My Thoughts on Technology and Jamaica: Digicel and WiMax 4G Mobile - Sprint, My Brother's Keeper

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Digicel and WiMax 4G Mobile - Sprint, My Brother's Keeper

And once or twice to throw the dice
Is a gentlemanly game
But he does not win who plays with Sin
In the Secret House of Shame

Oscar Wilde, The Ballad of Reading Goal

It seems that Google’s little experiment to determine what use one would have for 100Mbps speed Broadband Internet as per the article “Google subsidizing ultrafast Broadband test”, published February 10, 2010 8:58 AM PST, by Stephen Shankland, CNET News - Deep Tech may be answered the old-fashioned way: just ask the Customer!

At least that is what Telecom Provider Verizon seems to be thinking, recently flexing their engineering muscles in August 2010 in a test of its FiOS (Fiber Optic Service) Network between two (2) servers separated by four hundred (400) miles that it was capable of delivering speeds in excess of 1GBps as stated in the article “Verizon demos 1GBps FIOS connection”, published August 16, 2010 2:55 PM PDT by Marguerite Reardon, CNET News - Signal Strength.

Then Triple Play Provider FLOW here in Jamaica decided to up the ante in response to Telecom Provider CLARO going 172Mbps LTE (Long Term Evolution) by offering 100Mbps as per my blog article entitled “LIME vs Digicel - The Truth About Charlie” and “Digicel vs LIME - Mortal Kombat over 4G Title” and my most stirring blog article entitled “CLARO vs FLOW - Cats and Dogs The Revenge of Kitty Galore”.

Telecom Provider Verizon, all the way in the United States of America, must have also caught the “demand” virus from Triple Play Provider FLOW CEO Michelle English, ‘cause Telecom Provider Verizon came out of their corner swinging (possibly to the tune of Rocky?!).

They announced brashly that they too were going 100Mbps on their FiOS for a pricey US$149 for a thirty (30) day subscription as stated in the article “Verizon intros 150Mbps Broadband on FiOS”, published November 22, 2010 3:31 PM PST by Marguerite Reardon, CNET News - Signal Strength.

This despite initially saying that no such demand existed for such speeds among Customers in the article above! Guess they must have read my blog article entitled “Telecom Providers and 100Mbps - Diamonds are Forever”, published eleven (11) days prior on Saturday November 11th 2010. Strange indeed!

So now everyone clearly has caught this “demand” illness from Triple Play Provider FLOWCEO Michelle English (what a long title!!) what must we as Customers make of all this grandstanding? The reason, that being one-upmanship and egos, is clearly driving these speed bumps by these various Telecom Providers.

All part of the traditions established long ago among Telecom Providers when it came to aggressive displays about your Internet Speed capabilities, like male elk fighting and jousting for the unwitting affections and mating rights to a Doe.

Yet still the question remains, which technology is better? I attempted to answer this question in my blog article entitled “LTE vs WiMaX 4G - Jayce and the Wheeled Warriors” and came out swinging in favour of WiMaX, mainly because its development was based on a suggestion I had made back in 2002 online to the IEEE (Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers) and because it is IEEE – probably the biggest supporter of Open Architecture, akin to Open Source for IT peeps.

Simply put, Telecom Provider Digicel and Telecom Provider Clearwire, both sporting WiMaX 4G Mobile (IEEE 802.16d, e) Networks capable of 10Mbps speeds (120 Mbps if upgraded to WiMaX 2 protocol) are Open Architecture.

Telecom Provider Digicel has even entered into Roaming Agreements with Telecom Provider Sprint, with Telecom Provider Digicel and Telecom Provider Sprint, an investor in Telecom Provider Clearwire, a nationwide WiMaX Network.

This after having signed effectively what is the first Broadband Roaming Agreement for the Caribbean as it relates to WiMaX modems being allowed to use the Telecom Provider’s Networks per the article “Digicel, Sprint enter revenue-share agreement on 4G Roaming”, published Friday December 10, 2010 by Mark Titus, The Jamaica Gleaner.

Telecom Provider LIME and Telecom Provider CLARO do not need such Broadband Roaming Agreement, as a 3G modem uses a SIM Card, and as such one merely needs the SIM Card from the Telecom Provider providing the 3G Service as well as to ensure that your modem is compatible with the Host Network i.e. uses the correct frequency. Open Architecture has its limitations, but there is company in numbers.

Advantages abound! Equipment cards such as Power, Processor and Communication Cards are not only interchangeable among the 4G systems, but because WiMaX equipment architecture is common, both for the RBS (Remote Base Stations) or Node B’s as well as for the Switch at the MSC (Mobile Switching Centre) are the same, it creates a secondary industry of Telecom Equipment Suppliers who can make replacement cards to replace defective ones.

To wit, it makes maintenance of the system cheaper and deployments cheaper, as replacing equipment when it goes bad does not lock you into the specific Telecom Equipment Suppliers, as many Telecom Equipment Suppliers produce replacement components that work with your equipment, much as is the case with computers.

Best of all, like Open Source in IT, Open Architecture allows the owners of the WiMaX equipment to make signification modification to the software and firmware, as opposed to just changing the Switch’s settings as is the case with GSM Equipment.

Thus the preference for WiMaX as evidenced by the US$35 million dollar choice of WiMaX by Guyana’s President Barrat Jagdeo as stated in the article “Guyana to build WiMaX Network”, published Friday December 10th, 2010, The Jamaica Gleaner. Some techies, specifically pundits on Telecom Provider Digicel’s Network, may state that WiMaX 4GMobile (IEEE 802.16d, e) is slow and LTE is better as it is faster.

Aside from the usual arguments about Latency and Traffic on the shared broadband facility typical of Wireless Broadband, Telecom Provider Digicel speeds is also affected by the cost of purchasing T1 to provision a faster service (you want it, but are you willing to pay for it?) as well as the fact that the ideal Customers of such service, Business People, are still lukewarm to Wireless Broadband for business, being as it is perceived to be unsecured and not reliable as per my blog article entitled “LIME vs Digicel - The Truth About Charlie”.

Since that article, upgrades are ongoing and already noticeable speed stabilization as well as improved Latency is a result, albeit congestion issues still plague the Network in the daytime.

Many will say that LTE (Long Term Evolution) the proprietary baby of the 3GPP, is faster, but alas, speed is an argument for techies and Data Hogs, nefarious people intent on downloading and streaming Copyright Infringing content under the guise of “Fair Usage” complaints.

Performance and reliability is more my concern, and thus far maximum speeds of 7Mbps, thanks to recent upgrades to Telecom Provider Digicel Ericsson Marconi Radio Network, is satisfactory enough for the typical Residential Customer or casual Internet user for streaming and Legitimate downloading.

It is however, a far cry from being useful for Businesses, as even evident from Telecom Provider Digicel’s advertising for Digicel 4G Broadband, so Telecom Provider Digicel cannot accuse me of misrepresentation, of which they are technically guilty with regards to calling themselves “4G” as per my blog article entitled “Digicel vs LIME - Mortal Kombat over 4G Title” when the evidence is in their very advertisements.

Solution: Fiber Optics for Backhaul replacement of their ageing Microwave Radio Network, Alternative Energy to power the equipment instead of Power Utility Companies such as JPS Co (Jamaica Power Service Company Limited) and QoS (Quality of Service) certification via ISO9001 to soothe Business Customers, fidgety about their sensitive Data traveling over Wireless.

Be it LTE or WiMaX, as security, not speed, is the real issue. WiMaX is prone to signal shadowing due to the 2.5 GHz spectrum typically assigned to WiMaX services, necessitating that you position your CPE (Customer Premises Equipment) near to a window for LOS (Line of Sight), also evident from their advertising.

LTE has the advantage of being a descendant of 3G and thus can use any GSM Mobile spectrum from 2100 MHz to as low as 720MHz. 2.5 GHz is too high for Wireless Broadband; you basically have to have LOS (Line of Sight) for the WiMaX modem and CPE (Customer Premises Equipment) to work properly.

Effectively sitting near a window, as the Digicel 4G Broadband Commercials demonstrate and ACTUALLY occurs in practice as stated in the article “Clear 4G WiMaX: Beats Crappy Hotel Internet”, published November 22, 2010, 10:45am PST by Jason Perlow, Tech Broiler, ZDNet.

Throw into the mix Geo-Location Services using Single Tower Triangulation from GloPos as per my blog article entitled “Mobile Triangulation without GPS - A Solution to Crime under our Noses”. Donations via my PayPal Account are acceptable for my above suggestions.

This as Google can invest in Jamaica, seeing as we have spectrum to spare as per the article indicating that spectrum is up for sale entitled “Government mulls new mobile provider”, published Wednesday, November 24, 2010 The Jamaica Observer as well as my blog article entitled “Google Voice and Google Nexus One - All's Well that Ends Well”.

Still, the recent DSO (Digital Switch Over) in the United States of America should yield useful spectrum that WiMaX backers can lobby for to be assigned to their services, thus putting them on a level playing field with its sibling technology Wi-Fi (IEEE 802.11n), expected to benefit from “White” Space Frequencies as the spectrum crisis looms as per the article “FCC crunches numbers on Spectrum crisis”, published October 25, 2010 2:37 PM PDT by Marguerite Reardon, CNET News - Signal Strength.

Wi-Fi (IEEE 802.11n) is already destined to become “Super” Wi-Fi (IEEE 802.11n) just by being able to utilize the “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

This is now officially confirmed in the article “FCC officially frees TV white space spectrum”, published Thursday September 23 2010, CNET News. Hopefully likewise can happen here in Jamaica as opined in my blog article entitled “ Broadcasting and Digital Switch Over - Back to the Future to compete with LIME TV”!

Thus, assuming Customers do not mind the LOS restrictions, WiMaX 2 (IEEE 802.16m) and Wi-Fi (IEEE 802.11n) can give LTE from Telecom Provider CLARO and 100Mbps from Triple Play Provider FLOW a run for its money, and prove that Open Architecture is feasible in the Telecoms Sector.

WiMaX 2 (IEEE 802.16m) smartphones, slated to appear on Telecom Provider Digicel Network, may not face much competition from Municipal Wi-Fi (IEEE 802.11n) Networks such as Wayne Chen and Lees family owned Dekal Wireless and Nubian-1 Tech Service Limited as per my blog article entitled “Digicel and WiMaX 4G Mobile - Barbarians at the Gates”.

Not only can most WiMaX smartphones double as a Mobile hotspot for up to four (4) Wi-Fi (IEEE 802.11n) devices, but Telecom Provider Digicel also has the option to sell Mi-Fi for WiMaX 2 (IEEE 802.16m) to Wi-Fi (IEEE 802.11n) conversion, making the distinction between these siblings meaningless.

Roaming Agreements would also help mend fences too, should Dekal Wireless and Nubian-1 Tech Service Limited decide to get crazy and encroach on Telecom Provider Digicel’s Voice Networks by offering Metered Wi-Fi calling or Mesh Network Calling as per my blog article entitled “Telecom Providers 4G vs Wi-Fi Calling - Galaxy Rangers” and “Digicel and WiMaX 4G Mobile - The Great Australian Outback”.

After all, Telecom Provider Digicel, are you not your Brother's Keeper (1992), as per the bestselling novel by Patricia McCormick, a must read on this glorious Sunday December 12th 2010?

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