.

An alternate option is that they could use Triple Play Provider FLOW as “backhaul” as the Americans call it, to interconnect their mobile towers, which may be another explanation of the speed bump, as a software upgrade to DOCSIS 3.0 enables the 100MBps capability that makes their service suitable not only for businesses.

Other Telecom Providers as suitable high bandwidth interconnectivity, as currently some parts of Telecom Provider CLARO Network are connected back to the MSC (Mobile Switching Center) located in New Kingston, the same location as the Head Office, in their basement, via Triple Play Provider FLOW. This is not even mentioning the potential threat of piracy.

Speculation abound, as computer ownership and hence demand could not have increased so significantly for the services in such a short space of time after an initial speed bump, especially as Triple Play Provider FLOW’s actions are counter to the logic of Triple Play Provider FLOW Marketing Director, Sharon Roper as it relates to the influence of market forces on the pricing of their products.

This story is worth following folks, as nonetheless, this is a historic event, whatever the real reason: 100MBps Wired Broadband in a Third World Country like Jamaica. Wait till Google gets wind of this…….XOXO.

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