Who should improve Haiti’s wireless network?


Now that Google is on track to extend big bandwidth networks  what conversations have been taking place between them and the country of Haiti,  I wonder?  According to Google’s website, the company plans to test an ultra-high speed broadband network here in the states.  And network builders already operating in Haiti are envisioning what to do next.

Google made available a Request for Information packet to US municipalities in  February 2010. The response deadline is  March 26, 2010.  The RFI is only the first step in the process, but Google plans to select targeted communities sometime this year.


In a recent article titled “Telecom companies seek to make Haiti a mobile nation” (Washington Post, March 24th, 2010),  the reporter covered some of the pronouncements made during the   CTIA  Wireless conference and trade show going on in Las Vegas this week.

images of the Google NEXUS ONE cell phone
fastest processor in a cell phone

It mentioned the earthquake that devastated Haiti also destroyed the nation’s feeble network for phones and Internet service… except for cellphones, the population was largely cut off from communication, but out of the rubble, one U.S. wireless industry pioneer sees opportunity…..


To build a new regional capacity to offer wireless voice and data (internet surfing) bandwidth in an area is human labor intensive. These transmission systems are products that cannot be built in a laboratory, shrinked wrapped and put into service because wireless RF spectrum delivery has to be custom fitted to the neighborhoods, cities and towns – block by block.

It takes lots of time and trials to spread the wireless blanket where it needs to be so that most phones and modem devices will work properly.  It has taken Verizon’s contract provider almost two years to custom fit the Boston area with new LTE 4G capability and it’s still an ongoing process that won’t be ready until late 2010 or early in 2011.

The article quoted John Stanton, founder of Voice Stream and former chief executive of T-Mobile USA who said he  wants the Haitian government to forget about rebuilding its copper wire communications network.  Instead, he thinks Haiti should go mobile.

Wait, not so fast John!

Wireline service is infinitely more reliable than wireless service. And, building out a wired system will require the hiring of more local residents.  Whoever gets the job for the buildout should progressively hire more locals than not because if you don’t, there will be disruptions, delays and higher security cost.   John, you need to create wireline networks and wireless  networks too.

And why not consider cost? Think about it. You can now buy hardware cheaper than its ever been  because during the economic downturn, equipment providers such as Alcatel-Lucent, Ericcson and other have had some major inventory problems.  Last year, companies stopped  buying as much as they used to,  the products were piling up in warehouses and major carriers began to invest in newer more expensive equipment which hasn’t been fully developed yet.

Buy the good stuff cheap to make the bulk of a new network.

The article disclosed Stanton called for the Haitian government to create an all-wireless nation with more robust networks  for the population of nearly 10 million and to build an economy centered on mobile technology in his keynote speech to the  wireless industry.

He pledged that his company, Trilogy, would commit up to $100 million to expand its network there. Trilogy owns Haiti’s second-largest cellphone company, Voilà the article said.

Skeptics may wonder what the word “commit” means if he actually does it.  Could be that  $100 million is on the cheap side if  Haiti licenses  the frequency spectrum for Stanton’s wannabe network.

Verizon recently spent an estimated $9 billion to have the right to use these signals in the United States. But I have no doubt that there is a deal in the works.  After all, air is free but man-made frequencies for RF transmissions are not.  Haiti could levy a competitive price for them in exchange for sharing per subscriber revenue.

>> “Haiti is very mountainous and the people are very fond of their cellphones,” said Raymond Joseph, Haiti’s ambassador to  the United States.  “In that sense, a wireless system would just be leaping over all sorts of impediments to connect the whole country.”

Hello World

What Joseph didn’t say is that there is a reason why the whole country is not connected right now and rather than dwell on a negative theme,  let’s let that one go for now.

The article reported that Trilogy told the Haitian government that more spectrum is needed for commercial carriers.  Ah ha, this is where Haiti can obtain decent fees for new wireless spectrum licenses.

Now that Google has pulled back on China, perhaps it has something to offer as well.
It will be interesting to see who ultimately gets their way and I hope its the people of Haiti.