How to get 2G or 3G Internet on your Mobile Phone in Jamaica
Unless you’ve been living under a rock or you’re from another planet, you must be aware of the fact that you can get Internet on your Mobile Phone. That is, if it’s a smartphone, which actually makes you smarter as research by Online Student Assistance website StudyBlue reveals as cited in StudyBlue reveals Smartphones, Tablets make you smarter – The Big Bang Theory on Google.
Blackberrys are ok……but the Internet on most BB’s isn’t so great, due to the lackluster browser and the very slow processor and the lack of real-time video streaming and Video Calling Capability. These are the main reasons why the Corporate and Enterprise world is flocking smartphones and abandoning the Blackberry as noted in 30% Blackberry Blackout by Corporate and Enterprise – Bring Your Favourite Gear.
So how do you get Internet on your Mobile Phone? Since most people are on Digicel’s Network and are now loving the JA$8.99 Flat Rate Calling Plan as explained in my article Digicel Introduces One Rate Calling for $8.99 in Jamaica, my bias towards the Telecom Provider is very much on display in this article. Let’s go!!!
What type of Mobile Internet is available on Digicel?
First, please be aware that unlike LIME, Digicel doesn’t have a 3G widely available to everyone. Although they had acquired CLARO’s Network infrastructure for the WCDMA (Wideband Code Division Multiple Access) 3G Network powered by Chinese Telecom equiptment supplier Huawei, the 3G Internet access is currently available exclusively to former CLARO customers.
These customers, who are referred to as CLARO Migrated customers, upon surrendering their SIM Cards, had their Phone numbers ported across to Digicel’s Network so that they could continue getting Mobile Phone service. In addition to that, a Modem Dongle unlocked by using the steps in my article How to Unlock your Huawei Modem to work on LIME 3G or Digicel can accept the settings from Digicel to go on the Internet using such a Migrated CLARO Phone number, also fodder for a separate article.
As a CLARO Migrated customer, with a little tinkering, you can make your Mobile Phone using your new Digicel SIM with the same number access the 3G Internet as well. In addition to these lucky migrants, Digicel has been testing out the 3G Internet with a select few Guinea pigs, all very hush-hush. Unlike LIME’s very public sandbox testing of HSDPA+ or “4G” which the ITU (International Telecommunications Union) has christened!
They are set to make a public announcement soon as it relates to making the rest of us Jamaican have access to significantly faster 3G, which they may re-launch as HSDPA+ or “4G” as hinted in my article CLARO’s Freeness ends 5th January 2012 – Digicel’s Bigger, Better with Data and Cloud.
This means that by and large, the majority of Digicel’s customers, inclusive of Blackberry customers, are stuck with using the slower 2G Internet Services, namely 64KBps-capable GPRS (Global Packet Radio System) or 128kbps-capable EDGE (Enhanced Data Rates for GSM Evolution) Networks. Despite being Data Services, they are in fact a part of the GSM (Global System Mobile) Voice Service Layer.
For this reason, if you’re in an area that has less than the five bars of GSM Mobile Phone coverage, you will find it very difficult to access the GPRS and EDGE powered Internet.
Thus you have to:
- Be near to a Digicel Mobile Tower (mostly Ericsson Node B) and have five (5) bars of signal on your Phone
- Be able to see a 2G EDGE or GPRS Indication on your Mobile Phones
No such problems with 3G, which is based on WCDMA and uses ABR (Adaptive Bit Rate).
ABR means that if the 3G Modem in your Phone or Modem Dongle cannot get faster HSDPA, based on the Transmission Interference Noise level, it will step down to slower 256Kbps UMTS (Universal Mobile Transmission System), only defaulting to 2G EDGE and then GPRS if it really cannot get access to the 3G Network.
Digicel, please hurry up with Mobile 3G…..EDGE is waaaaay too slow.
What kind of Prices are we looking at here?
There are two (2) ways you can pay for the 2G GPRS or EDGE or 3G Internet on your Prepaid Mobile Phone:
- Pay –As-You-Go, using Phone credit. The cost is JA$40.00 per megabyte or JA$0.40 per kilobyte for both upload and download
- Purchase a Data Package as shown below
|Type Prepaid Data Plan||Contract Duration||Data Bundle Limit||Cost (JA$)|
The Cost above represents the amount of credit you have to have on your Mobile Phone to activate the particular Blackberry Prepaid Plan.
Make sure that you have a minimum of JA$10.01 to go on the Internet if you’re planning to use the Pay-As-You-Go Option, albeit it would hurt to at least burn through about JA$1000, as the megabytes do add up real fast. The Prepaid Data Plans themselves are not without their danger. Exceed the allotted Megabyte Bundle and you’ll face being charged JA$15.00 for every megabyte in excess of the Data Bundle Limit.
If you manage to somehow get the 3G Internet settings working on your 3G Mobile Phone using your Migrated CLARO Number, which is now on a Digicel SIM, the Prepaid Data Bundles above are the best way to go. There are currently no Postpaid Plans for 3G Data albeit if you have a Postpaid Mobile Phone, 2G is served up a la carte with your Postpaid Plan, which Digicel calls DigiSelect.
This may soon change, however, so stay tuned to this blog!
Hint: Facebook Zero, a scaled down WAP version of Facebook, can be accessed on your WAP enabled Mobile Phone. However, the full website i.e. http://www.facebook.com is free on the Blackberry, which a Blackberry Data Plan covers.
Hint: If you exceed the Data Bundle Limit for your 2G EDGE or GPRS Mobile Internet Service, you can send *142# and have the service reactivated.
Can your Mobile Phone go on the Internet?
This is the first question you’ll need to ask yourself about your Phone. There are three (3) types of Phones that can go on the Internet:
- WAP (Web Application Protocol) Enabled Feature Phones e.g. Motorola Razr (you really STILL got one of those!!?)
- Smartphones e.g. Apple iPhones and Google Android Phones
For simplicity‘s sake I will not discuss provisioning Internet access on your Blackberry using Blackberry Prepaid Data Plans or 3G Internet Access on smartphones, leaving those concerns for another article. Instead, I’ll keep it simple and focus on WAP Enabled Feature Phones and EDGE or GPRS on Blackberrys and smartphones.
If your Phone isn’t one of the last two (2) or you’re not sure (really? Check your phones manual or packaging!!), the easiest way to check is to go on GSM Arena or just Google your Phone’s Brand and Model number e.g. LG Neon. If you’re not so proficient with the Internet or you have no Internet access at all, an even simpler way is to call the helpful Customer Care Agents at Digicel by dialing 100 on your Mobile and ask them to provision the Internet on your Mobile Phone for you.
The first thing they’ll do is ask you for your Phone number so that they can check to see if the GPRS Settings have been enabled for the SIM Card that your Phone number is assigned.
Next they’ll ask you to enter the following code: *#06#. This can be done while you’re on the line and is aimed at getting the fifteen (15) digit IMEI (International Mobile Equipment Identification) Number that uniquely identifies your Mobile Phone.
They will then search a database to ascertain your Mobile Phone type and determine whether or not the Phone is Internet-capable. If it is Internet-capable, they will proceed to send the Internet settings to your Mobile Phone or give you information on how to provision the Internet on the Phone yourself. Make sure you have pen and paper to write down the instructions, as they are quite long.
At this point, it then becomes another DIY (Do it Yourself) project from this former Telecoms Technicians for you to do!
DIY Time: Enableing Internet on your Mobile Phone
So by now we’ve cleared up all the things you’ll need for you to enjoy Mobile Prepaid Internet. You now know whether or not your Mobile Phone can access the Internet and you have called Digicel’s Customer Care at 100.
To enable the Prepaid 2G Internet on your Mobile Phone, you can use one of two (2) methods:
- Send a text with the word “DATA” to 137 and you’ll receive a link to wap.digiceljamaica.com that will allow you to access Prepaid 2G Data Plans as shown above for Mobile Internet. The rest is self-explanatory
- Dial *151# if you want to provision the 2G Prepaid Internet on your Mobile Phone. This sends a series of six (6) text to your Mobile Phone, the first three (3) being Instructions and the last three (3) being Settings.
If you use the self-provisioning code of *151# on your WAP Enabled Mobile Phone or smartphone, the following instructions apply:
- After you’ve saved and installed the settings, you’ll need the password “1234” to activate these settings
- Once installed, it’s advisable that you do a battery pull. This is where you shut down the Phone and then remove the battery, thereby disconnecting the Phone from Digicel’s GSM Network
- Restart the Mobile Phone thereby reconnecting to Digicel’s GSM Networks. Make sure you have an indication on your Phone that you have GPRS or EDGE in capital letters
- At this point, you can start browsing WAP as well as Websites, in the case of smartphones
Hint: Common letter “edge” is an indication that the phone may be in an area with less than five bars of continuous coverage. To fix this problem, do a battery pull by shutting down your Blackberry and then removing the battery to totally shut down the phone. The capital “EDGE” should come back after a full restart of the Blackberry.
For you lucky CLARO Migrated customers, the settings are pretty straight forward to implement, albeit they are not guaranteed to work, as Digicel has made no statement on supporting Mobile 3G Data:
- Dial *143# and choose one of the Prepaid Data Plans for your smartphone
- Make sure you have the credit on the Phone to pay for the Prepaid Data Plan
- Then activate the Prepaid Data Plan on your Migrated Digicel SIM Card on an ordinary Phone using *143#
- Place the SIM back into the smartphone and restart.
- At this point you should be able to access the Internet and browse on Digicel’s 3G Network.
If this doesn’t work, enter the following settings in your smartphone’s 3G Settings:
- APN: web.digiceljamaica.com
- Access No: *99#
- Username: <blank>
- Password: <blank>
Hint: Makes sure when you’re not using your WAP enabled Mobile Phone or smartphone to access the Internet that you close out all applications. Your Internet-enabled Mobile Phone, creepily enough, continues to access the Internet when you’re asleep, using off your credit in the process.
Hint: Blackberrys can access the Internet without you having to have a Blackberry Data Plan. You can use Wi-Fi as is the practice in New Kingston as noted in Crouching LIME Huawei E586 Mi-Fi – Hidden Dekal Wireless Dragon or just simply provision Internet using the steps above.
Enjoy your Mobile Internet until Digicel makes up its mind to launch 3G for Mobile Phones to all Jamaicans. At which point, another more detailed article would be forthcoming for the provisioning Mobile Internet on such Phones. Let me know if the 3G Internet Settings work, folks!!
Here is the links: