Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Cable and Wireless eyes Nov 15 for launch of 3G network

Published: Wednesday October 29, 2008

Cable and Wireless Jamaica (C&WJ) is to roll out its cutting edge 3G cellular network on November 15, according to a top executive at the one-time monopoly telecoms.

Speaking at the Private Sector Organisation of Jamaica's Job Creation Awards ceremony at the Terra Nova hotel in St Andrew yesterday, C&WJ's senior vice-president of business sales, Leroy Reid, announced the rollout, but did not provide details of the launch that will be done on a phased basis, starting with the Corporate Area, St Catherine and St Thomas.

Errol Miller, C&WJ's vice-president for corporate communication and corporate affairs, confirmed that the new service would be launched next month when contacted yesterday.

"That, at this time, is our planned launch date, (but it will be) before the end of November," he told Wednesday Business.

C&WJ's launch of its 3G network, which provides mobile users with cutting edge features, such as video conferencing calls, multimedia emails, faster transfer of files and TV streaming, among other features, is expected to come out near or around the same time as América Móvil's - the new com-pany that acquired the Miphone network.

C&WJ is spending US$30 million ($2.1 billion) to upgrade its network to 3G which it contracted Ericsson to do.

President and CEO Phil Green had said the company would take three years to build out the techno-logy first in Kingston and St Andrew, St Catherine and St Thomas, then to Montego Bay and the northcoast, thereafter the remaining parishes.

High-speed transmission

The 3G network operates much like broadband Internet, offering high-speed transmission up to 14 megabytes per second.

With the new technology, the once-monopoly player is expecting to slice off as much as 15 per cent more market share in two years. It currently has about 660,000 mobile customers, compared to archrival Digicel, which controls the lion's share with 1.9 million customers.

C&W is also expected to change its name to LIME, but that has not yet been confirmed by the company.

"We have been having some consultations with our staff and as soon as we are ready, we will go public," Miller said yesterday.

But with the entrance of América Móvil in the Jamaican market, it could prove even more difficult for C&WJ to achieve its target. América Móvil, operating as Claro is looking to shake up the market when it launches its 3G network next month. It has promised to slash mobile rates by as much as 50 per cent as well as offer exclusive handsets such as the popular Apple iPhone.

Dionne Rose
Jamaica Gleaner

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