My Thoughts on Technology and Jamaica: How possible MVNO Telecom Provider heralds WhatsApp, FLOW Jamaica, Digicel, Huawei and Lasco partnership


Friday, January 29, 2016

How possible MVNO Telecom Provider heralds WhatsApp, FLOW Jamaica, Digicel, Huawei and Lasco partnership

Looks like there might be a new Telecom Provider in town.

On Wednesday January 27th 2016, Minister of Science, Technology, Energy and Mining Phillip Paulwell announced that a Telecom Provider had applied for a Telecom License to operate in Jamaica as reported in the article “Cabinet Considering To Grant Another Cellular Licence”, published Thursday January 28, 2016, The Jamaica Gleaner.

This announcement came during the opening of the ESCO (Energy Services Company) Jamaica Conference at the Knutsford Court Hotel in New Kingston and personally has me very excited. Already, the Geezam blog has published an article entitled “New Player set to enter Jamaica’s Mobile Telecommunications market” with plans for a follow up later.

The ESCO Jamaica Conference was being held under the theme: Energy Management, Our Future Depends on it as noted in the article “Cabinet Considering Application for New Cellular Licence”, published January 28, 2016 By Chris Patterson, The Jamaica Information Service

This ESCO Jamaica Conference was aimed at the following:

1.      Business owners
2.      Contractors
3.      Financiers
4.      Policymakers
5.      Regulators
6.      Renewable Energy Companies

So why did Minister Paulwell choose a meeting of Energy Service Providers to announce the coming of a New Telecom Provider? Also, will they be providing more than just Voice services or will they be doing Data as well?

Paulwell's Telecom Provider may be an MVNO - Easier to set up an MVNO than a traditional Network

This announcement came as a bit of a surprise to me, as I heard it while travelling on a 21B JUTC bus to Spanish Town to do my Practicum at the Spanish Town High School. I lasted did the legwork online and found only a handful of article written on the subject, as a new telecom provider coming to Jamaica isn't exactly exiting news.

Still, it's what my blog is about and it has me excited. So on to the clues and contacting my sources who may know what going on in the Telecoms World.

The name of the applicant for the cellular license or their country of origin wasn't revealed and neither did Minister Paulwell. Neither did he mention whether or not they would be providing just Voice services or if they will be doing Data.

However, it may not be a Telecom Provider coming to build out any network at all, but possibly coming to take advantage of existing infrastructure.

In other words, it could be a MVNO (Mobile Virtual Network Operator), given the fact that Minister Paulwell had announced the issuing of twelve (12) new mobile telecommunications licenses for MVNO back in July 2015 as reported in my blog article entitled “@TheOURja MVNO Licenses – How Telecom Providers benefit and Why MVNO are a source of Product Innovation”. 

The coming of an MVNO makes sense, as setting up a Telecom Network is an expensive affair.

With two (2) Telecom Providers already in the country with fairly extensive Voice and Data Networks, it makes sense to go this low-cost route, piggybacking your service using another Telecom Provider's Network.

So who is this mystery Telecom Provider, possibly with plans to set up an MVNO?

WhatsApp and Flow Jamaica MVNO partnership – Digicel MVNO partnership with Huawei and Lasco unlocked dual-SIM smartphones

Possibly too, it could be WhatsApp, who on Thursday January 28th 2015 announced a partnership with FLOW Jamaica as reported in the Press Release  “Cable & Wireless & WhatsApp sign partnership”, published 2016-01-28, Go-Jamaica.

I say this based on the words of C&W’s Consumer Group President, John Reid, who emphasized that WhatsApp was an “authorized service providers”, quote: “Since the emergence of Over The Top (OTT) Communication services, Cable & Wireless has maintained our commitment to work with authorized service providers to ensure customers have access to world-leading services on their devices, running on the region’s best networks”.

Quite an about-face, given that both Digicel and Flow Jamaica were blocking the operation of WhatsApp in Jamaica as noted in my blog article entitled “Digicel and FLOW Block WhatsApp - How Jamaica makes money from IXP via VoIP Cloud Servers, SIP and MVNO”. 

This implies that WhatsApp, has finally signed a formal agreement to operate as an MVNO in Jamaica, piggybacking on their Network. In fact, I wouldn't be surprised if later in February 2016, Digicel Jamaica also announced a partnership with WhatsApp as well to provide MVNO services.

Unlike a traditional MVNO, they wouldn't need to sell smartphones. Instead, they'd apply for one of the twelve (12) MVNO licenses on offer since July 2015 and partner with a local supplier of smartphone to provide unlocked smartphones according to my sources.

My source, a girl who works in a Call Center, told me to expect a partnership with Huawei and Lasco Jamaica, who are selling unlocked dual-SIM Smartphone in Jamaica as noted in my blog article entitled “Huawei and Lasco to sell Unlocked dual-SIM smartphones - Why Number Portability means Open Market for unlocked smartphone”.

But this may just be the beginning of a MVNO invasion in Jamaica, as my source told me to expect more.

Google Fi possible coming to Jamaica - MVNO Wi-Fi Invasion as legislative changes pending

Even more interestingly, my source, a girl who works in a Call Center, told me that Google Fi may soon be coming to Jamaica.

This suggests that may be doing some limited-out of physical infrastructure, possibly setting up a Wi-Fi Network to increase coverage in areas that may have spotty GSM and "4G" (read 3G) Wireless Broadband from Digicel and FLOW Jamaica.

It also gives an indication of FLOW Jamaica's business plans, as they could resell their soon-to-be-launched LTE (Long Term Evolution) as well as Fiber Optic Services as explained in my blog article entitled “Why FLOW Jamaica's 4G LTE Upgrade to counter Digicel Play needs islandwide LTE, VDSL and DOCSIS 3.1”  as a backhaul for these Wi-Fi Networks to be built to support.

Since Wi-Fi Calling is really an MVNO with the option to use Wi-Fi Access to make calls, expect that other Telecom Provider may be entering Jamaica as well to launch Wi-Fi Calling as noted in my blog article entitled “Vodafone's Wi-Fi Calling in UK - How being Red means Nexus Google Fi coming”. 

So there you have it.

The new Telecom Provider may really be a MVNO, as that was the most recently available Telecom Licenses and it easier to set up MVNO. It could be WhatsApp in dealing with FLOW Jamaica with Huawei and Lasco Jamaica to provide the unlocked Dual-SIM smartphones.

Worse, more of these MVNO, from Google FI to Vodafone and AT&T may be coming to part of an MVNO Invasion!

This suggests that the Ministry of Science, Technology Energy and Mining in conjunction with the OUR (Office of Utilities Regulation) may be in the process of finalizing a regulation on MVNO's in Jamaica.

With any luck, we'll hear more of this via the Jamaica Information Service in the coming days.....and possibly more MVNO entrants into Jamaica!! 

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