My Thoughts on Technology and Jamaica: Digicel to invest US$85 million in 4G LTE Network - 25% of Total revenue from ICT as 4G LTE Investments designed to weather the coming Summer WhatsApp Storm

Monday, April 21, 2014

Digicel to invest US$85 million in 4G LTE Network - 25% of Total revenue from ICT as 4G LTE Investments designed to weather the coming Summer WhatsApp Storm

“We now have nearly one million active users using data on their mobile phones in Jamaica, and we experienced a greater than 150 per cent increase in subscribers on our fourth-generation network using data in our last financial year......"Jamaica is picking up on global trends and that can only be good for Jamaica as a whole”

CEO of Digicel Barry O'Brien during an address to the Jamaica Employers' Federation latest CEO Breakfast Forum on Wednesday April 9th 2014

Telecom Provider Digicel is pushing ahead with their ambitious Plans to launch 4G LTE (Long Term Evolution) and expand their ICT (Information and Computing Technology) footprint despite the coming challenge to their Voice Services as stated in “Digicel aims to double ICT business”, Published Friday April 11, 2014, The Jamaica Gleaner.

Telecom Provider Digicel’s Plans and their Roadmap for the next eighteen (18) months was laid out during an address to the Jamaica Employers' Federation latest CEO Breakfast Forum on Wednesday April 9th 2014 by CEO of Digicel Barry O'Brien.

Not one to back down from a challenge, they’re instead embracing the coming changes in the Telecoms Industry in Jamaica by WhatsApp as indicated in the article “WhatsApp driving mobile data boom”, published Friday, April 11, 2014 BY JULIAN RICHARDSON Assistant Business Co-ordinator, The Jamaica Observer.

After all, it was expected, as Voice Services wasn’t going to last forever to quote Digicel CEO Barry O'Brien: “Core revenues are under pressure from VoIP communications and downward pricing pressure. We have to reinvent ourselves constantly”.

Their challenge is the coming of VoIP Calling over 3G/4G LTE Wireless Broadband Network in the Second Quarter of 2014 from popular Mobile Social Network WhatsApp, now the property of Facebook as stated in my blog article entitled “WhatsApp VoIP Calling in Second Quarter of 2014 - WhatsApp kills International Calling at the Advent of Facetime-eqsue Premium Video VoIP Calling on smartphones”.

Digicel aims for 25% of revenue from ICT  - US$85 million Investments to weather the coming WhatsApp Storm

Their focus on IT (Information Technology) seems to be paying off and was a decision made just in the nick of time. By “focus” I’m referring to their sale of Digicel Branded smartphones, the DL600 and the DL700 as pointed out in my blog article entitledJamaicans fall in love with Digicel's DL600 and DL700 during Christmas 2013 - Sub-US$100 smartphones driving rapid smartphone adoption in Jamaica as Manufacturing is Possible”.

Good to note that Telecom Provider Digicel had already put out statistics in March 2014 for the end of the First Quarter indicating that they were seeing phenomenal Growth as stated in my blog article entitled Digicel reports increases in Data Services, DL600 and DL700 sales in 2013 - LIME's all about the Benjamins from 4G LTE making Digicel Captain America The Winter Soldier”. This despite losses incurred due to the OUR (Office of Utilities Regulation) MTR (Mobile Termination Rate) drop.

Well, if you were impressed by that article, here are some stats to back that claim up of the JA$10,000 DL600 and DL700 smartphones being game-changers in terms of increasing Data Adoption:

1)      10% of Digicel's Revenue is from ICT, which covers Wireless Broadband Services such as their Digicel “4G” Network
2)      50% increase in ICT revenues in Financial Year 2013-2014
3)      80% penetration of their Digicel “4G” - really a 3G - Network
4)      60,000 DL600 and DL700 sold in March 2014

The ambitions Plan are being financed with a total of US$85 million, the same amount they’d Planned to spend back in March 2011 some three (3) years ago when Telecom Provider Digicel had acquired CLARO 3G Network as I’d chronicled in my blog article entitled Digicel’s US$85 million HSDPA+ and WiMaX 4G Upgrade - Wizards of Waverly Place Fast Five Showdown” and “Of ATC Strikes and Digicel 3G+ Upgrades - Pushing Tin in Eerie, Indiana”.

Good to note, too, that like Telecom Provider LIME, Telecom Provider Digicel has also changed their minds from launching a HSDPA+ (High Speed Downlink Packet Access Plus) Release 7 (64-QAM) to a full on 4G LTE Network as stated in my blog article entitled “LIME and Digicel have purchase AWS and 700 MHZ Spectrum for 4G LTE - Spectrum Purchase by the Number with Strings Attached as Ministry gets kitty donations from Local Telcos”.

Currently, their Cell site Count stands as follows:

1)      1600 estimated Digicel owned and Co-Location (shared) Cellsites
2)      790 Cell sites Digicel owns
3)      418 of that numbers are already “4G” - which is really 3G - enabled
4)      187 of that number to be enabled and upgraded from “4G” to 4G LTE
5)      605 total Cell Sites to have 4G LTE
6)      76.59% of Digicel owned Cell Sites to go 4G LTE

Their US$85 million has now been redirected to do the following:

1)      US$25 million (JA$2.73 billion) for Telecom Provider Digicel's 15 year license for Band 17 of the 700MHz for their 4G LTE deployment
2)      JA$9.36 billion in License Fees, of which Telecom Provider Digicel has paid JA$5.48 billion
3)      605 estimated Digicel owned and Co-Location (shared) Cellsites to upgraded to 4G LTE
4)      JA$600 million to build an Underground Fiber Optic Network to interconnect ICT , Call Centers as well as their 4G LTE Networks islandwide as stated in “Digicel to build sophisticated underground fibre network”, published Wednesday March 26, 2014, The Jamaica Gleaner

With this upgrade, Telecom Provider Digicel’s ICT Ambitions are clearly laid out, as they aim to get ICT to constitute 25% increase in total Revenues to make up for the impending shortfall in International and Local Voice Calling Revenues.

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