Digicel Fiji says that its deployment of 4G technology in the country will be largely driven by the affordability of 4G-enabled handsets to customers. The carrier’s commercial director Andrew Skelton told the Fiji Village newspaper that the company will not forge ahead with its commercial rollout until it feels there are enough lower-cost devices for its end users, adding that in the meantime it will exert pressure on handset manufacturers to make cheaper handsets. ‘It costs FJD700 [USD371.3] for a 4G-enabled phone and how many people in the market can actually afford a FJD700 phone?’ Mr Skelton said.
The official went on to say that a significant portion of its customers are yet to migrate from 2G to 3G. Whilst the region of Suva is ‘very 3G-centric’, Skelton notes that once you move into other areas, they are dominated by very basic handsets with only simple functions, such as SMS and voice calling. The director says that Digicel Fiji is expected to roll out its Long Term Evolution (LTE) network by early 2014, but warns: ‘I think the misconception in the market is that 4G is here and all the phones can access it — that is not the case.’
In a related development, Digicel rival Vodafone Fiji has released more details on its own launch of 4G services this month. In a release, the cellco notes that customers will be able to take advantage of mobile broadband internet, rich content and multimedia applications and high-definition (HD) videos. Its 4G network uses the 1800MHz band, is available from launch in parts of Suva, Lami and some parts of Nasinu, and will soon be available in selected parts of Nadi and Denarau. Theoretical maximum download speeds are 100Mbps, however typical download speeds will range from 2Mbps to 20Mbps, it said. On upload, a user can experience between 1Mbps and 5Mbps.