My Thoughts on Technology and Jamaica: Digicel rolls out DigiHome, their first Residential Postpaid Fixed Line Service - Ramp up for Landline Number Portability and LIME’s Homefone XPress


Saturday, September 14, 2013

Digicel rolls out DigiHome, their first Residential Postpaid Fixed Line Service - Ramp up for Landline Number Portability and LIME’s Homefone XPress

“We have heard the dissatisfaction from Customers with their current options and we are delighted to be launching our best value DigiHome product. It is affordable, convenient to set up and unlike other options in the market, comes with bundled minutes as a part of your subscription fee,”

Excerpt from the interview with Digicel CEO Barry O’Brien on Friday September 13th 2013 by the Jamaica Observer

However, albeit it is a Postpaid Mobile Product, it isn’t exactly what I thought. Telecom Provider Digicel on Friday September 13th 2013 launched a Fixed Line Mobile Product called DigiHome to challenge the Residential Section of the Telecoms Market as stated in “Digicel introduces fixed line service”, Published Friday September 13, 2013 11:12 am, The Jamaica Gleaner and “Digicel enters fixed line market”, published Friday, September 13, 2013 9:08 AM, The Jamaica Observer.

What is Fixed Line Mobile – Resurrection of LIME’s Homefone XPress

If you’re confused by the distinction between Fixed Line Landline and Fixed Line Mobile, the differences are as obvious as the name. Fixed Line Landline services are based on twisted pair copper wires that are part of a POTS (Plain Old Telephone System) Network and are a physical infrastructure Network. Fixed Line Mobile is Wireless; no wires carry the signal to the instrument, which instead relies on the GSM (Global System Mobile) to carry Voice.

Also Fixed Line Mobile, as the name implies, is fixed in one physical location, with the instrument being associated or “locked” to a particular Sector on the Mobile Cell Tower. Thus the customer can’t take up the Fixed Mobile Device and go to a different part of the island and make calls. They can ONLY make calls if they remain in the same geographical coverage area for that particular Sector on that particular Mobile Tower.

DigiHome is a lot like Telecom Provider LIME Homefone Xpress as described in my blog article entitled “LIME Landline Rental Increase and HomeFone XPress - The Dead Zone is the Sum of All Fears. It also mimics DigiBusiness Services, which also has Fixed Line Mobile, the difference here being is that it’s for Residential Customers instead of Business Customers.

In the case of Telecom Provider Digicel’s product, it also has a 3G Modem built in, so it can access both the GSM and 3G Mobile Networks, delivering Internet access to the Customer via the RJ-45 port at  the back of the instrument or via Wi-Fi. Installation is the same as DigiBusiness; you carry the instrument home and you plug it in.

Then the DigiHome product locks on to the nearest GSM cell Tower in Telecom Provider Digicel’s Network. Because it’s a Fixed Line Mobile Device, Telecom Provider Digicel’s Network associates the Fixed Line Mobile Device to that Sector of that Mobile Tower, so be careful where you decide to open and plug it in, as once it’s locked, getting it unlocked means going through a procedure to disassociate the Fixed Line Mobile Device from that Sector on the Mobile Tower.

DigiHome also has a few features that should be familiar to those of my readers, mostly Millennials (ages 18 to 28) who’ve never really seen or even used a Landline before, muchless Postpaid Mobile:

1.      Per second Billing
2.      VAS (Value Added Services) such as Free voicemail, caller ID and call waiting
3.      Bundled minutes to call Digicel Local Fixed Line & Mobile phones
4.      Bundled minutes to call Telecom Provider LIME Landline numbers
5.      Bundled minutes to call USA, Canada, UK Landlines, Spain Landlines, China, India
6.      Bundled minutes to call Digicel regional and Caribbean territories

How to set up DigiHome – Postpaid Landline Calling Paradise

Telecom Provider Digicel had already launched their service in the Fiji Islands in the South Pacific Islands, Trinidad and Tobago,  St. Kitts and Nevis and the BVI (British Virgin Island) here in the Caribbean since 2012 as stated in “Digicel BVI unveils fixed-wireless ‘DigiHome’ product”, published 18 Jun 2012, TeleGeography. Thus Jamaica is the last to get this service which Telecom Provider Digicel has tested out on other guinea pigs first, a good sign that at least we’re getting a tried-and-tested product!

To get a Digicel’s DigiHome product, you need the following according to their DigiHome’s FAQ on Digicel’s website:

  1. A completed application form
  2. Deposit for the desired plan  
  3. TRN
  4. Two different utility bills (must be dated within last 3 months)
  5. Valid Government issued photo ID

You then purchase the DigiHome product for about J$2,650 + GCT which comes with a seven (7) day warranty within which time if the product has a defect, you can return it. You’ll get:

  1. A DigiHome device (Power source needed for the device)
  2. SIM (Subscriber Identification Module) tied to one of the plans below

You then purchase one of their (2) postpaid plans shown below:

Note: This SIM Card is SIM-locked to the DigiHome device. If you attempt to use it in a Mobile phone, Telecom Provider Digicel blocks the SIM PERMANENTLY. So just don’t try it!

You’ll also have to purchase your own Landline phone to plug into the phone jack in the back of the DigiHome Device as well as a computer to connect to the Internet, which requires you to be in an area that has Digicel 4G Mobile Service in order to work! The DigiHome product can facilitate the connection of up to five (5) Wi-Fi enabled devices or four (4) devices via the Ethernet port using a RJ-45 connector

Thanks to the new Rates, the Calling Rates for DigiHome are predictably lower than Postpaid Mobile and comparable to Telecom Provider LIME Landline Service. The calling rates are as listed below:

Note: You can get 4G Data but only if there is Coverage for the service in your area. Otherwise you’ll be unable to access the Internet. Once you exceed the 10GB cap, your automatically dropped to EDGE (Enhanced Data Rate for GSM Evolution) speed and charged at JA$50.00 per Megabyte

To get International Calling, you’ll have to pay an extra JA$900 to get an International Calling Bundle of 900 Minute. This is a bit of a letdown, as I was hoping for international Calling minute similar to those as described in my Geezam blog article entitled “How to set up an International Calling Plan for Digicel or LIME Prepaid and Postpaid”. Ditto to the 10GB Data bundle, which has to be improved before a Prepaid Version can be rolled out and gain any significant traction in the Millennial (age 18 to 28) market!

Once you have the DigiHome produce and the Plan activated, you just plug in the device and you’re good to go. Call 146 for Digicel Customer Care to assist you with any queries you may have or check the DigiHome’s FAQ on Digicel’s website!

Why Telecom Provider Digicel now going into Fixed Line Mobile – Generation X

In addition, Telecom Provider Digicel has argued that there was a need for LNP (Landline Number Portability) as MNP (Mobile Number Portability), would only focus on making the numbers of Mobile phones portable across Networks. This did not include Landline numbers, a service traditionally run by Telecom Provider LIME as stated 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“.

The Ministry of Science, Technology, Energy and Mining agreed. Thus May 2014 is set as the date when MNP and LNP will be implemented, as by then they would have found a suitable contractor to mediate Portability among the various Telecom Providers in Jamaica as argued in my blog article entitled “OUR sets Cross-Network Rates at JA$1.10 as of Monday July 1 2013 - Everything is Possible as we’re Zombies for Data World War Z”.

Telecom Provider Digicel’s DigiHome is really a ramp up of a Postpaid Fixed Line Mobile Service so that by the time Customers, mostly Generation X’s (ages 28 to 45) are ready to switch their numbers using the soon-to-be-available MNP and LNP Services, they’ll have an alternative that’s familiar to Customers and has the same appearance and ease of use as a Landline phone. Plus it comes with Broadband Wireless Internet built in, making the instruments more than just phones for Voice Calling.

Truth be told, Customers who have a Landline could just as easily port their number to a Mobile phone. But that means dealing with the issue of phones being stolen or lost. A Fixed Line Mobile unit keeps the phone in the business place or at Home, hence the name DigiHome.

It’s more comfortable to make call from your home or business place where it quieter and more relaxed, a trend that FLOW’s Landline Services takes advantage of as argued in my blog article entitled “Flow at odds with over Cross-Network rates for Fixed Line - Total Recall of the coming Importance of Triple Play Services”.

It also helps to differentiate between a Mobile phone and a Landline-esque type of service, an important distinction as most Customers like Telecom Provider Digicel Services and so wish to port to Telecom Provider Digicel but want to keep their Mobile lives (on the Road) and Office or Home Lives separate.

Digicel Prepaid DigiHome in 2014 - Millennials LIME Homefone XPress

So albeit this may seem a tad odd to Millennials (ages 18 to 28) as why anyone would buy a Fixed Line Mobile Devices, muchless on Postpaid, rest assured it’s no different than having a second phone that everyone can call your Home or Business where you most comfortable, with your Mobile phone reverting back to being a Private Number that only special callers you know personally can reach you.

It’s similar to the trend among Millennials (ages 18 to 28) towards having a Dual-SIM smartphone as explained in my Geezam blog article entitled “Trend towards Dual-SIM Smartphones developing in Jamaica as MNP Approaches”, with one number being reserved as Private and the other being a Public number other persons can call you on, with both numbers being on the same or different phone numbers

For the Millennials (ages 18 to 28), a Prepaid package is coming in 2014. Telecom Provider Digicel no doubt is avoiding Prepaid as it’s not profitable as evidence from the fact that Telecom Provider LIME has discontinued their Fixed Line Mobile service, Homefone Xpress Service, which was Prepaid and albeit popular, wasn’t making them much revenue.

Very likely, though, Telecom Provider LIME may revisit and possibly relaunch this product, but with the intent of staving off Telecom Provider Digicel’s play for their Landline Customers as well as to expand Fixed Line Services through Jamaica with a 3G Option wherever they have Mobile Coverage.

Millennials (ages 18 to 28), based on the dual-functionality of being a device for Voice Calling as well as for Data Services, may gravitate towards Fixed Line Mobile, but more research need to be done to make sure they’ll make revenue from the service this time around.
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