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Jamaica

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Basics Edit

On the Caribbean island of Jamaica there are 3 mobile network operators:

  • Digicel Jamaica
  • Flow (by Cable & Wireless)
  • Caricel (4G/LTE only)

Mobile service in the Caribbean had been under the control of Cable & Wireless, the longtime provider of telecommunications services in the region. Cable & Wireless had little competition or incentive to change and service was considered expensive and poor in quality.

In 2001 Jamaica decided to open its phone market up for competition. Digicel, owned by Irish entrepreneur Denis O'Brien, first established itself in 2001 in Jamaica. It grew to 100,000 customers there in approximately 100 days. Now Jamaica is home to over 3 million mobile users, with Digicel claiming around 2.2 million and Flow having around one million.

In 2016 Jamaica's cabinet approved the award of a third license to Symbiote Investments that has paid US$ 20.8 million to roll out a 4G LTE service under the Caricel brand. They started in 2017 but face a regulatory investigation into the circumstances of their licensing.

All prices are given in Jamaican dollar (J$ or JMD), that is a free floating currency not linked to the US dollar. All taxes are included.

Digicel Jamaica Edit

Digicel Jamaica

Jamaica was the first market where Digicel started in 2001 in the Caribbean. It's considered as their home base and they soon became market leader on the island with a dominant share of all customers.

They run a dual CDMA and GSM network. CDMA is on BC1 and only for inbound roaming. Their GSM 2G is on 900 MHz and 1800 MHz and 3G is on 850 MHz up to DC-HSPA+. They started 4G/LTE on 700 MHz or Band 17 on June 9, 2016 in Kingston, St Andrew and around the Sangster International Airport in Montego Bay, with hopes of it reaching other parts of the island soon. On their 2G/3G networks they claim to cover 99% of Jamaicans: coverage-map.

Digicel is also the only carrier to offer HD Voice in Jamaica, available on its 3G network for AMR-WB or VoLTE capable devices.

Availability Edit

Their SIM card is around JMD 500-700 in their stores (locator) and other locations. Be prepared to show a passport for purchase.

Top-ups can be made online by credit card or PayPal, where you can buy plans directly too. Alternatively, you can use vouchers sold all over the islands without surcharges.

Dial *120# to check your account balance & dial *120*9# for your data balance.

Digicel, is active on social media and offers assistance through that medium to its customers in addition to the traditional means, 

Data feature packages Edit

Default data is JMD 45 per MB. They offer different plans with or without their new 4G/LTE:

"4G" plans with data up to 3G/HSPA+ and 4G/LTE plans have the same quota:

Data Time Price
300 MB 2 days JMD 150
275 MB 3 days JMD 275
350 MB 3 days JMD 350
1.5 GB 7 days JMD 700
3 GB 30 days JMD 1950
4 GB 30 days JMD 2500

Activate by *147#, check balance by *120*9#. All plans roll over data from your previous plan when a new plan is activated prior to expiry of the current plan. All plans auto-renew. These add-ons are offered for their 4G/LTE plans for more data:

  • 300 MB: JMD 200
  • 1 GB: JMD 600
  • 3 GB: JMD 1500
  • 5 GB: JMD 2000

Add-on data packs expire with existing data plan. You must have an active data plan in order to purchase data pack add on.

International roaming Edit

Roam Like You're Home plans allow Digicel customers travelling to the USA, Canada and all other Digicel Caribbean territories to call, text and use data at domestic Jamaican rates. You will need to connect to AT&T or T-Mobile in the US, Rogers in Canada or all Caribbean Digicel networks. To activate Roam like you are Home dial *153*100#

  • for 3 days: JMD 800 including 10 mins, 10 SMS and 10 MB
  • for 7 days: JMD 1000 including 15 mins, 10 SMS and 10 MB
  • for 14 days: JMD 1400 including 20 mins, 15 SMS and 15 MB
  • for 30 days: JMD 2300 including 30 mins, 30 SMS and 30 MB

Note that domestic data bundles don't apply while on the Roam Like You're Home plan. You will be charged the domestic default rate of JMD 45 per MB while roaming beyond the included quota.

More info Edit

  • APN: web.digiceljamaica.com

FLOW Jamaica Edit

Flow

FLOW, previously called LIME is the incumbent provider in Jamaica. It's operated by Cable & Wireless Communications which is owned by Liberty Global.

FLOW's 2G network is on 850 MHz and 1900 MHz. FLOW's 3G network also resides on 850 MHz and 1900 MHz and is capable of up to DC-HSDPA on 1900 MHz in some areas. Both their 2G & 3G networks are available islandwide. FLOW started its 4G/LTE rollout in the Kingston Metropolitan Area in December 2016 and plans to cover major towns on the island by late 2017.eTher 4G/LTE network currently has less geographical coverage than Digicel's, as well as less in-building penetration (higher frequencies like AWS propagate less readily than lower frequencies like 700 MHz), but offers twice as much theoretical speed and network capacity on 1700/2100 MHz (AWS, Band 4). FLOW currently throttles prepaid customers to speeds around of 50 Mbit/s down and 10 Mbit/s up on its LTE network. FLOW is also acquiring 700 MHz to supplement its current spectrum holdings

FLOW is also the roaming partner for inbound roamers on Verizon and AT&T in the US, Rogers in Canada, 3, EE, O2 and Vodafone

Availability Edit

Their SIM card is sold in their stores (locator) for around JMD 500. Be prepared to show your passport at the point of purchase. For LTE, you need a LTE-enabled SIM card which is available at any Flagship FLOW Store. Simply ask the sales associate for one which should be labeled "Prepaid Mobile LTE". Also, ensure that your phone is compatible with LTE Band 4 and is at least a Cat. 4 LTE device in order to realize the full network potential.

Top-ups can be made online or in top-up kiosks, supermarkets and gas stations all over the island.

Any top-up stays valid for 90 days irrespective of the amount. Check your airtime balance by dialing *120# and check your data balance by dialing *129*6*1#.

FLOW, like Digicel, is active on social media and offers assistance through that medium to its customers in addition to the traditional means.

Data feature packages Edit

FLOW data plans called "FLOW Lyf" plans each come with allotments of data as well data allotments for Deezer music streaming, WhatsApp audio calling and access to FLOW Sports, a network similar to ESPN, available to all mobile & TV subscribers (provided you sign up for a FLOW ID; essential for using the MyFLOW App for Android or iOS and the FLOW Sports app as well).

Default rate outside packages is JMD 45 per MB. These data packs avail users of their 2G, 3G and 4G/LTE network:

Data Time Price WhatsApp Audio Deezer Activation
200 MB 2 days JMD 150 3 MB 600 MB *146*2*1#
350 MB 3 days JMD 250 5 MB 600 MB *146*3*2#
400 MB 7 days JMD 400 15 MB 600 MB *146*7*1#
750 MB 30 days JMD 700 22 MB 1.2 GB *146*30*2#
1.5 GB 30 days JMD 1000 22 MB 1.2 GB *146*30*3#
3 GB 30 days JMD 1750 22 MB 1.2 GB *146*30*4#

All weekly and monthly packages auto-renew (except the 200 MB, 2-day plan). To stop auto-renewal dial *787#. To check data balance type *146*0#.

International roaming Edit

For roaming in the US (on AT&T's 3G network), Canada (on Rogers and Telus's 3G networks) and all FLOW markets in the Caribbean (including bmobile in Trinidad & Tobago), they sell these Roaming Data passes:

  • 50 MB for 3 days: JMD 500, activation: *134*3#
  • 100 MB for 7 days: JMD 900, activation: *134*4#

More info Edit

  • APN: ppinternet (works with tethering)

Caricel (on LTE-only) Edit

Caricel

Caricel, a local brand of Symbiote Investments won a license as third operator in 2016 under still disputed circumstances. In 2017 they started their 4G/LTE-only network on 700 MHz (band 13) in Portmore and Kingston and St. Andrew. Without any fallback to 2G or 3G they don't cater for the mobile market, but for home internet through Mifis and modems. That's why they can't be recommended for travellers. And their license is still in danger to be revoked.

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