My Thoughts on Technology and Jamaica: September 2012

Thursday, September 27, 2012

How FLOW Jamaica and Digicel Networks can make Advertising revenue from VoiceMail and Free Calling

What’s one man’s poison, signoir,
Is another’s meat or drink

Beaumont and Fletcher, Love’s Cure, III, 2

Looks like the customers are restive again.

This time it’s due to a side effect of the lowering of the Mobile Cross Network, International and  On-Net Local Calling rates implemented since Sunday July 15th 2012AD date as noted in my blog article entitled “LIME's new TALK EZ Plan drops Cross Network Calling to JA$2.99 - Digicel's Game of Thrones vs LIME Return of the King” and my Geezam blog article entitled “LIME drops Cross Network Calling Rate to JA$6.99 to kick off a 3 year Battle for Mobile Market Dominance”: Increased Voice Traffic.

Telecom Provider LIME had reported that for the Second Quarter of 2012, they’d seen a 71% increase in Voice Traffic on their GSM Network. Which for them was translating into increased revenue as per my blog article entitled “LIME reports Voice Traffic up 71% in Second Quarter of 2012AD - ACS-Xerox loses contract to TELUS International as LIME becomes Mavado Money Changer”.

Apparently their hard promotional work as well as rate reductions were paying off… especially with such compelling services as the Gimme 5 Clone, LIME XL as noted in my blog article entitled 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”.

But it seems that this increase in revenue is coming at a price; degradation in Voice Services due to the Telecom Providers not increasing the T1 Digital Carrier Capacity within the MSC (Mobile Switching Centers) and the number of Cell Sites in their Networks to handle the incoming Crush of Calls that was sure as rain to come. After all, the true purpose of Prepaid Credit is really to control Network Traffic in much the same way a Policeman Controls Traffic; the Revenue earned is a mere side-effect driven mainly by Promotions and Marketing.

Customers are now complaining to the CACU (Consumer Advisory Committee on Utilities), an arm of the CAC (Consumer Affairs Commission), of calls on BOTH Telecom Providers winding up in Voicemail yet still being charged for using said Voicemail as stated in the article “Mobile users complain about Voicemail charges”, published Friday September 14, 2012 10:41 am, The Jamaica Gleaner.

For those who hardly use Voicemail, you are not alone. Voicemail is that little used Graveyard for Voice Calls on Telecom Networks, be it Fixed Line Landline or Mobile that, like SMS (Short Messaging Services) in Jamaica, is also in need of a facelift.

Ironically, creative means of making revenue from Voice Mail and Text messages already exists – Advertising. Customer of both Telecom Providers LIME and Digicel could be made to earn money if they decide to choose to allow advertisers to use their Voicemail and Text Message Accounts to advertise products.

Each time a Call made to the recipient’s number ends up being routed to Voicemail or whenever you send a text, the customer could be made to listen to an advertisement in their Voicemail box before being routed to Voicemail. The customer  could then be rewarded with JA$100 as a treat once they’ve been routed to Voicemail a preset threshold number of times for the day, say, about 10 times, just for listening to 10 ads from advertisers.

This type of advertising is effectively Behavioral Targeted Marketing, as persons reaching Voicemail are a captive audience in the few seconds before they’re routed to Voicemail or given an earful of Digicel InTunes as noted in my Geezam blog article entitledHow to set up and manage your Digicel InTunes Account”. This type of advertising is of the same ilk as my earlier ideas suggested to Telecom Provider Digicel called Brown Dawg Mobile Social Network as described in the series of Blog Articles on the topic:

This would encourage more persons to begin using more of the Mobile Phone Services such as that have falling into disuse:

1.      Voicemail
2.      SMS
3.      SMS Chat
4.      Voice Calling

This is natural for these service to be ignored by customers. Data Services become more popular and is the Telecom Provider’s new Money spinner as confirmed by the latest Statistics from the OUR (Office of Utilities Regulation) for the Second Quarter of 2011 when compared to the Second Quarter of 2010AD as stated in the article “Internet income up 138% as ... Telecoms revenue hits $14b mark”, published Wednesday September 19, 2012, The Jamaica Gleaner.

Avaya Networks, a popular supplier of VoIP Gear for Telecom Providers and Call Centers, seems to think so. This expressed confidence is clear in their launch of yet another VoIP Video Calling app with Enterprise Support in the form of Avaya Scopia as stated in the article “Avaya's Scopia will save on trips”, published Friday, September 21, 2012 BY NEKIESHA REID Business reporter, The Jamaica Observer.

So while GSM Voice experiences a renaissance to the point of clogging the Telecom Provider Networks with excess traffic and routing Calls to Voicemail, it also present a Hit and Run (2012) opportunity for them to monetize this boost in Traffic as a means of realizing higher revenues from unused GSM Voice Services i.e. Voicemail and SMS!

This as we prepare for the eventual future when ALL Traffic on a Telecom Providers Network will be Data on a 4G LTE (Long Term Evolution) Network as prophesied in my blog article entitled “Phillip Paulwell allocates 700Mhz and Fiber Optic License for LTE - Broadcasters effectively on notice for Digital Switch Over”.

Meanwhile GSM Voice, GPRS and EDGE Services will be free or used for M2M (Machine-to-Machine) Services as noted in my blog article entitled “Telecom Provider LIME and M2M Services - Free SMS and EDGE for the Caribbean to Foster Regional Integration”.

VoiP and Messaging Services powered by Avaya Networks will take up the slack where GSM Voice left off as prognosticated in my blog article entitledDigicel and Avaya Communications launch Avaya Aura for SME's - LIME and Digicel in a Step Up Revolution towards GSM Voice Extinction”.

Monday, September 24, 2012

JPS Co parents Marubeni and EWP mull decision to supply LNG - GOJ to eat Humble Pie to avoid an Ice Age Continental Drift

If everybody in the world converts natural gas and no one uses fuel oil for then what happens is the price of fuel oil would probably drop to almost nothing. It's no different from investing in your own personal financing, you want a diversified portfolio. So you can survive through the good and the bad.

Jerome Maxwell, Managing Director of Jamalco at the Gleaner Editor's Forum on August 14 2012AD

In a strange and shocking about-face, the GOJ (Government of Jamaica) has decided to abandon plans to use LNG (Liquid Natural Gas) as a means of lowering the cost of electricity for customers and major users of Electricity, namely the Bauxite Companies as stated in the article “Dumped! Government to throw out LNG project”, published September 23, 2012 by Arthur Hall, Senior News Editor, The Jamaica Gleaner.

Naturally the JLP Opposition spokesman on Energy Gregory Mair is upset as stated in the article “Mair disapproves of gov't abandoning LNG project”, published Sunday September 23, 2012, The Jamaica Gleaner. However, JPS Co (Jamaica Public Service Company) must be counting their lucky stars that the GOJ is backing out and possibly giving them the go ahead to both build the LNG Power Plant and Supply the LNG as well as suggested by the article “ JPS awaits meeting with Paulwell before commenting on LNG shift”, published Sunday September 23, 2012, The Jamaica Gleaner.

Minister of Science, Technology, Energy and Mining Philip Paulwell is currently in Japan on GOJ business, most likely on negotiations with Marubeni of Japan, one of the majority shareholders in JPS Co. He’s slated to comment on this new development in Parliament next month October 2012AD.

No doubt, due to the billions of taxpayers’ dollars sunk into this project thus far, both Television Jamaica and CVM TV will be carrying his announcement in Parliament on this matter of National Importance live. This as everyone in Jamaica may still be in shock by the time he returns from Japan, as was I, on reading The Sunday Gleaner dated Sunday September 23rd, 2012.

It would appear that the plans to get a supply of LNG (Liquid Natural Gas) have now shifted from the GOJ running the show as suggested by my blog article entitled “Phillip Paulwell wants as bigger stake in the LNG Plant - Mr. Vegas Bruk it Down as Jamaica Courts Trinidad and Tobago for LNG” to backup Plan B and C. This would involve the JPS Co’s parents and majority shareholders, Marubeni of Japan and EWP (East West Power) of South Korea, being allowed to source the LNG and build Jamaica’s first LNG Plant as stated in my Geezam blog article “JPS Co to build Jamaica’s first Gas Turbine Power Plant in St. Catherine”.

I guess this would put a damper on ongoing talks with Trinidad and Tobago for access to their supply of LNG since July 2012AD as stated in the article “Jamaica, Trinidad LNG Talks Continue”, published Friday July 20, 2012 12:57 pm, The Jamaica Gleaner.

And yet Jamaica can get access to LNG from Asia via JPS Co’s Main owner, Marubeni of South Korea, but amusingly only if the GOJ admits to being too strict when it comes to deadlines for LNG Procurement Contracts as stated in the article “Will JPS save the LNG project?,” published Sunday September 9, 2012, The Jamaica Gleaner. After all is said and done, being Marubeni being five minutes late for the handing in of documents at 5 pm is really being a bit too strict.

Especially when you look at the fact that their Bid would have guaranteed a sure supply of LNG which would have been in the interests of BOTH the GOJ and JPS Co could have solved this LNG Debacle a long time ago. A JPS Co reaction thus far in sticking to the letter of the Law as it relates to argueing their rights in terms of holding on to their twenty (20) year Exclusive All-Island Electricity Distribution License may be in fact merely a reaction to this snub!

JPS Co has an interest in the LNG Plant Project going forward, despite their utterances to the contrary and selling the GOJ LNG would benefit them as it would offset the cost of the plant by allowing Marubeni of Japan and EWP (East West Power) of South Korea to make additional revenue via the supply of cheaper LNG to Jamaica and its CARICOM partners from East Asia as argued in my blog article entitled “LNG from Trinidad and Tobago and the Energy Security of Jamaica”.
Despite the procurement of the services of international LNG Floating Regasification Contractor Samsung C&T Corporation of Korea as chronicled 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”, we are no closer to building the LNG Plant since the start of the year either, as the main players are getting cold feet.

Worse news is now coming out, as it appears that this one LNG Plant’s construction and its promised supply of LNG may even not be enough to save Jamaica and may in fact do little to lower the cost of Energy as stated in the article “Smell of death hits LNG idea”, published Sunday September 9, 2012, Gary Spaulding, Senior Gleaner Writer, The Jamaica Gleaner. 

Bauxite Companies such as US Rusal owned Windalco and ALCOA (Alumina Partners of America), partner with the GOJ (Government of Jamaica) to run Halse Hall based JAMALCO who are by far the largest users of Energy in Jamaica in terms of Electricity and Bunker “C” Fuel Oil have a great stake and say in the GOJ’s choice of fuel.

If the price is not sustainable over a twenty (20) year or longer period, they are not going to support its purchase for use in their Boilers as it would not be profitable long term, putting the whole issue of using LNG in the first place in a quandary once more.

This despite “fruitful” high-level negotiations involving Prime Minister Portia Simpson Milller Minister of Energy and Mining Phillip Paulwell with assistance from Chairman of Clarendon Alumina Partners, Dr. Vin Lawrence and Mining Industry expert Dr. Carlton Davis as stated in my blog article entitled “PM Portia Simpson Milller ALCOA Talks hint at LNG - Lady Gaga's Paparazzi in Jamaica's  Bauxite Sector”.

Their views, which they expressed at the Gleaner Editor's Forum on August 14 2012AD is that the GOJ needs to seek to diversify its mix of Energy instead of focusing solely on LNG as the savior stated in the article “LNG not enough says bauxite companies”, published Wednesday August 15, 2012, The Jamaica Gleaner.

The sentiments of Jerome Maxwell, Managing Director of JAMALCO that expresses the need for diversification of the Energy Mix in much the same way one diversifies their portfolio of Investments to survive the swells and doldrums of the investment market.

UC Rusal country Manager Igor Dorofeev expressed similar sentiments in support of the GOJ adopting a more diversified approach to Energy suggesting that they focus on a mix and not lean on LNG as a saviour, quote: “Who can say in 10 years' time that gas will not be more expensive than coal and Jamaica would end up in the same situation as before. So the obvious way is to diversify, use everything”.

Top on the list were the development of the following, with my comments:

1.      Biogas is a good idea, as most household and the Agricultural Sector do generate tons of Sewage and can lead to houses generating their own power
3.      Coal (too expensive and environmentally polluting but stable long term in terms of Price; requires a well connected FDI)
4.      CNG (Compressed Natural Gas), the Gas form of LNG
5.      Solar, which Canadian Solamon Energy Corp of Canada and American Green Energy RG are currently investing as per my blog article entitled “Solamon Energy Corp & Green RG invest in Jamaica's Alternative Energy Future - Let the Cheaper Energy Hunger Games for Latin America Begin”.
6.      Hydro-Electric for which the PCJ (Petroleum Corporation of Jamaica) has been accepting bids since last year as stated in “PCJ accepting bids for hydropower projects”, Published Friday December 2, 2011, The Jamaica Gleaner
7.      Wind expansion of Wigton Wind Farm is ongoing as noted in the article “Wigton Windfarm wins engineering project award”, published Wednesday November 30, 2011, The Jamaica Gleaner.
8.      Nuclear Power, which is cheap, clean and very efficient as argued by Minister Paulwell, a suggestion defended in my blog article entitled Phillip Pauwell's Nuclear Power in a Bathtub - SilkWood meets the China Syndrome

It is obvious that the GOJ is cash-strapped, as this choice of Diversification should have been the mantra of the PNP- led GOJ from the Get-go. Diversification is heavily dependent on investment in the Energy Sector by FDI (Foreign Direct Investors) coming into a Liberalized Energy Sector.

To this end, Minister of Science, Technology Energy and Mining Phillip Paulwell is working to create, whether via negotiations or Legal means the breaking JPS Co (Jamaica Public Service company’s) stranglehold on Electricity Production and Distribution via their 20 year Exclusive license.

So far, the efforts of Dennis Meadows, Betty Ann Blaine and Cyrus Rousseau led CURE (Citizens United for the Reduction of the Cost of Electricity) victory over JPS Co via the ruling handed down by Supreme Court Justice Bryan Sykes has been a pyrrhic victory at least as lauded as stated in my blog article entitled “Justice Brian Sykes says JPS Co exclusive license invalid - Energy Sector Liberalization CURE and Bourne Legacy for Phillip Paulwell”.

The JPS Co has appealed the decision as stated in the article JPS appeals licence ruling, published Thursday August 30, 2012 Barbara Gayle, Justice Coordinator, The Jamaica Gleaner. Legal action by the JPS Co will drag on for another five (5) more years of reviews by the Appellate and even Privy Council or CCJ (Caribbean Court Of Justice), depending on how the future pans out for the Justice System as noted by the lack of common ground on the issue in “Deadlock on CCJ”, Published Sunday September 9, 2012, The Jamaica Gleaner.

Much as the Bauxite companies are unwilling to pay for LNG if it’s too expensive and the price is unstable, the JPS Co is also not willing to commit funds to the LNG project if a stable priced source of LNG is not found. This is the position argued by Dan Theoc, JPS Co’s Chief Financial Officer at a Press Briefing held by the JPS Co and the Government in February of 2012AD as per in my blog article entitled “Phillip Paulwell wants Full Energy Sector Liberalization – JPS Co’s Dan Theoc holding on to his Hard End”.

So how to move forward with this looming deadlock from the Bauxite Companies over GOJ’s need to diversity, the unstable price and uncertainty of Supply of LNG and JPS Co unwillingness to give up its exclusive All-Island Power Distribution License?

Making one of the Private Sector Partners a direct financial beneficiary from the LNG Project via making one of the partners the supplier of LNG seems to be the answer to stable LNG supply and prices as suggested in the article “Will JPS save the LNG project?,” published Sunday September 9, 2012, The Jamaica Gleaner.

This is the diplomatic thing to do is for the GOJ to admit to being wrong about penalizing Marubeni for its late LNG Supply Bid and allow Marubeni to resubmit their Bid to procure the LNG. Also, the GOJ needs to allow the Bauxite companies to also submit bids as well for LNG supply, if they so choose. In Private Sector hands, the focus would be on efficiency as opposed to the bureaucracy crazed GOJ having control and running an LNG Power Plant and supplying LNG.

The supply of LNG will impact these largest users of Energy who have a vested interest in their own Energy Security. Good enough a reason for having them become members of the Jamaica Gas Trust and supply the LNG at the same time as argued in my blog article entitled “Phillip Paulwell wants as bigger stake in the LNG Plant - Mr. Vegas Bruk it Down as Jamaica Courts Trinidad and Tobago for LNG” and “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”.

But it will also affect the rest of Jamaica, not only in terms of lower Electricity prices, but in terms of lowering the cost of Motor Vehicle fuel and maintenance. Plentiful supply of cheap LNG from the Far East means that more Personal Vehicles and Vehicle Fleet owners will find it cost effective to convert their vehicles to run on LPG as noted in my Geezam blog article entitled “Auto LPG as a Motor Vehicle Fuel”.

In addition, cheaper Electricity costs would also mean that more Jamaicans could now opt to purchase All-Electric Vehicles as hoped for in my blog article entitled “ATL Automotive to benefit from Low-Sulphur Diesel in 12 Months Time - Bio-Fuels Resident Evil Apocalypse” and “Porteon to manufacture All-Electric Vehicles in St. Lucia - Strengthening CARICOM ties with Jamaican Skilled Labour”.

But it’s the future that is truly at stake here and I hope Minister of Science, Technology Energy and Mining Phillip Paulwell is clearly able to see: Hydrogen-Electron Economy by 2030AD as suggested in my blog article entitled “Senator Phillip Paulwell chooses LNG over Coal - Power Engineers in Steven King's Graveyard Shift”.

This as the adoption of LNG, whether GOJ or Private Sector funded, is the first step towards Energy Sector Diversification and lowering our overall Electricity and Fuel Bill! Other parts of the Energy Diversification Strategy can come into play later, as the GOJ is currently unable to fully fund them all.

We as an island nation are solely dependent on the benevolence of FDI’s coming to Jamaica to invest in our Energy Sector. Consequently a Liberalized Energy Sector with facilities such as Net Billing and Power Wheeling as described in my blog article entitled “Phillip Paulwell makes Net Billing official with 11 licenses issued - JPS Co invited via Mavado's Come Round a Mi Yard” must exist in order to attract encourage FDI’s to invest and thus bring about lower Electricity and Fuel costs we so fondly desire.

Easy access to information on Jamaica’s resources as provided by the MONAGIS (Mona Geo-Informatics) and JAMPRO (Jamaica Promotions) Interactive Investment Map as described in my Geezam Blog article entitled “JAMPRO, MonaGIS and the Interactive Investment Map – Consider.Evaluate.Act” is also a big help.

By this first step into LNG, Jamaica is basically on the path towards transitioning to a Hydrogen- Electron Economy as almost every household in the future would benefit from lower costs of having a single bill for Energy rather than separate bills for Electricity and Motor Vehicle Fuel.

And all the GOJ has to do is eat some Humble Pie and allow the eventual beneficiaries of LNG and the LNG Plant including Marubeni of Japan and EWP (East West Power) of South Korea, owner of JPS co and ALCOA and US Rusal to submit bid for the procurement and supply of LNG so as to avoid Jamaica’s Energy Sector falling into an Ice Age: Continental Drift (2012).