With Digicell’s 4G cell sites having been activated between Belmopan to the Benque Viejo Border early last month, a similar pattern of activity is now taking place between Belmopan and Punta Gorda. Five more cell sites are now being readied for full operation between these two areas and when this takes place by mid-April of this year, it will mark a full Digicell 4G Coverage for Belize.
“The coverage is all the major urban centers and all the villages along the Northern, Philip Goldson and George Price Highway and we also will have at least ninety percent of the whole Hummingbird and Southern Highway”, says Rafael Marin, Chief Information Officer at Belize Telemedia Limited.
Digicell 4G is a new service being offered by Belize Telemedia Limited and have thus far proved to be convenient for customers who are on the constant move. The improved broadband speeds that 4G brings, use HSPA plus Technology (a technical standard for wireless), which operates on the 850 MHz Frequency. It allows the uploading of pictures and applications in an environment of greater bandwidth. The 4G network also allows for downloads of multi-media at faster speeds.
According to Deputy Prime Minister Gaspar Vega, speaking at the BTL 2013 Directory launching in San Ignacio last week, the new 4G Network allows access to a wealth of information at our fingertips. Such connectivity, said the Minister of Agriculture, flattens the playing field allowing farmers and food producers to remain competitive and to bring down costs.
“A great equalizer in the technology divide is the ability to communicate easily and affordably, to understand the market needs and respond to them.”
The sending and receiving of information at fantastic speeds and in real time allows for not only an explosion of hand held devices, but gives greater opportunities for businesses to develop and even flourish. Both the Belize Bank with its ‘Belize Bank Mobile’ and Heritage Bank with its ‘Cell Phone Banking’, among other Banks, now offer innovative services that use cell phones as text messaging mediums; to communicate data such as account balances. This is in addition to the now widely available internet banking that allows unprecedented access by Bank Customers to their accounts.
But Rafael Marin considers that Digicell 4G will bring ever greater abilities to conduct financial transactions.
“…Further down the road as we introduce applications such as m-money where the farmer will be able to sell and collect for their produce via the 4G Network,” he said.
“…It is the same concept of the prepaid, if you already have a purse with so much money in it, that you can top up, you can actually use that money to pay somebody else through their phone, we would just have to develop furthermore to put in a system of cash out…”
This trend of receiving and sending money via cell phones has been successfully done in East Africa, with M-Pesa. The mobile money transfers were begun by Safaricom, a pioneering Kenyan operator that has come to benefit many urban and rural Kenyans. M-Pesa is now a significant contributor to the Kenya’s GDP—money transfers worth some $8.6 billion in the first half of this year.
While banking transactions on the move are a mainstay for many businesses, farmers in Belize could also benefit from Digicell’s 4G. The Ministry of Agriculture is also now looking towards including text messaging as a method of communicating crop forecasting and pricing data and general agriculture extension work. Such interaction between the Ministry and farmers will allow for remote diagnosis to be made on matters relating to plant and animal diseases.
Information can now be swapped at breathtaking speeds by Belize Telemedia customers in the North, Central and Western portions of Belize. Those who look forward to the opportunity of Wireless communications now also have a wide choice of mobile devices that can now satisfy Digicell 4G’s data specifications.