Digicel Trinidad and Tobago has announced the rollout of its LTE Advanced (LTE-A) mobile network, an upgrade from its LTE network. The upgrade promises customers maximum speeds of 190 megabits per second (Mbps).
Speaking at a media conference at Digicel’s head office in Port of Spain yesterday, Digicel operations manager Chandrika Samaroo said the Telecommunications Authority of Trinidad and Tobago (TATT) approved the new spectrum in late July this year.
“We would have purchased it in early August and we began rolling it (LTE-A) out since then,” he stated.
Digicel launched LTE in July 2018 and since then has invested $15 million in the network.
While noting that 5G or fifth generation cellular technology is the “technology of the future”, Samaroo said Digicel felt that investing “immediately” in 5G did not benefit the country, customers or the company.
“At Digicel, we have a customer centric approach to our network revolution. For any technology to make sense for the user you need to have the right resources. So the regulator is to give the right resources, the right spectrum to do it. Users need to have the right handset. We don’t want to deploy or make an investment for just a few users,” he explained.
5G on hold
“We want to invest some money where most of our users can actually benefit. This is why our approach today has been LTE Advanced. 5G is definitely the technology of the future. I know that our spectrum isn’t there yet. Our spectrum plan still needs some work by the regulator and by us, to get to that point where the resources are actually available for operators to deploy 5G on the mobile network,” he stated.
He added: “And the handsets are right now very, very few and far between. They are also very expensive and out of the reach of the average Trinidadian.”
Digicel T&T chief executive officer Jabbor Kayumov noted that there are less than five per cent of 5G-enabled handsets in T&T.
“First we need to have customers to have the right handsets. It’s as simple as that. You cannot drive 5G if you have 2G handsets. So we are encouraging those who still have 2G handsets to move to 4G or LTE, which is going to allow them to enjoy the quality of speeds,” he stated. At the media conference yesterday, Kayumov boasted of a ten per cent increase in Digicel’s home and entertainment customer base, and a ten per cent increase in corporate and Government business.
“Business is growing, almost double-digit, which is a big achievement in our industry. This wouldn’t be happening without our customer base,” he stated.
Kayumov said for the first half of 2019, Digicel was named the fastest mobile network in the country by global speedtest firm, Ookla.