Relay #70, Panel F

don't just know technology, understand it

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

LIME 3G vs. Claro 3G: And the winner is... Digicel?

Here in Jamaica a war in looming on the mobile Internet landscape. Claro had fired the first salvo when they launched their 3G network after purchasing MiPhone. Now LIME has entered the arena with their own offering.

I think, or rather hope, Digicel is quietly thanking LIME for their recent roll. Why? Because the enemy of my enemy is my friend.

Since Claro has come on the scene, in my humble opinion, they haven't really given any compelling reason to move to their network save one, their 3G data services. Sure, Claro has great features and call plans, but unless you make a wholesale move with all your friends and business associates, you wont be realising any real benefits any time soon. However 3G is a personal benefit that you can reap rewards from the day you sign up.

Whether or not that was the intent, 3G serves as a bottom-up approach to grabbing market share. If you can get enough people unto your network solely for 3G, it's not far fetched to assume that a sizable chunk of those users may want to make a call or two, or simply not want to have multiple devices (whether mobile phone or dongle), when a single device can perform all their needed functions. Therefore 3G users are all potential converts to Claro's voice services.

Now along comes LIME who, while still the second largest mobile carrier in the island, really hasn't had any fanfare to speak of over the last few months (years?), but have now changed that with the launch of their own 3G data service. Claro is gunning for the incumbent, and 3G is how they could, or rather would, have done it. Now that LIME has rolled out 3G however, the landscape has changed, and it now gives Digicel the high ground.

As of this writing, LIME has, hands down, the better 3G offering; both in terms of price and speed. This coupled with the proliferation of 3G capable devices already on LIME's network (read Blackberry), not to mention the free 3G dongle that users receive if they sign up for a 2 year contract, LIME is well suited to become the 3G provider of choice if that's what you're looking for from a carrier. And this is the death knell for Claro. Their hail mary, should their call plans not win users over, would have been their 3G data services. If users that just want data now have more compelling reasons to sign up with LIME, this takes away Claro's only competitive edge.

LIME is doing Digicel the favor of ensuring Claro remains uncompetitive. LIME is the evil Digicel already knows and, for the most part, tamed. Claro is still the loose canon and an unknown variable, and this attack by LIME only serves Digicel's purposes.

You can and should expect a response from Digicel sometime in the near future, but rest assured that there's silent appreciation of the work LIME is doing in lieu of their own battle plan. Digicel wont be losing customers to Claro any time soon.

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