UK-backed and part state-owned cellco, the Bahamas Telecommunications Company (BTC), has celebrated the commercial launch of its HSDPA network and the opening of the telco’s debut store in The Mall at Marathon, marking the occasion with a speech from the country’s prime minister. In his speech, Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham offered his congratulations to BTC head Geoff Houston, commending the company for using Bahaman labour for the infrastructure rollout and the construction of the first of BTC’s 50 planned stores, as well as their contribution to meeting e-government objectives: ‘In the most basic terms, and complementing the government’s e-government initiative, this new technology means that BTC is offering a modern platform where persons are able to complete a banking transaction and renew their driver’s licence from their mobile phone device while taking care of other matters. Eventually, Bahamians and residents can expect to pay their Real Property Tax or submit an NIB contribution online as 4G will allow us to do on our smart phones what we can now do from a computer.’
Although BTC has marketed the new network as 4G, the technology is actually an incremental improvement of the W-CDMA platform and is more commonly referred to as 3.5G. The network currently has coverage over the majority of New Providence and the Freeport area of Grand Bahama, offering maximum download speeds of up to 8Mbps. BTC plans to extend the network to the Abaco, Eleuthera and Exuma islands by the third quarter of 2012, as part of its USD43 million investment in network development.