Above: TSTT’s VP Mobile Chevon Wilson discusses 4G LTE benefits at the bmobile Tech Expo 2017. Photo courtesy bmobile.
Fourth Generation (4G) Long Term Evolution (LTE) is as much as ten times faster than existing 3G networks, with a significantly reduced transfer latency. Currently, bmobile is the only local provider of 4G LTE, which was launched in December 2016. TSTT’s Vice President of Mobile Services, Chevon Wilson, recently discussed how the company has expanded 4G LTE coverage by 60% since the service was launched.
When the service was launched, it was primarily in three geographic areas, Port of Spain, San Fernando and some parts of Tobago. bmobile has since improved that significantly, with LTE coverage extending to major centres along the East-West corridor up to Sangre Grande, as well as Central Trinidad in areas like Chaguanas, Freeport and Couva. There are considerably more areas in Tobago with coverage, and customers in Trinidad’s east coast and deep south with LTE-enabled pre-paid and post-paid packages can now enjoy superior data speeds in areas such as Mayaro, Point Fortin, Princes Town and Siparia. Wilson noted that the company is continuing to expand for nationwide LTE coverage.
Wilson sees customer demand being the driving force behind an expected increase in LTE usage across T&T in the coming months and years.
“The way people use data now, I think the market is going to demand that we go to LTE. So our job is ensuring that we can support that demand.”
Wilson said the company has already seen rapid growth in data usage but not just because of 4G LTE. “We have done a lot of work on our HSPA+ network as well. The speeds that you get on the H+ network now are much better than in the past. Even without having LTE, you can now enjoy a better experience streaming music and videos on your smart phone and if you make the upgrade to an LTE SIM, you’ll get the superior experience that 4G LTE promises.”
Wilson noted that customers often ask if there’s an additional premium to be paid for LTE. “The short answer to that is no. All of our pre-paid and post-paid plans have been enhanced for better value. Our new data plans are all LTE-enabled plans, so once you’re in an LTE coverage area and you have an LTE SIM card, you can automatically benefit from the faster access as part of your plan so there’s no premium price to pay for LTE.”
bmobile has also worked on negotiating lower rates for roaming with overseas carriers and in many cases secured a reduction in costs for customers of up to 90%. “We’ve succeeded in reducing rates in the past year and a half. Since then, we’ve seen increases in usage because more affordable rates allow customers to do more while abroad, especially for those who don’t want to wait until they’re in a Wi-Fi zone,” Wilson stated.
Last December, TSTT’s CEO Dr. Ronald Walcott announced a five-year strategic plan, involving a $3.7 billion investment, to transform the company in keeping with the vision to become the standard bearer for the leading edge communication solutions that will enrich the lives of citizens, businesses and visitors.
Wilson noted that TSTT has “invested in our network, deployed a lot of strategies, all of which are geared towards us being able to, ultimately, become an agile broadband company…That $3.7 billion covers our entire network, not just mobile services. We’re investing to ensure we can meet the demands of customers across our entire network.”