My Thoughts on Technology and Jamaica: Phillip Paulwell allocates 700Mhz and Fiber Optic License for LTE - Broadcasters effectively on notice for Digital Switch Over

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Phillip Paulwell allocates 700Mhz and Fiber Optic License for LTE - Broadcasters effectively on notice for Digital Switch Over

Minister of Science Technology Energy and Mining Phillip Paulwell is definitely on a tear since Sunday July 15th 2012AD. On that ominous and oft-repeated date, the OUR (Office of Utilities Regulation), the interim Telecom Regulator, set the Cross Network and International Calling Rates to JA$5.00 and JA$3.00 respectively.

The Tax on Telecom Providers as laid out in my blog article entitled “GOJ taxes Telecom Providers and OUR sets Cross Network and International Calling Rate at JA$5.00 - Data Services Prometheus was also administered on that day.  The three (3) Big Telecom Providers decided to work with it and set their plans into action to profit from the new Regulatory Framework. This now leaves MNP (Mobile Number Portability) as being the last piece of the puzzle to make the Telecom Sector Landscape complete.

Minister Paulwell has already promised this for December 2012AD as stated in the article “Paulwell promises number portability by December”, published Sunday, June 17, 2012 BY CONRAD HAMILTON Senior staff reporter, The Jamaica Observer. But it might come earlier, if Telecom Provider Digicel’s call for an early swift implementation of MNP is heeded by Minister Paulwell as noted in the article “Cellphone number portability lagging”, published Monday July 16, 2012, The Jamaica Gleaner.

Telecom Provider Digicel argues that MNP should include Fixed Lines (Mobile and Landline) is acknowledged by the Ministry of Science Technology Energy and Mining to which Telecom Provider LIME accedes as noted in article “LIME not fazed by calls for landline number portability” Published Monday July 16, 2012, The Jamaica Gleaner.

An incredible about turn from a previously held position by both Telecom Providers in 2009AD as noted in my blog article entitled “Digicel calls for MNP for Fixed Line - LIME's Brave Homefone Xpress coming with Telecoms Tax and Flat Rate Tariff”.

As if this was not enough, Minister of Science Technology Energy and Mining Phillip Paulwellhas now given new hope to contractors, RF Technicians and Telecom Engineers who work in the Telecoms Field. On Tuesday July 24th 2012AD, exactly nine (9) days after the Telecom Tax/Flat Rate Double whammie, Minister Phillip Paulwell announced in Parliament that the SMA (Spectrum Management Authority) would be:

1.      Allocating a Spectrum license in the 700MHz Band for another Telecom Provider to come to Jamaica to do LTE (Long Term Evolution) Wireless BroadbandInternet
2.      Allocating a license for Fiber-Optic Cable laying, which based on my sources will be administered by the OUR

This as stated in the article “Samsung snags LNG project”, published Wednesday July 25, 2012, The Jamaica Gleaner and officially via the GOJ (Government of Jamaica) mouthpiece, the JIS (Jamaica Information Service) in the article “Gov't Looking at 700 Mhz Band for Analogue TV Broadcasting”, published Thursday, 26 July 2012 10:34, Jamaica Information Service.

Wonderful news which he also announced alongside the LNG Committee’s choice via their strict procurement procedures of Samsung C&T Corporation of Korea as the contractor to build the Floating LNG Storage and Regasification works.

The news in the Energy Sector is a boon to Jamaica’s Manufacturing in the next three (3) years as noted in my blog article entitled “Samsung C&T Corp of Korea secured for LNG Regasification Plant and Pipelines - Jamaican Contractors to benefit from National Project to Secure Jamaica's Energy Future”.

According to his statement in Parliament on Tuesday July 24th 2012AD, the grand announcement was made, quote: “Mr Speaker, we intend to allocate one licence for the 700 Spectrum by auction, for which there will be a reserve price. We will also attach to that award a new international fibre-optic cable licence. This will allow video-sharing, surveillance, conferencing and streaming in Higher definition than is possible with existing 3G technologies”.

Thus despite the reporter’s slant of the article, the obvious is clear to those in the Telecom’s Industry; whoever gets this license for the 700MHz Band will also have the option to build out their backhaul using Fiber-Optic instead of IPRAN (Internet Protocol Radio Access Network). Added to this fact that BOTH Licenses for the Spectrum and the Fiber-Optic are available at a reserve price in one package; an indication of the thinking of Minister Phillip Paulwell as FDI (Foreign Direct Inventors) get ready for bidding on a Budget.

The norm thus far for Telecom Providers has been to use Microwave links in an IPRAN Backhaul to interconnect their Node B’s in their GSM Voice or 3G Data Networks as this is cheaper to implement.

But LTE, which is capable of speeds of up to 100MBps, needs Fiber-Optic as it backhaul. Microwave links develop power consumption, signal stability as well as Latency issues at Higher Network clock speeds as pointed out in my Geezam blog article entitled “How to Access LIME or Digicel’s 3G Internet using an unlocked Huawei E1556 Modem Dongle or Nokia Modem Dongle”.

A Fiber-Optic License neatly solves this problem, allowing the bidder for this Spectrum to exercise this option as their backhaul and thus ensure quality business-grade LTE Service. Critical to get Businesses excited about using such speeds, being that at speeds of 100MBps, the prices will be only affordable in the immediate short term by Commercial interests.

These concerns of Business customer for the usage of Wireless Broadband has been noted in several past articles:

As for Residential customers, at such speeds of 100MBps would have to be marketed as a Wireless WideBand with some VAS (Value Added Services) as prognosticated in my blog articles entitled “Telecom Providers, 100MBps Broadband and the Broadcasting Commission - Redemption Song” as well as the article “Telecom Provider and 100MBps - Diamonds are Forever”. This is to ensure that the majority of customers are Postpaid Customers. VAS such as:

1.      Video Calling
2.      3D HDTV
3.      Real Time Backup Services
4.      Cloud Telephony i.e. VoIP

But what is more interesting is the SpectrumBand itself. 700MHz is in the lower part of the UHF (Ultra HighFrequency) Band that is normally reserved for Free-to-Air Broadcasters for channels 52 to 68 in the NTSC (National Television Systems Committee) Analog channel allocation as per the list at Standard NTSC Television Frequencies. Since Free-to-Air Broadcasters are not using these Bands.

In fact, the Free-to-Air Broadcasters are slated to go DSO (Digital Switch Over) by 2015AD by the Broadcasting Commission as stated in the article “Timeline set for digital switchover; Broadcasting Commission, media group disagree on pace”, published Sunday November 21, 2010 by Mark Titus, Business Reporter, The Jamaica Gleaner. The RJR Communications Group and the CVM Communications Group, both Free-to-Air Radio and Television, are literally living on borrowed time.

With this declared tranche of Spectrum, the Spectrum Management Authority will definitely be looking for more unused Spectrum to deliver Broadband services in the UHF (Ultra High Frequency) and even the VHF (Very High Frequency) Band as hinted in my blog articles entitled “Broadcasting and Digital Switch Over -Back to the Future to compete with LIME TV”.

Want more concrete reasoning for the above prediction?

Well, the fact that the Bandwidth used for true 4G is the same as 3G i.e. 5MHz, which is a little smaller than NTSC (National Television Standards Committee) Bandwidth of 6MHz, hints at the strong possibility that the next Bands that will be targeted by Minister Phillip Paulwell and the SMA will be those in the VHF and UHF Bands.

A definite sign that the users of the Free-To-Air Television frequencies will have to go DSO in a bid to more efficiently use the Spectrum for DTT (Digital Terrestrial Television) and Broadband Internet services which can be used for IPTV (Internet Protocol Television)as stated in my blog articles entitled “Broadcasting and Digital Switch Over -Back to the Future to compete with LIME TV”.

Thus Free-To-Air Broadcasters will not need these frequencies and their HighBandwidth and reduced attenuation by metallic structures in buildings makes them excellent for low-latency High speed LTE Networks. Due to the protocol subset of LTE, this potential coming Telecom Provider would have to build out a GSM (Global System Mobile) Network, as the SIM Cards are needed as authentication of UE (User Equiptment) that can access that Telecom Provider’s the Network to use the LTE service.

This coming HeterogenousNetwork i.e. 2 Network-in-one; Voice and Data Networks, built on this new 700MHz Spectrum, the details of which are yet to be ratified, has yet another attribute that makes it attractive: lower power consumption. This as at the 700MHz Band, the power consumption of the WCDMA (WideBand Code Division Multiple Access) protocol encodes symbols using QAM (Quadrature Amplitude Modulation) is considerably less energy than conventional 850MHz, 1800MHz or 1900MHz SpectrumNetworks.

For this reason, I’m going to go out on a limb and predict that with the rising cost of Electricity and power, the potential coming Telecom Provider will be using lower power Equiptment, such as Alcatel-Lucent mini Node B as described in prognosticated in my blog articles entitled “Telecom Providers, Alternative Energy and ISO9001 - Alcatel-Lucent, I shrunk the Node B Kids”.

They may even be using Solar and wind Power as a source of Prime Power to power their gear as argued in my mini-series set of articles on the use of Alternative Energy in Telecoms:

To summarize, Minister Phillip Paulwell’s 700MHz Band allocation indicates preparations are underway for a coming future LTE Telecom Provider. In the same breath, Minister Phillip Paulwell is basically putting the Free-To-Air Broadcasters on Notice to progress with their plans for DSO (Digital Switch Over) in 2015AD.

This as the SMA will definitely be coming for more Spectrum to satisfy the coming crush of demand for Wireless Data Services as predicted 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”.


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