LIME’s plan to roll out a 4G mobile network across all three islands was not only on schedule, it was ahead of plan.
Although LIME had promised to start rolling this new technology out in Grand Cayman in September and in the Sister Islands in early 2012, parts of Grand Cayman were enjoying the benefits of the 4G mobile network as early as August, and in the Sister Islands plans were brought forward to September, well before originally planned.
The new generation mobile network places the Cayman Islands on par with any other developed nation in terms of telecommunications technology.
For mobile phone users this new network means much faster data transfer, with the 4G mobile network capable of download rates up to 60 times faster than the EDGE network it replaces.
Individuals will be able to enjoy the same experience – in terms of data transfer speeds – wherever they are in the Islands, and whatever device they are accessing the Internet with. Whether it’s the middle of George Town or Little Cayman, a smartphone or a laptop, users will enjoy the same reliable connectivity.
Whereas data transfer used to hover around a maximum speed of 150 Kbps in Grand Cayman and 32-50 Kbps in the Sister Islands, making photos slow to download and video streaming jerky and awkward, all three islands are now enjoying speeds that will now be measured in Mbps!
The improvements to the network also means that LIME has been able to slash rates for data usage from $3.59 per megabyte to just 30 cents per megabyte for data usage over and above one’s agreed plan and also offer prepaid customers data plans which they can access from the USSD menu on their handset for a period of 1 day, 7 days or 30 days.
Blackberry and smartphone users are already enjoying the benefits of the faster data transfer and the most advanced 4G mobile devices can now be used to their fullest potential with the improved speeds. However, because the technology is ‘backward compatible’, 3G enabled devices will also notice improved speeds for data transfer.
Laptop and tablet computer users will also be able to take advantage of the new network when they are away from the home or office by accessing the network via a 4G dongle, which plugs straight into the USB port. There is also a very convenient 4G MiFi device which fits in your pocket providing a personal hotspot that up to five devices can connect to.
Local businesses however are the ones that LIME believes have the potential to benefit most from the 4G mobile network. In fact, they believe that with this new level of connectivity, businesses may even start to change the way they operate.
The combination of the 4G mobile network and increasingly sophisticated smartphones, tablet computers and applications will mean that business executives will be able to move from the office to external environments seamlessly.
In the past, says Tony Ritch, General Manager at LIME Cayman Islands.
“You were restricted to limited download options because of the length of time it would take. Now you can experience the amazing speed of 4G which makes it easy for you to download documents and spreadsheets or stream videos. Consumers can expect to experience the same speeds whether they are on the beach or sitting at their desks.”
Businesses at all levels stand to benefit from this technology although Ritch warns that while LIME provides the technology, it will be up to individual businesses to come up with their own ways of taking advantage of the capabilities.
“I really believe that there are businesses like utility companies and maintenance companies that stand to benefit. With a tablet device they can visit customers and place their order immediately.
They also have the ability to take payments with the addition of a card swipe that works with as an attachment to the tablet and email customers the receipt – no more paper.
Some restaurants in the US are using iPads instead of printed menus, you place your order on the iPad which means the servers don’t get your order wrong, and the order is immediately sent electronically to the kitchen for the chef to prepare.
Once you have finished your meal, they just click on the device to produce your bill again taking payment with a card swipe attached to the device and email you your receipt.
I think it is going to take some time to evolve, but I’m expecting to see businesses start to really treat the mobile broadband technology as a real utility whereby they can start taking their service and their capabilities on the road with them,” says Mr Ritch.
The average speed users will experience on their mobile devices will be comparable with that which users of the fixed line Internet service experience. However, Mr Ritch warns that the 4G network is not designed to replace existing broadband connections as the service cannot support unlimited data utilization. Customers are therefore advised to use their fixed line or ADSL connection when at home or at work, but to enjoy the full benefits of LIME’s 4G when on the go!