2018 is here and we couldn’t be more excited to get this year underway. 2017 was a great year for mobile here in the Caribbean and 2018 should be even better.
2017 was the year of smartphone diversity and listening to all the feedback I have received from my blogs, Youtube videos, and in-person chats, you guys are heavily excited about the smartphone options that are finally accessible to you guys, and you no longer have to be limited to what is offered locally.
I wanted to put some things in to context for you guys though. Jan 1 marks the day that Bmobile has officially closed down their 9 retail locations, giving the keys to the retail arms to their partners. Digicel has effectively done this throughout 2017 and now only has 2 corporate stores (Maraval rd & C3).
Now I wanted to take a different approach to the whole concept of importing your devices vs buying locally through a corporate store vs 3rd party retailer.
One of the main reasons that phones come locked to companies abroad besides trying to keep you on their networks, is the fact that every phone they purchase from manufacturers has antennas, network bands, and modem software that allows them to have a level of quality control of the devices using their network.
During my time working for the Canadian carrier Telus, if a client had a problem with their data connection, GPS, or call quality, the very first thing we determined was if their phone was one from our selection or if it was imported.
If it was one of our devices, we had software built in on the phone that would allow us to update modem software, and other important things so that we could ensure they had the right stuff for the best experience on the network.
But if it was a device they unlocked and brought in from another network, the most we could do is check to see if there was anything wrong with our network in their area and relay the information. We had to advise all clients we could not guarantee service on devices imported, nor did we troubleshoot the devices.
This is a major issue because now, that our Telco companies are pushing their sales through their 3rd party dealers, dealers are allowed to bring in whatever phones they see fit to sell. Let’s take a look at Bmobiles LTE network.
Bmobile uses the Band 2(1900) LTE network, and since this is not a well-known fact, many people order devices online or buy locally thinking they are going to be able to use the LTE network and buy devices that Bmobiles LTE network simply does not support.
Go to Bmobiles website and search LTE, and they let you know you need a few things for LTE to work. LTE device, LTE Sim, LTE Plan, LTE APN settings and that is it. The following question on their FAQ asks, “How will I know if the device is LTE?” and the response is simply to check the manual.
All that being said, pushing the sales through 3rd party retailers simply degrades the quality of our service as anybody can bring in a device to use on the network but that doesn’t mean it will work as intended.
Watch any Youtube video, and tech reviewers will still tell you what phone works well on the networks whether it be voice, data, or GPS signals and that information is important to know.
So what’s the solution you ask?
Well, the only solution would be for Digicel & Bmobile to start focusing on retail sales, bringing in more devices through their corporate channels, and gaining back some sort of quality control that they can have more command over.
Since we know that is not the direction as they have been closing down stores, as a consumer you need to start finding local mobile experts who are talking about the quality of devices and services. I myself will be more diligent in letting people know my take on these crucial signals for us here in Trinidad.
Also, don’t be afraid to check out the reviews on your device and see if the tech community cites any issues with signal whether it be call quality, data connection, or GPS. Now even though their networks are completely different from ours, you will at least have some guidance to see if the device itself has good reception.
Another quick tip, when you are purchasing a device, make sure to check out GSMarena, select the exact model of the phone you are buying, hit the expand on the network tab and see if it has the proper bands to work in Trinidad. The models make a big difference because like I stated earlier, every manufacturer makes multiple versions of the same phone. The S8 alone has 13 variations of it for different markets and networks around the world. The last thing you want is to buy the wrong model of the device and it doesn’t have the correct band to pick up the LTE network in your local market.
Because at the end of the day, if you can’t receive a call, get the fastest data connections, or use GPS properly without dropped connections, then what are we paying for?
If you guys have any questions about whether or not your device is capable of picking up Bmobiles LTE data network, tips on the device call quality or anything else. Get in contact with me, and I will help you as much as possible.
While I may not have all the solutions for you, but if you are at least educated about your device and circumstance, you can start to think about your options.