As you may be aware from reading Kelroy’s article Claro Jamaica to get the Axe from Digicel come March 1st, Digicel is slated to shut down CLARO Jamaica’s GSM Voice Network on Thursday March 1st 2012AD. The reason is of course becoming increasingly clear as to why Digicel really wants CLARO Jamaica: access to their 3G Licenses and Spectrum to build out their HSDPA+ (High Speeds Downlink Packet Access) Release 7 Network and eventually ramp up to a LTE (Long Term Evolution) Network. The Caribbean is their eventually aim with LIME and FLOW expressing similar sentiments as noted in my article LIME, Digicel and FLOW – Leading the Global 4G Adoption Curve.
“Broadband Thursdays” may become the next catchphrase in Jamaica, as Digicel despite their success in the GSM Voice arena as noted in CLARO’s Freeness ends 5th January 2012 – Digicel’s Bigger, Better with Data and Cloud, has to make up for their lackluster performance in Wireless Broadband thus far as noted by fellow blogger Horace in his review Digicel Wimax: One Year After Launch.
Heck, even their Digicel MiFi product as reviewed by fellow blogger Ramano in WiFi On The Go: Digicel MiFi and Horace double-barreled review Digicel Jamaica Wimax Review – Part 1 and Digicel Jamaica Wimax Review Part 2 barely holds a candle to Municipal Wi-Fi Network Dekal Wireless and Nubmai-1 Tech Services Limited. This is both in terms of Pricing as well as service quality as noted in my article Dekal Wireless: Broadband for the Masses. Dekal Wireless robust service is slowly encroaching on BOTH LIME and Digicel Mobile Wireless territory in Kingston as per my article Crouching LIME Huawei E586 Mi-Fi – Hidden Dekal Wireless Dragon.
But here’s the Beef folk: Digicel also plans to launch its new HSDPA+ Release 7 Network on that very fateful Thursday. Yes, you heard it here first folks on Geezam!
This I learned on Friday 17th February 2012AD when I went to complete the final part of an assessment for a position as a Process Engineer at JAMALCO. Like as true blogger, I decided out of sheer idleness to make a quick stop at the Digicel Store as well as the LIME Store to inquire about their Wireless Broadband Services as well as get some LIME Prepaid Credit.
I soon chatted up one of the slender albeit not too shapely Digicel Customer Care Representatives and she quickly spilled the beans. I learned that their ongoing promotion as stated in the Media would be ending come Wednesday February 29th 2012AD; JA$2000 Prepaid Calling Credit with a replacement Digicel SIM in exchange for a fully functional CLARO SIM.
Similarly, when I went over the LIME store to purchase LIME Prepaid Credit and upon inquiring found that their offer of JA$1000 Prepaid Calling Credit with a replacement SIM in exchange for your active CLARO SIM sounded quite attractive and was still in force until Wednesday February 29th 2012AD.
Why neither company offered customers a FREE mobile phone (Blackberry Curve or Blackberry Bold, anyone??) with the replacement SIM is puzzling. This given the heightened nature of the competition estimated in a January 18th 2012AD Jamaica Gleaner article to be worth about JA$1.5 billion for CLARO’s estimated 517,000 subscribers and the popularity of Data Services on smartphones, the next Big thing along with Cloud Services for Digicel as prognosticated in CLARO’s Freeness ends 5th January 2012 – Digicel’s Bigger, Better with Data and Cloud.
But it was the Digicel Customer Care Representative nervously pre-recited words (??) with regards to the CLARO Modem Dongle that go my ears pricked.
Note form is best:
- Digicel is slated to not only shut down CLARO GSM Voice Network but also launch their significantly faster HSDPA+ Release 7 Network on Thursday March 1st 2012AD
- Digicel is exchanging CLARO Huawei Modem Dongles and active CLARO SIM Cards for Nokia 3G+ Modems Dongles.
- Ongoing promotions would soon indicate this to the public
- No word on the speed, no matter how much I pressed the Digicel Customer Care Representative with questions (not even when I use the Puss-in-boots look on her! sigh!)
Note the following folks: the “+”, indicates that it is definitely HSDPA+ Release 7, capable of speeds of up to 42MBps best effort, albeit speeds of about 10MBps are more likely to match their WiMaX (Wireless Interoperability for Microwave Access) Network. Digicel would have a pricing problem on their hands if they offered more speed at the current prices, which are quite expensive for Mobile Broadband, so speed matching is more likely.
The Digicel Customer Care Representatives words also confirm reports by members of the john Q. Public that Digicel is indeed apparently testing 3G on their Network, to which she had hinted in the affirmative. Even members of TechJamaica had reported seeing indications of such on their mobile phones in a thread on their technology forum!
Interestingly enough, when I inquired of LIME Customer Care Representatives what they were planning to do for CLARO Modem Dongle users, their reply was rather nonchalant:
- No modem dongles swaps were offered, only the LIME SIM with JA$1000 Prepaid Calling Credit for a CLARO SIM
- No plans to upgrade their speed to even match that of Digicel current WiMaX powered 4G Network (say what!! A joke unnu a mek???)
- No immediate expansion plans yet for Rural Areas outside of Kingston or Portmore (seriously??)
- They however offered me a Business Card for a local computer repair Store ChattaBox Jamaica, claiming they were capable of unlocking the Huawei E1556 Modem Dongles, the common modem dongle type among CLARO subscribers (Ok. Nice…I guess!!)
Based on the above conversations, I realize that it was very much possible to actually unlock the Huawei E1556 Modem Dongle myself. After all, if you could install it, unlocking it would be a breeze and could potentially save you from becoming another POW (Prisoner of War) …er…sales mark in LIME and Digicel rather pointless and lackluster tiff over 517,000 CLARO subscribers.
Really LIME and Digicel??
My annoyance aside, I did eventually come out of both my encounters with LIME and Digicel’s Customer care Representatives with some positives. At the hinting of one of the LIME Customer Care Representatives, it turns out you can do exactly that with the help of Google. But be warned: the next few lines are for the brave and intrepid reader ONLY. It is also advised that before you attempt the below, make sure the computer you are using has no viruses or other malware on it. In fact, to be on the safe side, backup your Computer or Laptop’s Data and format and reinstall your version of Windows to make sure you have a perfectly clean slate.
Trust me, as a Telecom Technician, its best to install firmware updates on computer or machines with a perfectly clean computer. ANY hassle you have to go through when doing firmware upgrades or even mobile phone unlocking is worth the wait to avoid the complications of a bricked and thus inoperable device. If you are really a brave soul and have (gulp) taken the above precautions, then here are the DIY (Do-it-yourself) steps for unlocking your Huawei E1556 Modem Dongle, courtesy of the blogger Ruchira Sahan as detailed on his blog RuchiraBlog:
- Check the IMEI (International Mobile Equiptment Identification) Number on your Huawei E1556 Modem Dongle
- Visit this link on his blog to calculate the unlock code for your particular modem to obtain the 8-digit Huawei Modem Dongles Unlock Code
- Insert your Huawei E1556 Modem Dongle, taking care not to make it install its software on your computer. If its already installed, uninstall it, as it will interfere with the unlocking procedure
- Download and install Ruchira Sahan’s custom Huawei Modem Dongle unlock software. Fret not, dear reader, I’ve done it and it’s safe and stable thus far!
- UnRar and install the software and then insert your Huawei E1556 Modem Dongle
- Use the software to detect the port that your Huawei E1556 Modem Dongle is connected
- Click the “Unlock Modem” option and then enter the 8-digit Huawei Modem Dongles Unlock Code from the link on his blog to calculate the unlock code for your particular modem
- At this point you Huawei E1556 Modem Dongle should be unlocked and capable of accepting SIM from either Digicel or LIME, whichever you prefer.
More later on Geezam when Digicel lights the candles and reveals their HSDPA+ Release 7 Network! Here’ praying for speeds higher than 10MBps (20MBps perhaps!?) at the same price, with a price drop for the slower speed WiMaX. Also an upgrade of their IP RAN (IP Radio Access Network) would hot hurt in terms of Latency and ensuring best effort speeds as advertised being achieved.
But what possible use could a customer have for the higher speeds in the LTE domain? Another article…..another TIME
Here’s the Links for the above mentioned:
Guide to unlock any Huawei HSDPA modem for free
Unlock codes for Huawei Modem Dongles
Ruchira Sahan’s custom Huawei Modem Dongle unlock software
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Lindsworth is a Radio Frequency and Generator Maintenance Technician who has a knack for writing about his work, which is in the Telecoms Engineering Field. An inspired writer on themes as diverse as Autonomous Ants simulations, Power from Lightning and the current Tablet Wars.