My Thoughts on Technology and Jamaica: Telecom Provider LIME and M2M Services - Free SMS and EDGE for the Caribbean to Foster Regional Integration

Friday, August 5, 2011

Telecom Provider LIME and M2M Services - Free SMS and EDGE for the Caribbean to Foster Regional Integration

Off with the fetters
That chafe and restrain!
Off with the chain!

Richard Hovey, Vagabondia

In the last blog article on the fortunes of Telecom Provider LIME and what they should do to guarantee long term profitability as stated in my blog article entitled “LIME look to the future with new Services - Video and Audio Friends with Benefits in the Dead Zone” I momentarily mentioned the idea of making EDGE (Enhanced Data Rates for GSM Evolution) and GPRS (Global Packet Radio System) Data Platforms free services to the wider public.

I wish to expand on this, as it was a suggestion of mine much discussed back in April 2009AD with the Shurpower Engineers while en route to have generators repaired and set on auto-start. This as EDGE and GPRS, albeit 2G Services that are a part of the GSM (Global System Mobile) Voice Platform, are currently being used for M2M (Machine to Machine) Communications as stated in my blog article entitled “Telecom Providers and SMS - The Dead Zone” and the article “Verizon's LTE Network and VoLTE - The Dead Zone meets The Machine Stops”.

So why should it result in SMS (Short Messaging Service) and low speed Internet access at speeds of 56Kpbs (GPRS) to 256kbps (EDGE) being free? Because it is most appropriate, as no one is currently using these slower speeds for any form of Internet. In making these slow-services free, it may foster Regional Integration.

Locally for Jamaica, it may eventually lead to more rapid Broadband Adoption as opined in my Geezam blog article entitled “Jamaica’s Low Net Penetration – Broadband Internet A Universal Right. We have, since the advent of Telecom Provider CLARO, stepped into the Wireless Broadband Age here in Jamaica.

As such, such lower speed Services are all but neglected, save for the few who still have a Digicel EDGE USB Stick DC87-0 Modem, which I had surmised Telecom Provider Digicel was using for a test run to guage market demand for Mobile Internet pre WiMax 4G Mobile (IEEE 802.16d, e) Launch as stated in my blog article entitled “Digicel EDGE Modem - Report on the testrun for Digicel Broadband” and the article “Digicel and WiMax 4G Mobile - Back to the Future as NetFlix Expands”.

EDGE and GPRS, however, are great for email and SMS. I know this as fact, as not only did I own one of Telecom Provider Digicel’s EDGE USB Stick DC87-0 Modem while working as a RF Technician at Telecom Provider CLARO (conflict of interest? I live dangerously….) but I used it to send out SMS list of the cell sites to each of the Contractors to organize the refueling of Generators.

Thus customers who send email from email clients such as Mozilla Thunderbird would not have much of a problem, so long as your attachments are not too heavy. Ditto too for users of Cloud-Based Email Platforms, such as Gmail and Yahoo Mail.

SMS, believe it or not, uses the messaging links within the GSM Protocol Stack and as such, are effectively using the same channels as those reserved for slow speeds GPRS. The standard SMS has a maximum of one hundred and twenty characters (120) which is a total of 120 bytes or 980 bits, assuming an 8 bit word.

At the current costs of Internet Access of JA$40 per MB on offer from the Big Three (3) Telecom Providers, that works out to JA$0.0048 per full one hundred and twenty (120) character SMS, way cheaper than the JA$3 Jamaicans pay on average to send a SMS.

To bring it into better perspective, CLARO OMG, the one hundred (100) SMS Promotion for JA$10 on offer from Telecom Provider CLARO, which was also another of my ideas much discussed back in April 2009AD with the Shurpower Engineers while en route to have generators repaired and set on auto-start, is now a permanent product for Telecom Provider CLARO.

This as it is a massive money spinner, as one hundred (100) SMS only costs JA$0.48, assuming each SMS you send uses up the full quote of one hundred and twenty (120) and the target market, Millennial [ages 18 to 28], already used to BB Messenger, are continuously using the service. A figure far below the JA$10 you sacrifice from your credit to get the privilege of making your “feature” phone look like a basic BB Messenger or JA$3 you pay for regular SMS.

Which of courses raises the obvious question in the minds of John Public: if Telecom Provider CLARO can do it for SMS and make money, why not the other Telecom Providers?

EDGE and GPRS are also great for VoIP Calling as stated in the research paper by Network Equipment Maker Cisco entitled “Voice Over IP - Per Call Bandwidth Consumption, being as it requires only a minimum of 64Kbps speed to function, provided that the VoIP Client installed on your Laptop, PC or Tablet is not too heavy in its use of Internet resources.

But most importantly of all, for those of us who live outside of the shadow of the Broadband Networks which the Telecoms Provider Plan to roll out, EDGE and GPRS are a lifeline. This as Telecom Provider LIME and Telecom Provider Digicel’s plans for a Caribbean wide HSDPA+ Release 7 Network as stated in my blog article entitled “LIME's US$80 million Caribbean HSDPA+ Release 7 Upgrade - Sonic the Hedgehog” and the article “Of ATC Strikes and Digicel 3G+ Upgrades - Pushing Tin in Eerie, Indiana” are for economic reasons only.

That is to say, USA and EU Tourists, now sporting smartphones, Tablets and cheaper Laptops and an insatiable love for Wireless Broadband Internet as stated in my blog article entitled “LIME and American Tourist Data Avalanche - The US$80 Million Dollar CannonBall Run”.

Until Caribbean Nationals get hip to why they should have Broadband Internet everywhere with them, making EDGE and GPRS free, subsidized via it current utilization for M2M Services (which is inclusive of Blackberry phones by the way!) would whet Jamaican and Caribbean appetites for Mobile Broadband.

Coupled with advertising subsidized Blackberry and other smartphones at prices equivalent to a Nokia 1208 as per in my blog article entitled “RIM, Telecom Providers and the Rise of Mobile Commerce - Free Willy Blackberry”, it would help to usher in the idea of access to Broadband Internet as akin to the rights as laid out under the UNCHR (United Nation Charter on Human Rights).

This as smartphones are merely a Platform to deliver the Voice and Data Services and Telecoms Providers are in the business of providing Services as opposed to selling handsets and Instruments.

Internet Access, even it its most basic form on smartphones of Blackberry, should be something that is a necessity. This is especially true for High School and College students who do not live in areas surveyed by the Telecom Providers as deemed not profitable to invest infrastructure as opposed to being a luxury for only 25% of people who own a computer as opined in my Geezam blog article entitled “Jamaica’s Low Net Penetration – Broadband Internet A Universal Right”.

I thus hope that when the Government of Jamaica redrafts the outdated Telecommunications Act of 2000 and creates the new Telecoms Regulator as stated in my blog article entitled “Telecom Providers get their own Regulator - GOJ says Telecoms For Your Eyes Only, the GOJ will also include provisions for making lower speed 2G Internet Services such as EDGE and SMS free for the Caribbean to Foster Regional Integration and eventually more rapid Broadband Adoption!


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