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Digicel & Bmobile: What You Need To Know About 5G & LTE-A

2 New Networks, 2 Different Approaches

It’s been quite a while since we have had so much excitement in the Telecom’s space here in Trinidad & Tobago. Both Digicel and Bmobile have rolled out new advancements to their networks, which also signal a change in their approaches to the market. In order to really understand, why the companies have decided to go down different paths with respects to the technology that they use, we need to have a look at what both companies are trying to achieve. 

digicel trinidad

Digicel: The Lifestyle Enabler

If you have been paying attention to Digicel over the last year, you will have seen a major change in the personality of the company. Digicel has had the mindset of trying to integrate more with the people via their social media channels and has become more playful online. Their mindset has been to focus more on entertainment and transform themselves into more of a lifestyle brand. 

With products like D’Music & their PlayGo TV app, combined with the content they produce on social media, their direction becomes clear. With all of their investment into LTE-A infrastructure, Digicel does not believe that they can charge more just for access to the faster speeds. They are now looking to switch gears into creating content and utilizing all of their distrubution channels to become more engrained into various parts of our life. 

So whether it is streaming music, using their PlayGo app to start viewing original content or following them on their journeys on social media, we can expect to see more original content coming out of Digicel. 

LTE Advance is the perfect compliment, to ensure that your mobile devices have more than enough speed to facilitate your streaming needs. 

In order for your device to take advantage of the new networks speeds, your device must have Band 2 or Band 4 on board. When you pull up your device model on GSMarena, look under the network tab, select the model of your device and under 4G bands, look for Band 2 or Band 4. LTE Advance has a maximum theroitical speed of 235mbps and when Digicel’s CTO Chandrika Samaroo ran a speedtest during the roll out, he was able to get a DL speed of 181mbps. You also need to ensure that when you are looking under the network tab on GSMarena, under the speed section, look for LTE-A (C2 and up). 

However, if you want to see if your current sim card and device are capable of achieving the new speeds, you can hit the link to the Digicel LTE-A Checker and you will be able to see if your sim card and your device is LTE-A ready. 

Since the vast majority of us our consuming content on the go, Digicel ensuring that they have the fastest mobile network available is paramount to their success on their new mission. They maintain that when it becomes necessary for them to switch to 5g, they are more than ready & willing to make the switch. 

As a reminder, in order for your to access LTE-A, you will need an LTE plan, an LTE-A enabled device, the LTE APN settings, the latest Sim Card and to be within the LTE-A coverage area. To view those areas, hit this link (LTE-A Coverage Areas). If you are missing any one of these components, you will not be able to access the LTE-A speeds.

bmobile 5g

Bmobile 5G: The Technology Enabler

When you hear about 5G, it’s hard to dismiss all of the controversy that has surrounded it over the last year. Every story coming out with respects to it almost comes across as an arms race between countries around the world. That’s 5G is another generational leap in terms of capabilities. 

Bmobile for quite some time has been setting the stage for this and have been positioning themselves as the technology partner and enabler for T&T. This is partly because the government of T&T is a part owner, so this technology can facilitate major advancements within the government, our health field, the communications industry, school system, and for enterprise businesses. 

When Bmobile rolled out their 5G network on Dec 4th, 2019 at the Hyatt, that was exactly what they spoke too. They are rolling out their Fixed Wireless 5G services and not the 5G Wireless network, that has it’s own challenges still being worked out. 

You need to understand the thought process of TSTT, be the technology partner & enabler. The goal is improve the tech and processes within key industries within the country and 5G is perfectly capable of doing that. During the roll out, they demonstrated one such key benefit of the Fixed Line platform. They did a live news broadcast with TV6 live inside the Hyatt. Typically, anytime you are doing a broadcast, you would need to roll out the entire news truck, setup a satellite and there are cords every where, to get production going. To see the first ever 5G live broadcast in the English speaking Caribbean, you can view it here (5G Live Broadcast).

 

The CPE which is small and compact, can easily fit into a bag and is essentially plug and play. One of the biggest wins for 5G besides the exponential improvements on speeds, is the lower latency. The faster response time in the network will allow for real time decision making in it’s day to day usage. 

Bmobile see’s so many situational usages that 5G can give T&T some major boosts, save money and increase productivity. One such example that I really liked was the scenario in agriculture. With the use of sensors being deployed in crops and monitoring the health of plants, it will allow the connectivity needed for farmers to spend less time in the actual fields itself and give real time data on crops. 

T&T’s landscape makes for some very unique and trying situations. The reason why 5G has great appeal, is that it gets difficult trying to run fiber cables when you have as much hill terrain as we do here in the country. Add to the fact that we have some of the lowest allocated spectrum from TATT given to our providers, who consistently have to keep reusing their already limited spectrum and the challenges call for both Bmobile & Digicel to get creative with how they build their networks.

During the speedtest’s presented by Hassel Bacchus (Chief Technical Officer), we got to witness speeds of over 1gbps. These types of speeds, mixed with lower latency and the amount of applicational use that different industries will be able to take advantage of it, make the possibilities of a vastly improved T&T seem almost a dream come true. 

I am all for anything that will continue to empower us as a nation to move forward in the world and I look forward to seeing how we capitalize off the new 5G Fixed Line network. 

So What's Missing?

What is currently missing from all of this, whether you are using the Digicel LTE-A network or gearing up to check out the new 5G Fixed Line network from Bmobile, are the people who are going to power the mass education drive that will be needed to teach people how to utilize all of this new tech.

Every day I see the same thing happening, new technology is being used and it basically comes without any instruction manual or tutors to teach the public, how to use or maximize any of it. When you visit any of the institutions to learn or ask questions about it, nobody ever seems to have the right answers. This is the biggest barrier we have constantly and its the number 1 reason as to why we never seem to get any sort of real adoption for the new technology and digital platforms that have been rolled out over the years.

According to Builtwith.com, T&T currently has 259 websites with e-commerce available on them. It just goes to show that, even though we have technology to improve our businesses and earn more revenue, if the institutions aren’t going to baby the public and prepare plans to teach them how to utilize what is being offered, the technology will continue to be undervalued and underappreciated. 

Both Digicel & Bmobile are moving in the right direction. They both are showing that they have different missions and different approaches to how they will go about empowering citizens. Digicel wants you to use your devices to Create & Consume, Bmobile want’s you to use the technology to build better business and have an improved quality of life. 

Your job as the consumer now will be too really evaluate your needs and your lifestyle, to see which one of the providers, is offering the best solutions to fit your requirements. 

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Keron Mcleish

Keron McLeish is the owner of Droid Island and has over 10+ years of international experience working for some of the biggest brands in mobile such as Apple, Telus, and Rogers. He is located in Trinidad and Tobago and is a trusted mobile expert in the region. In his off time, he can be found shooting airballs on the basketball court or eating a bake and shark on the beach.

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