My Thoughts on Technology and Jamaica: Why US Telcos, @Digicel_Jamaica and @LIMEJamaica will ignore ITU 5G IMT-2020 Roadmap

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Why US Telcos, @Digicel_Jamaica and @LIMEJamaica will ignore ITU 5G IMT-2020 Roadmap

“The buzz in the industry on future steps in mobile technology ­­5G ­­has seen a sharp increase, with attention now focused on enabling a seamlessly connected society in the 2020 timeframe and beyond that brings together people along with things, data, applications, transport systems and cities in a smart networked communications environment.ITU will continue its partnership with the global mobile industry and governmental bodies to bring IMT­2020 to realization”

ITU Secretary­General Houlin Zhao, commenting on the ITU's release of their 5G Mission Plan for IMT-2020

5G Standards are just around the corner, at least in the First and Developed World Countries.

The ITU (International Telecommunication Union), the Telecommunications arm of the UN (United Nations) has announced their mission plan for 5G for the next five (5) years as reported in the article “5G Is Coming, But Not Until 2020”, published June 23, 2015 By Andy Boxall, Digitaltrends.

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The official name for 5G is IMT-2020 as reported in the article “ITU "reveals" 5G plan, coins IMT­2020 term”, published 22nd June 2015, by Richard Handford, Mobile World Live. It is a follow-on, West Indies Cricket style, of the IMT-2000 (3G) and IMT-Advanced (4G), with the numerical part of the name referring the year of intended commercialization.  

Their specifications for next Generation Wireless Broadband Networks is a 5G Mission Plan published on the ITU's website ITU towards “IMT for 2020 and beyond”, ensuring that everyone is on the same page in terms of the standards and specifications.

But there is no mention of speed, merely dates for the discussion of certain standards and developements for 5G, albeit 20 Gbps sounds mighty fast as reported in the article “ITU sets next steps for 5G, picks 'IMT­2020'”, published June 21, 2015 By Monica Alleven, Fierce Wireless Tech.  

ITU meeting in San Diego California – Telecoms Ramping up for 2020 deployment

They came to this decision after a meeting of a twelve (12) member delegation of the ITU attended a conference in San Diego, California from Wednesday June 10th to Thursday June 18th 2015 to decide the future of the 5G Standard as reported in the article “ITU: we'll have 5G standards ready by 2020”, published 21 Jun 2015 by Richard Chirgwin, The UK Register.
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In so doing, they created the following roadmap for Telecom Providers to follow, with considerations of assistance to Developing World countries to achieve the high bandwidth standards required to roll out a 5G Network.

Based on the timeline on their roadmap, the official name will be finalized in October 2015 at the ITU’s Radio Assembly in Geneva, Switzerland. This is after all one hundred and ninety four (194) ITU members have approved IMT-2020 as their 5G standard of choice, as they have many other standards to consider for 5G. By 2019 International Spectrum distribution will begin. By 2020, commercial 5G Network deployments should be in full swing.

By this action, the ITU has stepped forward and laid out a roadmap for the developement of 5G as shown in the article “ITU: we'll have 5G standards ready by 2020”, published 21 Jun 2015 by Richard Chirgwin, The UK Register. 2020 is set as the year that they expect Telecom Providers to officially upgrade their Networks to the Faster Wireless Broadband Standard.

Already, Nokia, long anticipating this shift, has purchased Alcatel-Lucent since April 2015 as reported in my blog article entitled “@Nokia’s purchase of @Alcatel_Lucent - How No. 2 Crouching Finnish-French Alliance Tiger challenges Chinese Huawei Dragon and Finnish Ericsson” in a bid to get into the Telecom Equiptment provider game.

In the process they've now become No. 2 in the world in terms of the sale of Telecom Equiptment, bested only by Ericsson.

So with the specification for 5G, officially called IMT-2020 now being ironed out, how do they differ from 4G? First, before I get to that, it’ll be good to point out that Telecom Providers have been deceiving you!

ITU publishes 5G Mission Plan for IMT-2020 - HDSPA+ called 4G by Telecom Providers Marketing peeps

First, it would do good to point out that what most Telecom Providers in the USA as well as in Jamaica call 4G isn't really 4G, just faster 3G 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”. 

As show in the Table in the article, most Telecom Providers, including Digicel, LIME in Jamaica and AT&T and T-Mobile in the US of A, do not hold the ITU in very high regard. After all, they are an arm of the UN, not an official trade body representing the business and commercial interests of the Telecom Providers.

Many Telecom Providers in 2009 had simply had their marketing departments market HSDPA+ (High Speed Downlink Packet Access) as “4G”, completely misrepresenting the HSDPA+ Release 7 or 3G+ standards set by the ITU in a bid to gain a market advantage.

Their reasoning is somewhat understandable, as they want a simple name to represent the improvement in speed each time they upgrade their Network.

Calling it 3.5G won't get customer to purchase smartphones and Tablets, as they'll argue that with such an incremental upgrade, they're better off waiting for the next significant upgrade as noted in the article “ITU blesses U.S Data Networks as 4G”, published December 20, 2010 3:12 PM PST by Kent German, CNET News.

The American Telecom Providers AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile and Sprint pressured the ITU, who basically conceded to this need for marketing clarity and called HSDPA+ Release 7 a type of “4G” Network as explained in my blog article entitled “Digicel the ITU and Samsung Galaxy Tablet - The Sorcerer's Apprentice”.

Calling HSDPA+ Release 7 or 3G+ makes it easier for the customer to buy into the idea of faster Broadband Internet without having to expend huge amounts of money on hardware and firmware upgrades. Granted, that was back then; AT&T and Verizon has since upgraded to 4G LTE Telecom Networks in the US of A.

This brings up the possibility of homogenous VoLTE (Voice over LTE) Networks that treats Voice as HD VoIP over a Data Network without the complication of a GSM Network for Voice Calling.

This suggests the strong possibility of Digicel and LIME going 4G LTE and eventually launching VoLTE by December 2015 as noted in my blog article entitled “Digicel and LIME going VoLTE  - Why GSM extinct and Spectrum reused for M2M Services in HD Audio and Video Caribbean VoLTE-Age”.

When it comes to calling HSDPA+ Release 7 or 3G+ by the right name, our local Telecom Providers are not much different! They too, are guilty of misrepresenting their Telecom Network capabilities.

LIME and Digicel are HSDPA+ Release 7 Networks - Slowest in the World but at capable of Music Streaming

A similar situation exists for LIME and Digicel in Jamaica, who according to Netflix, have Telecom Networks that are unsuitable for Streaming based on their month of December 2014 stats as reported in my blog article entitled “Netflix says Digicel has slowest Broadband Internet – Why Digicel still slow after CLARO despite Apples and Oranges as 4G LTE beckons”.

As most Jamaicans in-the-know or who have good memories are aware, both Digicel and LIME are yet to even go 4G LTE (Long Term Evolution). It is true that these Telecom Providers are leading the expansion of HSDPA+ Release 7 or 3G+Network in the Caribbean, but they're misrepresenting their Networks as 4G as noted in my Geezam blog article entitled “LIME, Digicel and FLOW – Leading the Global 4G Adoption Curve”. 

In some cases, they've even claimed to have service in some parts of the island despite their coverage not being as comprehensive as they claim as in the case of LIME Jamaica as noted in my blog article entitled “@LIMEJamaica 4G not in Rural Jamaica - Why Summer 2015 in Clarendon will be a @Digicel_Jamaica Zero Summer”.

Still, things are not so bad, as at least their HSDPA+ Release 7 or 3G+Network are good enough to stream music from Rdio and Deezer just not HD Video as noted in my blog article entitled “@Digicel_Jamaica and @LIMEJamaica sign Streaming Deals - How HD Audio Streaming, 4G LTE and Caribbean Artiste means Streaming Revenue Bad Blood”.

Digicel and LIME Ramping up - Jamaica going 4G LTE and FTTH by December 2015

Currently Telecom Provider LIME is ramping up, having officially secured their AWS (Advanced Wireless Services) spectrum in April 2015 to launch 4G LTE soon as their plan to upgrade their Call Center in December suggests as reported in my blog article entitled “@LIMEJamaica's downpayment on High-Bandwidth AWS Spectrum - How FLOW rebranding and Jamaican Call Center means 4G LTE coming in December 2015”.

Additionally, LIME has purchased FLOW since November 2014 and recently announced in May 2015 a Caribbean-wide rebranding of their company as reported in my Geezam blog article entitled “LIME Jamaica Goes with the FLOW thanks to Caribbean-wide Survey”.

The possibility exists, therefore, that they'll not only be launching a 4G LTE Network, but also a FTTH (Fiber to the House) Network as well.

Digicel too, who had purchased their 700MHz Spectrum in April 2014 as reported 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” is also ramping up for a 4G LTE Launch possibly by December 2015.

They've built out a Caribbean-Wide Fiber Optic Network by buying up Cable companies in the Caribbean islands and purchased SportsMax in September 2014 as noted in my blog article entitled “Digicel purchases SportsMax – Why No Games, Just Sports on Digicel's Streaming Cable TV over Bigger, Better Network 4G LTE and FTTH”.  

They've built out a local Fiber Optic Network to interconnect their potential clients, the Call Centers, both in Kingston and Mobay as well as their cell sites in preparation for 4G LTE since December 2014 as noted in my blog article entitled “Digicel's First Phase of Underground Fiber Optic Network completed - How Digicel's Tier III Data Center, FTTH, VoIP and Streaming possible in Year of the Sheep 2015”.

In short folks, all signs point to Digicel and LIME launching both a 4G LTE and a FTTH by December 2015, with Digicel SportMax NBA deal a huge advantage as pointed out in my Geezam blog article entitled “Digicel Sportsmax NBA deal means fiber and 4G LTE coming this year”.

5G Mission Plan for IMT-2020 -Clear Roadmap, but the Telecom Providers travel off the beaten Path

To summarize, both the American and Jamaica Telecom Providers misrepresent their HSDPA+ Release 7 or 3G+Network as 4G because of competitive pressure, forcing Marketing to become inventive. That said, the ITU declaration of their 5G Mission Plan to act as a Roadmap might not go down well with Telecom Providers, as it provides no specifics for speed.

Already, it's becoming apparent that the ITU may have been bullied into declaring the 5G standard early. Both the  UK Prime Minister David Cameron, and London Mayor Boris Johnson had announced it a full year before the ITU made it public on Tuesday June 23rd 2015 as reported in the article “UK and Germany invest in 5G, will be fast enough to download a movie in a second”, published March 10, 2014 By Williams Pelegrin, Digitaltrends.

Speculation is rife, as many have been speculating that the speeds for 5G will be as high as 20Gbps as reported in the article “ITU: we'll have 5G standards ready by 2020”, published 21 Jun 2015 by Richard Chirgwin, The UK Register.

Also the Koreans in their newspaper the Korean Times have stated that 5G Wireless Broadband Technology will be on display at the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympics as reported in the article “5G network defined by ITU as 20 GBs per second, demo by 2018 Olympics”, published June 18, 2015, Korea Times.

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Already, local Korean Telecom Provider KT has recently launched a 1.17 Gbps Network. Their Network is not 5G but is supposed to bridge the speed gap between 4G and 5G. 5G, therefore, will basically be an introduction to Gigabit Wireless Internet for customers of Telecom Providers.

If 1Gbps to 20Gpps are the real speeds of 5G, then 4K Video streaming and Gaming is going to be possible on your big screen 4G-compatible Samsung TV a reality as noted in my Geezam blog article entitled “Samsung unveils their First Curved Ultra High Definition TV, the U9000 Series at Mona Visitors Lodge”. 

Meanwhile in Developing World countries like Jamaica, we'll still be playing catch-up when 4G LTE is launched in December 2015. At least by then, we'll no longer be on the list of the slowest Telecom Networks for Broadband Streaming as noted in my Geezam blog article entitled “Digicel and LIME identified by Netflix's ISP Index as the Slowest in the Caribbean”.

5G Mission Plan lays out a clear Roadmap, but the Telecom Providers like to travel off the beaten Path!

Here's the link:

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