My Thoughts on Technology and Jamaica: How Caricel's US$100 million 4G LTE using White Space and Chinese Investors come August 2016

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

How Caricel's US$100 million 4G LTE using White Space and Chinese Investors come August 2016

 “Jamaicans will enjoy a coverage never seen before as we will employ the latest long-term evolution (LTE) 4G technology to focus on moving data”

Caricel’s unofficial spokesman, explaining to the Jamaica Gleaner what Caricel plans to launching by August 2016.

Looks like 4G LTE (Long Term Evolution) will be coming in August 2016. More interestingly, it will not be launched by Telecom Providers Digicel or FLOW Jamaica.

Instead, Symbiote Investments Limited, using the brand name Caricel, may be launching 4G LTE by August 2016 as reported in the article “Caricel — first Jamaican company to get mobile spectrum licence”, published Sunday, May 22, 2016 by Balford Henry, The Jamaica Observer.

Minister of Science, Energy and Technology, Dr Andrew Wheatley was quite pleased while he announced the coming of Caricel on Monday May 16th 2016, as it would bring much needed competition to Jamaica, quote: “In light of the merger between Cable and Wireless and Columbus Communications, and soon Liberty Global, I take the opportunity to once again welcome tripartite competition to the mobile telecoms sector, as the increased choice will empower the consumer and force greater innovation from the sector”.

Symbiote Investments Limited is in the process of procuring US$20,833,332 (JA$2.6 billion) for two (2) licenses, a Carrier License and a Service Provider License they've been testing out since 2014 as reported in my blog article entitled “How JA$6.2 billion Symbiote Investments Limited Spectrum may be Chinese-Jamaican Telecom Provider”. 

Already, FLOW Jamaica, who have now reached the 1,000,000 mark, has also dropped their latest FAM (Free Anywhere Minutes) that makes it possible for you to make local calls as well as international calls to USA, Canada and UK for 99 cents as detailed in my Geezam blog article entitled “How Flow Jamaica celebrated 1 million customers with a 99 cents FAM Plan”.

Coincidentally, Digicel and Huawei have begun testing a super fast fiber optic technology known as XG-PON (10Gbps Passive Optical Network), which has maximum theoretical speeds of 10 Gbps as reported in the article “Digicel And Huawei Technologies Successfully Test 10 Gbps Broadband In Jamaica”, published May 20, 2016 by Digicel Group, PRNewswire.
A potential upgrade to their FTTH Network to which FLOW Jamaica needs to match in terms of an Upgrade as described in my blog article entitled “Why FLOW Jamaica's 4G LTE Upgrade to counter Digicel Play needs islandwide LTE, VDSL and DOCSIS 3.1”, the test conducted in Digicel's lab in downtown Kingston  may herald speeds matching those of Korea and Singapore.

Albeit possibly mere coincidence, the coincidence is still ominous; FLOW Jamaica and Digicel Jamaica are both firing warning shots in preparation for anything from Caricel.

So how far advanced is Caricel that they can launch in weeks, possibly by August 2016?

Caricel to launch in August 2016 - Slow rollout in Portmore and Kingston and St. Andrew

Meanwhile I've not seen or heard of much significant tower construction activity in Portmore and Kingston and St. Andrew.

Despite this, the un-official spokesperson who spoke to the Jamaica Gleaner, not only revealed that they're launching 4G LTE as reported in the article “Three-Way Cell War ...As New Phone Company Vows To Fight Flow And Digicel With Price And Service Quality”, Published Sunday May 22, 2016 by Arthur Hall, The Jamaica Gleaner, he also dropped more interesting stuff about the Network.

The Caricel spokespersons claims that they'll initially be rolling out a 4G LTE Network in Portmore and Kingston and St. Andrew in the next three (3) years, quote: “We are ready to roll out and have conducted our tests. We have already invested US$50 million and expect to invest another US$50 million over the next three years while providing hundreds of jobs and business opportunities for Jamaicans”.

Good to note that at a total of US$100 million, this must be a very small Network and indicates a very slow rollout. Then again, to go islandwide would require at least US$500 million, which Symbiote Investments Limited probably doesn’t have at this moment.

However, their principal investors appear to be Jamaicans living in the diaspora, so securing additional VC (Venture Capital) funding may not be an issue for them, to quote the spokesman: “We have persons here and overseas who have already expressed an interest in investing in the company and the local financial institutions have been very helpful”.

 This would make them quite capable of paying for their Carrier License and a Service Provider License for such a small 4G LTE Network, which may just simply be a sandbox to test out the technology, according to quote the spokesperson: “We have agreed a payment plan with the Government and as soon as we get the official letter confirming that we have been granted a licence we will make the initial deposit of US$4 million within the 30 days allowed”.

So who are these mysterious investors?

Chinese Investors in Caricel – 4G LTE Ambitions possibly powered by Dekal Wireless Principals

A lot of local investors are also involved.

My suspicion is that they may be mainly Chinese businessmen as I'd predicted in my Geezam blog article entitled “How Chinese White Space Network possible in Jamaica by Independence Day”. In fact, my thinking is that Caricel is a Jamaican company with Chinese investors, both local and international.

According to my sources, they may be the same Chinese investors pumping money into CellOne in Bermuda and GTT in Guyana as opined in my Geezam blog article entitled “Digicel and GTT 80 Mbps 4G LTE in Guyana hints at August 2016 Launch in Jamaica”.

Caricel may also be a replacement to Dekal Wireless, seeing as testing on the Network began two (2) years ago, around the same time that FLOW Jamaica had purchased in December 2014 as reported in the article “LIME to take over operations of DEKAL Wireless”, published Tuesday, December 09, 2014, The Jamaica Observer

Chinese Investors in Caricel - White Space spectrum may power Caricel's 4G LTE ambitions

The spokespersons didn't reveal what spectrum band Caricel was using or how the backhaul transmission to the cell towers was being provisioned. This is of interest to many Telecom Engineers, being as Digicel is using the 700 MHz Band and FLOW Jamaica has been assigned the 1900 MHz and the 2100 MHz band for their 4G LTE rollout as explained in my blog article entitled “LIME and Digicel have purchase AWS and 700 MHZ Spectrum for 4G LTE”. 

For this reason, I'm betting that the 4G LTE Spectrum being used is based on the available White Space Spectrum which had been tested by Microsoft as detailed in my blog article entitled “How White Space Testing by Microsoft at Park Hall Primary and Infant School heralds 80 MBps Competition in Jamaica”. 

It's free, plentiful and has less attenuation than even Digicel's 700 MHz spectrum for their 4G LTE Network. Whatever spectrum they deploy, Caricel has already shaken up Digicel and FLOW Jamaica with their plans to offer faster Wireless Broadband and high quality affordable smartphones.

Here’s the link:

Symbiote Investments Limited
4 Eastwood Avenue,
Kingston 10
Tel: 876-614-4444
Twitter: @Cariceljamaica

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