Science, Technology, Energy and Mining Minister, Phillip Paulwell (centre) signs the telecoms and spectrum licensing agreement for Digicel and LIME during a press briefing at the Ministry on April 2. The licences were renewed for 15 years. Looking on are: Digicel’s Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Barry O’Brien (left); and LIME’s CEO Garfield Sinclair. JIS Photo
By Andrea Braham
KINGSTON, Jamaica (JIS) -- The government of Jamaica has sold the 700-megahertz (MHz) spectrum to Digicel Jamaica for J$2.73 billion (US$25 million).
Digicel is expected to roll out its services across the island over time, and deliver data, Internet applications, and video streaming at higher speeds.
Minister of science, technology, energy and mining, Phillip Paulwell, made the announcement at a press briefing on Wednesday.
He revealed that, following the unsuccessful efforts by the government last year to auction the 700 MHz spectrum, Cabinet had given approval to pursue negotiations with interested entities.
“The result of these negotiations is the grant of spectrum in the 700MHz …to Digicel,” he said.
Paulwell reiterated that the 700 MHz band tends to be more penetrative and propagates farther, which allows fewer towers to cover a specific geographic area. The band can be used to dramatically reduce the cost of deployment (installation and running of software and equipment), especially when compared to the deployment costs for systems operating at higher frequencies.
“It therefore represents a cost-effective option to deploy fourth generation (4G) technologies such as Long Term Evolution (LTE) in Jamaica,” he explained.
LTE technology allows the delivery of data for: Internet applications, video streaming, mobile television, and music downloads. It also enables streaming to mobile devices in higher definition than is possible with existing 3G technologies, and at speeds that rival current domestic fixed broadband connections.
Digicel’s chief executive officer, Barry O’Brien, said LTE licence is “a huge development for Digicel”.
He noted that presently, Digicel has the only nationwide 4G broadband mobile network, which the company is rapidly expanding.
“This has been ongoing for the last two or three years by Digicel and last year alone we invested approximately J$6 billion in that,” O’Brien said.
He said the company has actually designed its network with LTE technology in mind, adding that LTE is up to four times faster than current data delivery speeds.