My Thoughts on Technology and Jamaica: LIME vs Digicel - The Truth About Charlie

Monday, November 8, 2010

LIME vs Digicel - The Truth About Charlie

Rumour is a pipe
Blown by surmises, jealousies, conjectures

Shakespeare, Henry IV, II, Induction

Digicel CEO Mark Linehan is at it again, this time with his Blowpipe he has hung on his mantle piece in his office, a gift from his visit to South Africa (Hint?).

This time he is blowing so much smoke, even I am getting to be confused by their media obfuscation, based on how you interpret the article “Digicel sets the record straight on 4G”, published Friday, November 05, 2010 By Al Edwards, The Jamaica Observer.

Telecom Provider Digicel has not set any record straight, as the heavily technical article, unusual style for a Jamaica Observer writer, appears manufactured.

In fact, it may actually be nothing more than an adoration or flattery piece paid for by Jamaica Observer Newspaper owner and Jamaican Hotel Mogul Gordon “Butch” Stewart in support of Telecom Provider Digicel, who by the way is one of their major advertisers in their daily newspaper and sponsors of many of their events, such as the Observer Food Awards and Fashion Night Out.

Good thing Irishman Liam Sheely decided to leave Telecom Provider Digicel for Triple Play Provider FLOW, literally greener pastures, as it is becoming apparent that Telecom Provider Digicel, despite their popularity with Customers, is legally in the wrong, as per the very first appearance of this argument.

This time in the unbiased Jamaica Gleaner as per the article “4G Quarrel”, published Wednesday October 27, 2010 by Mark Titus, Gleaner Reporter, The Jamaica Gleaner.

After all, what could have me up at this hour ruminating, cranking out anther blog article when I could be asleep, were it not another interesting tiff and back and forth SMS or text messages with friends in the know who work among The Young and the Restless Big Three (3) Telecoms Providers, bad spelling and all, a never ending soap opera?

Their [Telecom Provider Digicel] latest response in what is effectively a challenge to Mortal Kombat (1995) (as per my last blog article!) by Telecom Provider LIME, specifically the FTC (Fair Trading Commission) filing of charges of false advertising by Regional Vice-President for Legal, Regulatory and Corporate Affairs, Camille Taylor nee Facey.

This article is a lot like the media distortion field as obvious from Triple Play Provider FLOW CEO Michelle “Dallas” English  exclusive interview with Gleaner Reporter Janet Silvera detailed in the must read article “Flowing fastest - Broadband changes to revolutionize Jamaica's Internet landscape”, published Sunday October 24 2010, by Janet Silvera, The Sunday Gleaner.

This article has not clarified anything at all, as it sings on the mantra of popularity being an indication that they are in the right in the eyes of the Customers, when in fact the whole affair is about meeting the requirements of a technical specification set by the ITU (International Telecommunications Union), the Telecommunications arm of the UN (United Nations).

In even in the eyes of more telecoms-aware and wary Customers, Telecom Provider Digicel clearly does not even meet as per the article “4G: What's in a name?”, published October 21, 2010 12:42 PM PDT by Marguerite Reardon, CNET News - Signal Strength.

Currently as of the time of writing this article, Telecom Provider Digicel 4G Broadband Network are overloaded and less than 10MBps promised speed, with torrent downloading being throttled to protect the company from Copyright Infringement litigation.

WiMaX 4G Fixed (IEEE 802.16a) used by the CPE (Customer Premises Equipment) and WiMaX 4G Mobile (IEEE 802.16d, e) used by the dongles and thus giving them mobility as well as the capability to have Data Transfers while in motion, technically referred to as handover between mobile cell towers.

Firstly, albeit satisfying the Orthogonal Frequency-Division Multiplexing (OFDM) requirement, effectively the same signal multiplexing inherent in WCDMA (Wideband Code Division Multiple Access), is obviously not 100MBps in speed. Telecom Provider Digicel listen up: Data Customers are a whole different category of Customer from users of Voice Telecoms and are not so easily deceived or placated.

As luck would have it, although I have left Telecom Provider CLARO since Thursday December 3rd 2009, a lot of Contractors still make contact with me, mainly because I was the one who initially got them into the whole Telecoms game in the first place or assisted in their getting their money, something Telecom Provider CLARO finds hard to pay out promptly.

Thus I was informed by a well known Ericsson Contractor on Tuesday October 2nd 2010 via a phone call on my mobile phone, as I was coming home on a bus from Kingston from an interview at Amazing PC for a position as a PC Technician.

According to the Ericsson Contractor, who had worked on setting up Digicel’s 4G Broadband using WiMaX, Telecom Provider Digicel’s problems stem mainly from having to change their Ericsson Marconi Radio Network to Ericsson Radios that can accommodate the additional “tribs” (RF Technician slang for T1’s, a T1 being 1.544MBps Data Link) on Microwave Radios that have limited capacity.

Hence the slower than promised “10 times faster than 3G” speeds as per promise by Digicel CEO Mark Linehan the article “'4G is 10 times faster than 3G', says Digicel Boss”, published Monday August 23, 2010, The Jamaica Gleaner, mainly due to the odd spectacle of Telecom Provider Digicel advertising so blatantly the fact that they had Wireless Broadband Network.

Telecom Provider Digicel’s own popularity working against them, as “tech” oriented Customers, drawn to the company Broadband 4G like a moth to a flame or like University of the West Indies Students to free food after a boring talk shop on campus.

The Ericsson Contractor also confirmed suspicions I had with regards to Telecom Provider CLARO, who I knew would have to change their Alcatel-Lucent Microwave Radios to ones that carry more “tribs” (Ericsson perhaps?), as the incredible spike in demand for their 3G offering, Voice Traffic as well as their planned migration to LTE (Long Term Evolution) means that a switch to new equipment to accommodate expanding demand was overdue.

This is not an upgrade people, as that would be software change of the 3G BBU to LTE, as it is my initial assumption that they may be keeping the Huawei 3G equipment, having already paid for it, as opposed to just pulling it out and replacing it with Ericsson LTE.

Possibly the LTE will also be placed in the same Radio Cabinets as the Alcatel-Lucent Radios, which may be changed out to Ericsson Radios. This is not news to me, as I had discussed the very same thing back in 2009 with a bunch of brain-dead Shurpower Contractors.

What is news is what the Ericsson Contractor then told me: Telecom Provider CLARO is building a completely new MSC (Mobile Switching Center) in Duncan, Trelawny!

The Ericsson Contractor also confirmed in the absolute that instead of using equipment form Telecom Equipment Supplier Huawei, there are instead going with Telecom Equipment Supplier Ericsson (hence the moniker “Ericsson Contractor”!), both for the Switching subsystem as well as for the Node B’s in the field cabinets to be located at each of the GSM (Global System Mobile) sites.

Which of course use GSM Node B’s and BBU (Base Band Units) in the cabinets and RRU (Remote Radio Units) on the towers supplied by Telecom Equipment Supplier Huawei to go with the 3G equipment.

For the record, the antennas are mainly dual band Agisson, albeit Andrews antennas works just nicely as well, supporting the 850MHz and little used 1900MHz channels that Telecom Provider CLARO uses.

 More work for the riggers [Tower Climbers], as this additional LTE Network brings the total number of separate Networks to four (4): GSM, CDMA, 3G done by Equipment Supplier Huawei and LTE to be done by Telecom Equipment Supplier Ericsson, according to the Ericsson Contractor friend of mine.

As LTE is also Orthogonal Frequency-Division Multiplexing (OFDM), effectively the same signal multiplexing inherent in WCDMA (Wideband Code Division Multiple Access) only using a higher QAM (Quadrature Amplitude Modulation) Level to provision the 100MBps speeds, best effort with minimum latency,

It is most likely that a Fiber Optic Contractor may have to be called in to interconnect the Radio Ring with Fiber Optic Cable as well as run Fiber Optic Cables to each of the Node B’s hosting the LTE Equipment, as that is the only way to guarantee QoS (Quality of Service).

This is because 100Mbps, even for budget Telecom Provider CLARO, will still be retailed at prices out of the reach of the typical Residential Customer, as Triple Play Provider FLOW, who started this mad rush towards the elusive 100MBps finish line, prices their spanking new 50MBps and 100Mbps Services at a premium.

Thus, Business Customers may wish to use the 100MBps LTE Services of Telecom Provider CLARO, but will only adopt to its usage with confidence if Telecom Provider CLARO can guarantee QoS, and Fiber Optic interconnectivity to each Node B for LTE assures QoS.

ISO9001 certification or higher was required by Telecom Provider LIME to certify their Caribbean MPLS (Multi-Protocol Label Switching) as stated in the article “Cable & Wireless deploys regional MPLS Network”, published Friday August 7 2008, IPT.

ISO9001 is the seal of approval to guarantee QoS to its Business Customers, which is ahead of Telecom Provider Island Networks owned by CEO, Andrew Massias, the only other company in Jamaica that provides MPLS and WiMaX Services to Business Customers as suggested in the article “Massias to invest $500 million in Island Networks”, published Wednesday July 11, 2007, The Jamaica Gleaner.

Thus Telecom Provider CLARO will have to straighten up and fly right in order to get the coveted ISO9001 certification in order to show a guarantee of QoS to even begin to attract Business customers, wary of Telecom Provider CLARO and their much rumoured Customer Service.

In fact, every Department, from Marketing to Engineering, has to pass ISO9001 certification, otherwise no-one in Jamaica will take Telecom Provider CLARO Business Services seriously, especially after Telecom Provider Digicel and their lackluster WiMaX 4G Fixed (IEEE 802.16d) Business Service in 2007 and their practice of giving credit instead of refunds to Residential users of Broadband 4G users, now launched in 2010.

Not much change since then; media obfuscation seems to be the order of the day. Alternative Energy may finally be in the mix, as in order to guarantee QoS, all the Node B’s and the Ring Sites (Telecom Provider Radio Frequency Technicians call them “Drop Nodes”) need to have 100% reliable clean stable always available power, preferably from an Alternative Energy source, such as a Solar Powered Generator.

JPS Co is unreliable and so are Diesel Powered Generators, already relics of the past and proven unreliable along with Shurpower.

For QoS, Alternative Energy is required.

Most likely, however for Residential Customers, Telecom Provider CLARO may be following the lead of Triple Play Provider FLOW and may use their high bandwidth service to provision a Municipal Wi-Fi (IEEE 802.11n) Network so that the masses may experience the 100MBps speed without having to pay the hefty price of buying an expensive LTE modem.

This would be a move akin to the stealthily silent 800 pound Gorilla in the Room (most colorful of American phraseology!), that being Wayne Chen and Lee’s family financed Dekal Wireless and Nubian-1 Tech Services Limited, as per my article on the Geezam Blog entitled “Dekal Wireless - Broadband for the Masses”.

Most likely too, their Municipal Wi-Fi (IEEE 802.11n) Network will probably be both a static (fixed Remote Base Stations or Node B’s) such as hosted inside, built at a fixed location as is the case with Dekal Wireless and Nubian-1 Tech Services Limited.

Or Dynamic (Moving Remote Base Stations or Node B’s) such as mounted inside of Taxis, JUTC Buses, Individual Motor Cars, with Solar Power Supply, of course, otherwise called Rolling Wi-Fi (IEEE 802.11n). LTE handsets are available, but logically would not use the full 100MBps, though they might be running Wi-Fi Direct and thus operate as a mobile hotspot.

This last tit-bit is from an Indian Customer Care friend of mine at Telecom Provider CLARO. Like Silicon Valley and the Tech Rumours on CNET in California, Jamaica’s Telecoms Scene is mostly just that – rumours. But as any Jamaican knows, “if it nuh go suh, it guh near suh”, enunciating in our colourful vernacular.

Thus, if my Ericsson Contractor friend is right, the REAL reason for the speed bump to 100MBps may have been the fact that Telecom Provider CLARO, in making the decision to go LTE, would have had to begin calculating and sequestering purchasing of T1’s for a wholesaler of T1 connectivity.

Which of course would be from Columbus Communications, the parent of Triple Play Provider FLOW, who provides this facility via their 150Gbps Fiber Optic connectivity to Boca Raton, Florida!

Hard to keep anything secret from Triple Play Provider FLOW CEO Michelle “Dallas” English, as like her sister Kathy English, Division Manager for Marketing the spanking new Cisco CIUS Tablet (my suggestion for a dockable tablet for the Healthcare sector to Cisco by the way!!!) being marketed to the Healthcare Sector.

They [the sisters] do seem to be very much “hip” with technology and the buzz (no offence to Executive Editor Molly Wood of the Buzz Report on CNET!) it generates in Local Jamaican Tech circles, both in forums and the Blogsphere, now also slowly growing, as techies do write.

But does this mean that via this challenge that Telecom Provider LIME may have decided to go 4G? Will they will be leaning more towards LTE at speeds of 100MBps, seeing as how Regional Vice-President for Legal, Regulatory and Corporate Affairs, Camille Taylor was serious enough to take it to the FTC (Fair Trading Commission)?

Is it a case that possibly either Camille Taylor or Chairman Chris Dehring from Telecom Provider LIME may eventually reveal The Truth About Charlie (2002) the film with the French local (Hint: Alcatel-Lucent is a French company and Undersea Fiber Optic Contractor), as it relates to whether Telecom Provider LIME will soon make an announcement as to whether or not they are going LTE?

Stay tuned!!!!

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