CellularOne to launch 3G video calling service

Hot on the heels of the M3 3G launch Cellular One launches their 3g network.

By Jonathan Kent

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Can you see me now? Michael Leverock shows off the new video calling feature of the upgraded 3G network that CellularOne will launch at the end of this month. Photo: Mark Tatem

CellularOne is to launch an upgraded wireless service that will allow its subscribers to make video calls and receive high-speed Internet service on their cell phones.

The third-generation (3G) UMTS network will also allow the use of SIM cards — which allow users to switch handsets — as well as worldwide roaming.

CellularOne’s chief operating officer Michael Leverock said the capacity and speed offered by the new network would allow full use of more sophisticated handsets, including the Apple iPhone 3G, Sony’s Z780 and the Nokia E71.

At CellularOne’s Reid Street offices, Mr. Leverock demonstrated a video call with marketing and distribution manager Diana Winfield. The technology allows the caller to see a live video of the person on the other end of the line on their cell phone screen.

The new network allows Internet download speeds of up to 3.6 megabits per second, which means users can watch YouTube videos and even live streaming video on their cell phone. The company claims there is no faster Internet service available on the Island.

Less than two weeks ago, M3 Wireless upgraded its network from 2G to 3G. Like CellularOne, it offers the iPhone.

Mr. Leverock said CellularOne, the trading name of Bermuda Digital Communications, had introduced a 3G service in 2003 in Bermuda, which had since been upgraded twice.

“The launch of the 3G/UMTS network is a natural progression for CellularOne, as we’ve been the industry leader in the introduction of new technology to Bermuda since the company was established almost 10 years ago,” Mr. Leverock said.

The company has invested $7 million in the new network, which it expects to launch at the end of the month.

“This will put us on a par with the services rolled out by the likes of AT&T and Deutsche Telekom,” Mr. Leverock added. “It also positions us well to adopt a 4G LTE network in the future.

“We’re now a one-stop shop for whatever broadband wireless services people may want. Now we have a fastest speed of 3.6 mbs — the next generation will be measured in multiples of ten.”

Mr. Leverock will be replaced as chief operating officer at the end of May by Frank Amaral. But he will stay in a strategic advisory role with the company he founded in July 1999 with chief executive officer Kurt Eve, as a director with a focus on special projects.

Energy, Telecommunications and E-Commerce Minister Terry Lister said of the launch: “This technology will be a great tool for both businesses and consumers because of the increased functionality it will provide. Congratulations to CellularOne for, once again, bringing important new technology to our Island.”

Last October, BDC invested in a strategic lead stake in Islandcom Telecommunications, of the Turks & Caicos Islands. Despite the suspension of the British Overseas Territory’s constitution by the UK, following a report that showed corruption at the highest level of the islands’ government, Mr. Leverock said the company’s business plan was still intact.

“Despite the hurricane and the political upheaval there, we are still on track,” Mr. Leverock said. “We have been assessing the infrastructure and we have some regulatory details to deal with.

“It’s unfortunate that the constitution had to be suspended. But the UK Government has come in and has afforded a level of stability. We believe the Turks and Caicos Islands is an upcoming and developing country.”

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