DIGICEL has entered the consumer Internet market with the launch today of its 4G WiMax broadband service, promising to make Internet access more affordable for the majority of Jamaicans.
The fourth generation wireless Internet technology, which has been available here to business customers for since 2007, allows Jamaicans portable broadband whereby their wireless modem can be simply plugged into a wall socket; or use a small non-mains powered USB modems.
“With Digicel 4G Broadband, we are making wireless broadband Internet an easy-to-access, affordable reality and empowering Jamaican people and businesses to get the best out of the internet – whenever and however they want it. With Digicel 4G Broadband, the possibilities are endless," said Digicel Jamaica Chief Executive Officer Mark Linehan.
The WiMax network, which consists of 170 base stations, will initially cover 60 per cent of the Jamaican population, across 200 largely urban communities, with further roll out planned.
Cost of access has inhibited Internet access in Jamaica, as it did previously with mobile. A survey by the Telecommunications Policy and Management programme (TPM) at the Mona School of Business conducted in 2007 estimated that Internet access and usage totalled about 21 per cent of the Jamaican population. By contrast almost every member of the adult population has at least one cell phone.
WiMax handsets should be available within the next year, said Linehan.
Digicel hopes to make WiMax affordable and relevant to everyday Jamaicans by partnering with others companies including Courts, NCB and credit unions islandwide to offer financing packages for computers, laptops, net books and modems.
Laptop and modem packages are available at prices of $54,950 plus GCT and upwards. Purchased on their own modems cost $3,950 for prepaid customers and are free for prepaid customers.
Customers have unlimited usage and those used to prepaid mobile credit may choose the similar. 7 day, 14 day or 30 day plans. The postpaid plan is cheaper per day of usage.
Members of the public can try out the technology this weekend at the Digicel Consumer Electronics Show, which begins tomorrow at the Wyndham Hotel in Kingston.
The wireless modems go on sale tomorrow morning and the USB modems within the next two months.
7 day prepaid: $1,200
14 day prepaid: $2,000
30 day prepaid: $3,000
30 day Postpaid: $2,500