My Thoughts on Technology and Jamaica: April 2012

Friday, April 27, 2012

LIME launches IPTV Streaming Service LIME TV in Barbados on schedule - Lady Gaga's Bad Romance for Digital Cable and Free-to-Air Broadcasters

Telecom Provider LIME’s promise as made earlier to launch their IPTV (Internet Protocol Television) Service in Jamaica and Barbados by the First Quarter of 2012AD, April 2012AD as stated in the article “LIME's cable TV technology will be able to offer up to 130 channels”, published Wednesday, October 05, 2011, The Jamaica Observer has been partially fulfilled.

This as the service has now gone live in Barbados in a service which has curiously been branded with the same name as it DVB-H (Digital video Broadcast  - Handheld) service,LIME TV in Jamaica  as stated in the article “LIME launches pay TV in Barbados”, published Monday, April 23, 2012, The Jamaica Observer.

Truly, CWC (Cable and Wireless Worldwide) had seen the benefits of LIME TV in Jamaica and this massive investment push into IPTV Streaming television is the expression of their confidence in the Management of Telecom Provider LIME.

In addition, CWC, Telecom Provider LIME’s parent is expanding an already existing service that has had a good uptake by the population in Panama and Monaco with similar Pay TV Services. In the Caribbean, LIME TV Services in the form of DVB-H viewable on Mobile phones has already been rolled out in St. Lucia and Jamaica. So this has gone a bit beyond an experiment: people are indeed receptive to Pay Television streamed to them and do indeed like the idea of TV Anywhere, Anytime.

I rarely say this, but this time Telecom Provider LIME has kept to its schedule and is in the process of delivering on its promise of an IPTV Streaming Service with this initial rollout in Barbados. With Jamaica coming up next on their schedule and with it a possible expansion of the upgrade of the Wireless 3G Internet Broadband service throught Jamaica to deliver this VAS (Value Added Service) to customers at competitive prices.

Again the words of Telecom Provider LIME Chairman and Chief Marketing Officer Chris Dehring expectations of the service is upbeat, quote: “Our goal is to provide consumers with a pay TV product that is functionally superior to their current experience, delivers higher levels of service and is easy to use. The launch of LIME TV is an important step towards delivering entertainment services to all our customers. Pay TV is an important growth opportunity for us.”

More importantly, it will fulfill my prediction of free-to-air Broadcasters and Triple Play Provider FLOW effectively having new competition and gradually being made extinct as stated in the blog article entitled “LIME parent CWC partners with Avail-TVN to provide IPTV Streaming Service - War of The Worlds against Netflix”.

Juniper Networks will provide the IPTV Streaming Gear and the Platform that will convert the content supplied by Content Provider Avail-TVN to data that can be streamed over Telecom Provider LIME soon-to-be-upgraded HSDPA+ Release 7 (High Speed Downlink Packet Access Plus) Network. At one hundred and thirty channels, this IPTV Streaming service does not hold a candle up to Triple Play Provider FLOW’ offer of thousands of channels most of them coming in 1080p HDTV.

Just for comparison, the content provided by this new service to Barbados’ 287,000 strong population includes ABC, CBC and NBC, ESPN, MTV, Nickelodeon, Warner Bros channel and BBC America. Telecom Provider LIME has not left out Sports channels which currently will include a serving of HBO and Max (formerly Cinemax).

But throw in the fact that the service can offer to set top boxes and HSDPA+ Release 7 the following incentives and you realize that this Wireless service has the potential to shake up a lot of people in the IPTV Streaming world:

1.      MPEG-4 Compressed Video Stream for efficient bandwidth usage
2.      3D Capable (Triple Play ProviderFLOW, take note!!!!)
3.      Support for up to 130 channels, (albeit this is no longer a big talking point!)
4.      Streaming to 3G Capable Cable Boxes as well as any 3G Capable Device
5.      ABR (Adaptive Bit Rate)
6.      TV Anywhere

Already, in Barbados, Telecom Provider LIME has their own television channel to showcase their products and announce the launch of new products, also cleverly named LIME Style. Most likely the use of the name “LIME TV” is for brand identification and was done to create continuity for the original DVB-H mobile phone based LIME TV Service.

So with their venture into content provision, even if it’s a channel showcasing  mobile phones and broadband product ads with some nice visuals and titillating Caribbean beauties!

The possibility that they may have content coming driven by Media Personalities who may have left the Free-to-Air Broadcasting world, such as Pepita Little as prognosticated in my blog article entitled “LIME chooses Juniper Networks to rebroadcast Avail-TVN's Content - Pepita Little's Ghostbusters to capture Media Personalities” is going to become a reality.

Stay tuned to this Blog and the Geezam Blog as to the eventual launch of this service in Jamaica, as we are then next Guinea Pigs set to take our turn in the treadmill in what is now a Bad Romance Lady Gaga Style for Digital Cable Providers and Free-to-Air Television!

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Phillip Paulwell wants Full Energy Sector Liberalization as JPS Co’s Dan Theoc holding on to his Hard End

Since the publication of the Geezam blog article entitled “JPS Co to build Jamaica’s first Gas Turbine Power Plant in St. Catherine” much has been said of the decision to go LNG (Liquid Natural Gas) and the setting up of a bipartisan Energy Council by Minister of Energy and Mining, Philip Paulwell as stated in the article Full speed ahead with LNG”, published 9th February 2012, Go-Jamaica.

Even more criticism has been made of the fact that Jamaicans are still being overbilled and the intended savings 55% to 62% will not be seen for another next three (3) years. There is also a growing unease as to whether Philip Paulwell can deliver as he did when he liberalized the Telecoms Sector in 1998.

The benefit of LNG as a motor vehicle fuel in the form of Auto LPG (Liquid Petroleum Gas) may not be certain either as opined in the Geezam blog article entitled “Auto LPG as a Motor Vehicle Fuel”, even if Jamaican could afford the US$1000 for a basic Auto LPG Kit.

According to the article “Bids to open next year for LNG terminal”, Published Sunday December 4, 2011, The Jamaica Gleaner all these lofty plans to reduce the cost of Electricity generated by the JPS Co by the construction of the LNG Power Plant in Old Harbour rest squarely on the promise by Phillip Paulwell to secure FDI (Foreign Direct Investors) to procure:

  • LNG Supply
  • LNG Floating Storage Facilities
  • LNG Re-gasification Terminal
  • Pipeline Infrastructure to supply JPS Co Power Plants and JAMALCO’s Alumina Works and Power Plants

This as stated clearly by Dan Theoc, JPS Co’s Chief Financial Officer at a Press Briefing held by the JPS Co and the Government in the article “Deadline for energy”, published Friday February 17, 2012 by Arthur Hall, Senior Staff Reporter, The Jamaica Gleaner, quote “Quite frankly, this project will not go forward unless we are certain that natural gas is coming to Jamaica, and I mean certain”. Dan Theoc is quite within his rights to speak his mind.

Albeit the JPS Co is mainly Private Equity owned by a Korean-based Power Company EWP (East-West Power Company Limited) as indicated in the article Korean company will improve operations at JPS — Mullings”, published Wednesday, July 20, 2011 BY ALICIA DUNKLEY Observer senior reporter, The Jamaica Observer, they still have to get the accent of the GOJ as it relates to:

  • The fuel being used
  • Any addition of any generating capacity

This Dan Theoc, JPS Co’s Chief Financial Officer pointed on in a Letter to the Editor on in the Thursday February 23rd 2012AD Jamaica Gleaner entitled “Not Dissing The Minister”, published Thursday February 23, 2012, by JPSCo CFO Dan Theoc, Letters to the Editor, The Jamaica Gleaner. More precisely, the ownership of JPS Co stacks up as thus:

  • Government owns 19.9%
  • Marubeni owns 40%
  • EWP owns 40%
  • Three thousand (3000) independent shareholders own 0.1%

More quotable quotes from Dan Theoc, quote: “We are saying over the next six months the process will be finalized so that we can have certainty on the matter before we move forward in complete earnest with the project”. So it would appear the ball is really in Philip Paulwell’s court, with the onus for the Ministry of Energy and Mining in the next six (6) months to procure the LNG and secure the contractors to begin the construction of the LNG Plant.

This mammoth beast of Power Engineering is being anticipated with much alacrity by many members of the Engineering community. Some new details on the LNG Plant are in order at this point:

  • The construction phase is expected to last some two (2) years
  • The generating capacity of the LNG Plant is 360MW LNG-fired
  • The total cost of the LNG Plant is estimated to be J$52 billion (US$602 million), of which JPS Co is investing US$616 million (J$53 billion)
  • It’s expected to create approximately one thousand two hundred jobs (1,200) in the Old Harbour, St. Catherine area
  • Cost saving to the Jamaican tax payer of US$300 million per year in imported Oil as pointed out in the article “JPS: LNG Power Plant to cut US$300m from oil bill”, published Friday February 10, 2012, The Jamaica Gleaner.

As it relates to full liberalization of the Energy Sector, Dan Theoc is effectively holding on to his hard end in this increasingly interesting game of Dominoes with the Government as stated in the article “Paulwell just thinking aloud with monopoly stance - JPS head”, Published Friday February 17, 2012 by Arthur Hall, Senior Staff Reporter, The Jamaica Gleaner.

His latest statements indicate just as much, quote: “As it relates to the thought of introducing competition (in transmission and distribution), I believe it is just a thought that the minister is thinking aloud. The beauty about this is that's not the minister's decision. We have a clear regulatory framework. The JPS has a license which was extended in August 2011 by the Government of Jamaica regardless of who the minister [is]”.

Clearly Minister Phillip Paulwell has his work cut out for him if he expects to really negotiate his way towards this lofty ideal of Liberalization of the Distribution and Electricity Power Generation to facilitate the introduction of competition in the Energy Sector he has being voicing since being in Opposition.

Clearly too, Diversification of the sources of Energy to include is just as important, with Coal still clearly in the Energy Mix picture due to its low cost and stability of price. Even BioGas, which is really Natural Gas produced from the decay of Organic Material, such as occurs at the Riverton City Dump and Montego Bay Dump as suggested by Minister of Local Government Noel Arscott as stated in the article Let's make money from garbage – Arscott”, Published Friday February 17, 2012, The Jamaica Gleaner

He must continue of the work of the previous Energy Minister Clive Mullings and negotiate towards a better more equitable Energy Mix in Jamaica to the benefit of consumers and Business interest alike.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

LIME launches XL Value Campaign and slashes 3G Mobile Prepaid Data come May 1 - Shadows of the Old Republic as LIME does Baby Cham's Wine

In a sign that competition in the Wireless Broadband Telecom Provider LIME has announced yet another raft of aggressive rate drops and Promotions in both the Voice Services and Data Services Sector respectively.

This as they had kicked of their LIME XL Value Campaign that saw them rolling out their version of Gimme 5 for its Prepaid customers as stated in the article “Lime goes 'XL' downtown Kingston - Giant cake unveiled and served during campaign launch party”, published Friday April 20 2012 by The Jamaica Star.

I’ll make really short work of this, as it’s a gutsy move that is much needed as it segways perfectly with its sponsorship with CVM TV of the London 2012 Olympics slated to start on Friday July 27th 2012AD. Standing at a little over seven hundred thousand (700,000) Prepaid customers with the majority of that number being Prepaid, Telecom Provider LIME lacks the market penetration despite numerous Promotions for Mobile.

Thus their future growth does indeed lie in Mobile, mainly Fixed Line Voice Services such as Homefone Xpress and Data Services such Wireless 3G, 4G (that’s LTE for y’all, coming in 2013AD!!) and Fiber Optic Services such as FTTH (Fiber Optic to Home) as opined in my blog article entitled “LIME look to the future with new Services - Video and Audio Friends with Benefits in the Dead Zone” and LIME goes FTTH like Verizon's FiOS - Free ADSL after FTTH Mass Adoption”.

Thus a launch with entertainers MC Pretty Boy Floyd and dancing provided by L’Acadco Stilt Walkers, past Dancin' Dynamites dedicated for the people in Sir William Grant Park allowing customer to get a slice of the cake, symbolized by the gi-normous 8” by 8” cake is definitely Telecom Provider LIME’s Marketing Director Grace Silvera’s signature style and is spot on.

Long term, their best however lies in shoring up Postpaid, Mobile Data and Fixed Line Landline and Mobile Services which are actually on the rise as noted in my blog article entitled “OUR Records Voice Decline for the Fourth Quarter of 2010 - Postpaid, Data Services and Fixed Line Mobile and Landline Saturday Night Fever for Telecom Providers”.

The new LIME XL Value Campaign is best described by Telecom Provider LIME’s managing Director and CEO Gary Sinclair, quote:  “LIME has gone extra-large with our XL Value offer. There is no other network that gives you so much talk, texts and savings for your dollar. Our free nights start at 9 p.m., when you send three texts you get 100 free and our newest deal is 27 minutes free call time after you talk for just three”.

Like I said, it’s Gimme 5 with slightly more goodies in Voice Calling but with the missing component of free International Calling after three (3) minutes. Telecom Provider LIME apparently realizes that Telecom Provider Digicel JA$8.99 Flat Rate Calling Plan also serves the purpose of silently phasing out this aspect of Gimme 5 and encouraging customer to adopt a International Calling Plan as noted in my Geezam Blog article entitled “Digicel Introduces One Rate Calling for $8.99 in Jamaica”.

Thus, after watching Telecom Provider Digicel have a go at it since competition heated up with them and CLARO Jamaica they are doing the same thing. Cleverly, they are not making that mistake of offering free International Calling after a five (5) minute call while cloning Gimme 5.

Telecom Provider LIME has instead replaced the Five minute Local On-Net Voice Calling and five (5) SMS (Simple Messaging Service) or Text requirement with a Three (3) Minute Local On-Net Voice Calling and three (3) SMS (Simple Messaging Service) or Text requirement.

 LIME XL Value Promotions is a great offer and is an otherwise great way to boost Voice Calling on your GSM Voice Network. They’ve even throw in Bonus Credit of JA$100.00 for Prepaid customer at the start of the month, truly making this offer very sweet. Gimme 5, despite its free giveaway Voice and Text Services, is really a snippet of Postpaid services for Prepaid customers and is a great way to get customer interested in Postpaid.

This as Telecom Provider Digicel has now launched their Anywhere Minutes for Postpaid (DigiSelect) customers, the equivalent for their JA$8.99 Flat Rate Calling Plan for Prepaid (DigiFlex) as noted in my Geezam Blog article entitled “Digicel Introduces One Rate Calling for $8.99 in Jamaica”.

Coincidentally, this all comes some four (4) days after Telecom Provider LIME had announced their aggressively ramp up marketing in terms of pricing with huge drops in 3G Mobile Data slated to roll out on Tuesday May 1st 2012AD as stated in the article “LIME to slash prepaid mobile Internet rates May 1”, published Monday, April 16, 2012, The Jamaica Observer.

The official statement from Telecom Provider LIME on the coming aggressive ramp up in 3G mobile is subtle and to the point, quote: “Now, by lowering the cost of prepaid mobile Internet, LIME is making it even easier for a wider cross section of persons to access the Internet as customers can use readily available devices such as mobile phones to surf the Web and send e-mail, among other things”.

Telecom Provider LIME is getting ready to launch their “4G” Service to head off the coming low-cost wave of Municipal Wi-Fi (IEEE 802.11n) Services such as Dekal Wireless and Nubian-1 Tech Services Limited as prognosticated in my Geezam Blog article entitled “LIME’s 4G Experience Centers challenge the Rise of Dekal Wireless Dragon

Telecom Provider LIME 3G Mobile Broadband rates will as of Tuesday May 1st 2012AD EXACTLY match those of the stealthy Dekal Wireless and Nubian-1 Tech Services Limited, a strong indication of their fear of the slowly rising Dragon in this Year of the Dragon as asserted my Geezam Blog article entitled “LIME’s 4G Experience Centers challenge the Rise of Dekal Wireless Dragon”.

The rate reductions for 3G Mobile can be vividly seen in the attached Table below:

Interestingly, with the price declines come declines in the Data Caps, a sore point for many, as Telecom Provider LIME Prepaid 3G Data Service is not unlimited, but capped. Customers who exceed the Data Caps are ramped down in speed, as opposed to Telecom Provider Digicel which bills you at a rate of JA$15.00 per Megabyte exceeding the Data Cap for each Data Plan.

Clearly too, Telecom Provider LIME is also is being very bullish about the future. Especially as the improvement in the Remittance Sector as stated in the article Remittance Companies Bullish As Transfers Hit New Record published Sunday March 4, 2012 by Avia Colander, The Jamaica making many in the Banking Sector giddy.

So thus it’s clear that Telecom Provider LIME not only has great things in store for Voice and Data Services in Jamaica as it defends itself against the Rise of the Old Republic using Baby Cham’s “Wine”.

Honeywell partners with Immarsat for In-Flight Satellite Broadband in 2013AD - Konshens Gal a Bubble for Qualcomm Airplane Broadband

Honeywell International Inc, a company based in Morris Township, New Jersey, has decided to toss its hat into the Telecommunications ring. This as they announced on Wednesday April 18th 2012AD that they had forged a partnership with Satellite Broadband provider Inmarsat PLC to resell Satellite Broadband access and gear for In-flight Broadband as stated in the article “Honeywell signs Internet deal with Inmarsat”, published Thursday April 19, 2012, The Jamaica Gleaner.

This move is no surprise to watchers in the Telecommunications World, my world about which I blog, as Honeywell International Inc had purchased EMS Technologies Inc, a Mobile Equiptment and Satellite Equiptment Supplier in 2011AD, annexing the company’s business with its own aerospace business in Phoenix, Arizona. So a move into Satellite Broadband was inevitable, albeit the specialization as it relates to Airplane Broadband seemed a bit odd.

Honeywell International Inc and Inmarsat PLC partnership is almost as long and extensive as its partnership with ALCOA in the Alumina Mining Business in the form of QUASAR (Quality Automation Solutions for Alumina Refining) as described in my blog article entitled “Digicel cuts 120 Call Center Jobs - Fullgram Solutions to benefit as Antonio Graham speaks of an AEPP future by the Ocean”.

This partnership mainly revolves around the Aviation Business. Thus a further solidification of their long term business friendship with a joint venture into Telecommunications after the acquisition was most likely inevitable.

However, most industry watchers though that Honeywell International Inc would have gone into Satellite Broadband Voice Telephony for terrestrial Dwellers in remote hard to reach places. Possibly, many speculated, using their own Smartphone design (??) akin to the TerreStar Genus smart phone being sold by Telecom Provider AT&T as stated in my blog article entitled “Telecom Providers and Satellite Calling - For Your Eyes Only”.

Now that the dust has settled on the partnership with Inmarsat PLC, many have also speculated that the Honeywell International Inc should have done. Known in Alumina Mining World for its expertise in Process Control Technology such as their TPS (Total Plant Solution) currently being deployed at ALCOA  (Aluminum Company of Jamaica) part-owned Plant JAMALCO, PLC (Programmable Logic Controllers) and Cameras, many thought providing Satellite Broadband to people living in remote parts of the world was the aim.

After all, Inmarsat PLC is slated to launch their Satellite Broadband System named Global Xpress in 2013AD and plans to take the wraps off its new Satellite Broadband Network in 2014AD, just in time for FIFA world Cup 2014AD. As a Telecom Technician, I often debated the feasibility of Telecoms Providers renting access to satellites to customers in a business model geared at providing Data and VoIP-based Telephony to customers who were outside of commercially viable places in Jamaica for Landline and mobile Services.

This development follows on the heels of OC3 Communications, and their deployments of birds [satellites] to provide10Mbps Theoretical  Satellite Broadband to some one hundred and thirty five (135,000) Europeans by 2013AD as stated in the article “Arianne 5 brings Satellite broadband closer to home”, published 29 November, 2010 15:18 By Ben Woods, ZDNet UK.

A consortium of companies including the likes of Google, HSBC and The Development Bank of South Africa, their deployment began on November 26th 2010 with an Avanti Communications' Hylas 1 Satellite riding aboard an Arianne 5 rocket.

Similarly, Hughes Network Systems is also deploying a constellation of 100Gbps capacity Satellite capable of offering 20MBps theoretical. two million (2,000,000) customers is their aim, mainly persons living outside of the footprint of Terrestrial Telecom Provider Wireless and Wired Broadband Networks as stated in the article “Finally, broadband Satellite with real speed”, published November 9, 2010 4:00 AM PST by Marguerite Reardon, CNET News - Signal Strength.

With such a rapidly expanding market for Wireless Broadband untapped currently Terrestrial Telecom Provider Wireless and Wired Broadband Networks, these developments herald the coming of Satellite Broadband and VoIP Services to the “Other Three Billion” inhabitants of the world as envisioned in my article entitled “Telecom Providers and Satellite Broadband - Quantum of Solace and The Tourist”.

Even Developed countries such as the United States of America and Canada with vast wilderness still untamed by civilization in the form of Wired and Wireless Internet as stated in the article “Survey: 40 percent in U.S. have no broadband”, February 16, 2010 10:11 AM PST by Lance Whitney, CNET News – Wireless was ripe for the pickings.

But it seems that Honeywell International Inc realizes that the future of Satellite Broadband is in In-Flight Broadband. This as Telecom Equiptment Supplier Qualcomm is petitioning the FCC (Federal Communication Network) to use a swathe of unused 14MHz spectrum to develop what is effectively Airplane Wi-Fi called Next Gen-AG as described in my blog article entitled “Qualcomm to create Airplane Wi-Fi named Next Gen-AG using 500MHz of unused 14GHz spectrum - 300MBps in the Mile High Club”.

Even more interesting, this system may be capable of speeds of up to 300Mbps Theoretical if Telecom Equiptment Supplier Qualcomm if they decided to use their latest set of DSP (Digital Signal Processors) in their Next Gen-AG Gear for Airplane Wi-Fi as described in my blog article entitled “Qualcomm Atheros Chipsets to support the new 802.11ac Wi-Fi Standard - Municipal Wi-Fi Quantum of Solace”.

Thus the US$2.8 billion in business that that Honeywell International Inc and Inmarsat PLC expect to gain from both the manufacturer and retail of their version of Airplane Wi-Fi Gear as well as the Satellite Broadband Service is really a follow-on, West Indies Cricket Style, of the ambitions of Qualcomm in airplane Broadband. This as the now nascent field of Satellite Broadband is beginning Gal a Bubble by Konshens.

Certainly it does indeed confirm that for Satellite Broadband that Tomorrow Never Dies (1997)!