Caribserve launches fourth generation internet access

POSTED: 04/12/11 12:18 PM

Wimax: faster, cheaper, and available “anytime, anywhere”

St. Maarten – Internet service provider Caribserve announced the introduction of its Wimax 4G network yesterday. “This is a major milestone for UTS and its affiliate Caribserve,” said Roy Richardson, Caribserve’s Chief Technology Officer and UTS’s interim Chief operating officer at a press conference at the UTS training center.

Wimax 4G, a fourth generation wireless digital communication system, offers efficient bandwidth usage and suffers less from interference. Currently, already 700 Caribserve internet-users have signed up for the new service.

Richardson said that Caribserve has “between 7,000 and 8,000” subscribers, and that the company’s target is a customer base of 10,000. Current subscribers will be able to switch to Wimax for a standard fee of $50.

Peggy Ann Brandon, the director of the bureau for Telecommunication and Post, attended the press conference to express her satisfaction with the new service. “I am pleased that the access to communication is enhanced this way,” she said. “I trust that the pricing will be so that it offers lower thresholds and better access.”

Currently the Wimax network covers Cupecoy, Maho, Beacon Hill, Airport, Simpson Bay, Pelican Key, Cole bay, Cul de Sac, Philipsburg, Pointe Blanche, Madame estate and sucker Garden.

By August 1, the second phase of the network will be completed. “”We now offer coverage in 75 percent of St. Maarten and by July it will be 95 percent,” Richardson said.

In the third quarter, Caribserve will build the network on the French side. Richardson expects that this project will be completed by the end of the year.

Internet-users who switch to Wimax will receive double the bandwidth they are paying for now for the same price. The system makes outdoor aerials redundant. They will be replaced by a Wimax modem the size of a book that needs to be placed near a window for optimal reception.

Apart from two Wimax modems for stationary use (a standard version and one with a built-in Wi-Fi-router), Caribserve will shortly introduce a Wimax 4G dongle, a device slightly larger than a USB-stick for internet access on the go.

Another (future) option is a portable Wimax modem that can be used anywhere and gives, apart from its owner, other computers internet access as well.

One of the advantages of the new technology is that it is no longer necessary to send out technicians to install outdoor antennas. The Wimax modem is a plug and play device that only needs a power source and a location near a window. “We have experienced problems with the outdoor antennas during hurricanes,” Richardson said. “They were either ripped off the roof or turned upside down in a storm and then they filled up with water.”

Richardson said that the company is now able to focus on the transmitter network and to offer a better service to customers.

In the current coverage area, nineteen transmitters have been installed. The distance between them is at no point larger than one kilometer, Richardson said. While Wi-Fi technology has a reach of between 100 and 300 feet, Wimax provides access up to several miles from the closest transmitter.

Caribserve provided the Wimax service for this year’s Heineken Regatta.  The company also sponsors the Book Mobile of the Jubilee Library with a Wimax internet connection. Yesterday, Richardson announced a third sponsorship, for the after school activities of the No Kidding with our Kids Foundation.

Caribserve started exploring its next generation technology two-and-a-half years ago. On March 23 of last year, the company signed an agreement in Las Vegas with Motorola for the development of the Wimax 4G network.

The company’s goal is to provide internet access anytime anywhere on the island. Wimax may be just the tool to make this happen, if we rely on a statement about the technology on the web site: “Wimax has the potential to revolutionize broadband Internet access in the same way that cell phones have changed telecommunications industry. In the same way that many people have given up their “land lines” in favor of cell phones, Wimax could replace cable and DSL services in the near future, providing universal Internet access just about anywhere you go.”

Depending on payment methods, Caribserve offers the cheapest Wimax subscription (1 MB per second upload, 256 Kb per second download) for $50 per month, and the most expensive one (3 MB per second upload, 768 Kb per second download) for $150 per month.


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