Bmobile, the cellular arm of state-backed Telecommunications Services of Trinidad & Tobago (TSTT) launched its commercial HSPA+ network last Friday, under the marketing slogan ‘Next…It’s 4G, but not just 4G’. The launch – around two months behind schedule – sees TSTT finally join rival Digicel in the HSPA+ mobile broadband sector. Diana de Sousa, acting CEO at TSTT, said her company has invested USD500 million in its wireless development programme and has rolled out ‘an entirely new 4G data network with enhanced voice,’ whilst high speed Wi-Fi zones (‘bZones’) have been deployed at 50 selected locations to augment the service.
TSTT launched 2G GSM services in 2003, followed by data platforms based on GPRS and EDGE in 2004 and 2006, before launching a separate 3G service over a CDMA2000 1xEV-DO network in October 2005, according to TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database, while in January 2010 TSTT enabled users to connect to a WiMAX wireless broadband network via Wi-Fi. However, take-up was so swift that the system soon hit its ‘design capacity’, and sales of WiMAX dongles choked off, according to technical representatives of TSTT interviewed by local newspaper the Guardian. The company has been engaged in removing an entire legacy 2G cellular network supplied by Nortel and replacing it with new equipment from Huawei, enabling the launch of HSPA+. It has to date switched 260 of 406 cell sites from obsolete Nortel gear to Huawei hardware and moved 85% of its network traffic over to the new network; Bmobile customers served by those cell sites will experience faster EDGE network speeds, the management told the Guardian reporter.