Wednesday, 18 July 2012 02:31
By caribarena news
Antigua St. John's - Caribarena has received information indicating that the Ministry of Telecommunications has put APUA at a serious disadvantage to telecommunications companies LIME and Digicel.
According to our source, Digicel and LIME have been allocated all of the lower frequency bands for cell phone use, as well as most of the higher frequency bands, with APUA receiving only the highest and the third highest bands. Lower Frequency Bands
Digicel has been allocated the following frequency bands:
836.5 - 849 MHz
880 - 902 MHz
925 - 947 MHz
Higher Frequency Bands
1725 - 1734.8 MHz
1820 - 1829.8 Mhz
1850 - 1865 MHz
1930 - 1945 MHz
LIME have been allocated:Lower Frequency Bands
824 - 835 MHz
869 - 880 MHz
Higher Frequency Bands
1710.2 - 1718.2 MHz
1805.2 - 1813.2 MHz
1870 - 1885 MHz
1950 - 1965 MHz
In contrast, APUA have only been allocated:Higher Frequency Bands
1890 - 1910 MHz
1970 - 1990 MHz
In telecommunications, the lower frequency bands are known to cover more area with less equipment, saving potentially millions in costs of initial investment, maintenance, and operations.
This frequency allocation means that LIME and Digicel can operate significantly less equipment and yet provide better coverage than APUA can.
Caribarena has also contacted Telecommunications Officer Clemente Samuel and Minister of Telecommunications Dr. Edmond Mansoor and requested the official frequency allocation, but has so far received no response from either party.
Caribarena.com has also learned that APUA have requested from the Minister of Telecommunications a portion of the 700 MHz band for the establishment of a 4G LTE network.
In a letter to the Minister dated June 6th, 2012, General Manager of APUA Esworth Martin states, "We are seeking only to be both fair and pragmatic by only asking for what is critically needed in order to put us on a fair competitive footing within Antigua and Barbuda."
The GM adds, "Given our relative small size and limited buying power, as compared to Lime and Digicel, and the material current lower spectrum allocation imbalance, I cannot imagine how we can compete successfully without being granted this specific request."
In another letter to APUA Chairman Clarvis Joseph, the GM indicated that this request had not been granted or even acknowledged.
The GM said, "Furthermore, as a result of other competitive disadvantages due to economies of scale and scope faced by a small national carrier versus two relatively large multinational carriers, and an early indication by the Ministry that they are about to award our only viable LTE frequencies to another carrier, APUA finds itself on the precipice of loosing its $EC100M+ investment in wireless.
"We were led to understand that our requirements would be considered first before 700 MHz spectrum would be allocated and yet it seems that exactly the opposite has occurred. Based on what we thought was a solemn commitment by the government, we have ordered over $EC15M of equipment for our LTE expansion and this investment is now in Jeopardy as is the fate of our complete wireless venture and by extension the entire Telecoms Business Unit, and by further extension APUA. This situation needs to be addressed in order to save our national investment in wireless and upwards of 150 jobs. "
Caribarena contacted Mr. Martin on the 12th of July via email, requesting answers to questions raised by this development.
However, we have received no response from the General Manager or any other person within APUA on this subject.
The lack of response from the Authority on an issue of such importance to its own survival raises the question, just how transparent is the Antigua Public Utilities Authority?
Why has the General Manager avoided responding to questions on an issue which he raised with the Minister and APUA's Chairman?
Furthermore, what connection the recently announced GATE Project and Digicel's 4G network have to this frequency allocation "imbalance" is still unclear.