My Thoughts on Technology and Jamaica: Why JUTC Wi-Fi by September 2016 means Digicel Mobile Money launch imminent

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Why JUTC Wi-Fi by September 2016 means Digicel Mobile Money launch imminent

Looks like Wi-Fi is finally coming to the JUTC (Jamaica Urban Transit Company) as I'd predicted in my blog article entitled “Wi-Fi on JUTC Buses in September 2015 - How extended 2015 Summer Promotion will increase revenue by JA$4 million daily”. 

On Friday January 12th 2016, the JUTC launched their long-awaited Wi-Fi service as reported in the article “JUTC Riding High On WIFI”, published February 13, 2016, The Jamaica Gleaner.

The launch took place that the Half-Way-Tree Transport Center with Minister of Transport Dr Omar Davies and the Minister of Science and Technology Phillip Paulwell being present. Also present at the launch was Managing Director, Colin Campbell and CEO of the Universal Service Fund, Hugh Cross.

The rollout is a test run with Wi-Fi Internet, will eventually be coming to all 452 buses operated by the JUTC come September 2016 as declared in the article “Full Roll Out Of Free WiFi On JUTC Buses Come September”, published Friday February 12, 2016, The Jamaica Gleaner.

The Wi-Fi routers and the Internet access is being provided by Telecom Provider Digicel Jamaica at no cost to the JUTC, which implies that it may be free to customers. If you're on these pilot routes, count yourself as being very lucky to try it out:

1)      24 Express, which travels from Spanish Town to the University of the West Indies
2)      130 Premium Express, which travels from Longville in Clarendon to downtown Kingston

Already it's being hailed as a game changer, they have to make sure that the high school children don't use the free Wi-Fi to access pornography as pointed out by Deputy Managing Director in charge of operations, Kirk Finnikin, quote: “Our IT department has been looking at ways the service can be used. They are exploring some of those avenues to introduce some restrictions in relation to X-rated sites and pornography in particular”.

So how exactly will this work?

Wi-Fi coming to JUTC buses September 2016 - Digicel 4G Broadband powers free Wi-Fi

Apparently the Wi-Fi Network is being provided using Digicel MiFi routers, which are a part of their 4G Broadband service.

Most likely six (6) or seven (7) of them have being installed in each JUTC bus to allows some thirty two (32) passengers to access the Wi-Fi at any given time. The MiFi Routers then tap into the 4G Broadband service, possibly drawing power either from Solar Panels mounted on the bus or extra batteries installed specifically to supply the routers and not tax the JUTC bus’s electrical system.

No matter how its configured, the idea will definately be a hit with passengers, as they can get work done while commuting to work, as pointed out by Kirk Finnikin, quote: “Wi-Fi access will allow commuters who spend possibly an hour and a half in traffic going to work and an hour and a half in traffic coming back home to have a more productive experience on the bus”.

The Wi-Fi, which is provided free of cost to passengers, will most likely have the access controlled via a special token printed on their JUTC Prepaid SmarterCard tickets as reported in my blog article entitled “How JUTC will earn JA$30 million per day from JUTC Prepaid SmarterCard Launch”. 

This new innovative Wi-Fi Internet Service will allow many commuters to not only enjoy using WhatsApp and Facebook but also check out the JUTC buses running on their route via the Google Transit App as explained in my blog article entitled “Why @JUTCltd @Google Transit from @UWImona Computer Science Department is the next AVL”. 

JUTC bus routes have been on the Google Transit app since August 2015. So what more can we expect by September 2016?

Free Wi-Fi on all JUTC buses – Boosting passenger numbers and sending schoolchildren home

So what does all this mean for customers?

With free Wi-Fi, customers can now access this information in real-rime to quote Kirk Finnikin: “Passengers have always been interested in finding out what time the buses run, so it is only fitting that we launched our Google Transit application last year August, where customers who are interested in finding out where they want to go ... can input their location and their destination using the Internet. What that app would return is the JUTC bus number and where they need to pick it up. The Wi-Fi provides customers access to this information at no cost to them”.

Good to note here that adult fares are set to go up by March 2016 as pointed out in my blog article entitled “Why JUTC's JA$100 fare hike in March 2016 as Wi-Fi and Checkered Taxis coming”. 

Hopefully when this rolls out fully by September 2016, the presence of Wi-Fi would have boosted passenger loads significantly. In fact, the JUTC may even begin making that extra JA$4 million per day from increased passenger loads as described in my blog article entitled “Wi-Fi on JUTC Buses in September 2015 - How extended 2015 Summer Promotion will increase revenue by JA$4 million daily”. 

Best of all, it'll get the school children to take the JUTC bus and go home instead of loitering around the Half-Way-Tree Transport Center and possibly end up having sex as pointed out in my blog article entitled “How Jamaican Children are having Sex in JUTC Transport Center - How Free Wi-Fi and CCTV Cameras can help”. 

JUTC AVL on the horizon – Digicel Mobile Money Guinea Pigs by September 2016

I'm hoping that by September 2016, the JUTC would have also launched their AVL (Automatic Vehicle Locator) App as well so that passengers can track the JUTC buses in real time as noted in my blog article entitled “JUTC's AVL and Chaos on Back to School Day – How JUTC's Automatic Vehicle Locator may placate Smartphone toting Commuters who ask Are we There Yet”. 

Knowing that Digicel is providing this for free, no doubt they plan to also use this service to negotiate with the JUTC to introduce their mobile money Platform as predicted in my blog article entitled “Why Digicel's purchase of Paymaster means Mobile Money is launching in 2016”, making the JUTC their first customer,

Expect to see decline in the JUTC bus fare as more passengers will start riding the JUTC bus just to get a taste of Free Wi-Fi.  

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