Payphone to 4G

My how far we have come in our little island of Barbados. Not too long ago we were bickering over the use of the telephone line with our older siblings who wanted to talk on the phone while you wanted to go on the Internet.

A calling card for a pay phone was as cool as it got for mobile type calling, but slowly pay phone calling cards made way to Nokia mobiles, and if you really wanted to show off you got one with the antenna that lit up every time you received a call or text message.

And can you remember life before per-second billing when a call was $1.29 a minute (or part thereof)? Those where the good ole days – days spent making polyphonic ringtones of your favourite songs with those peanut shaped Motorola’s or wasting hours of your life playing that eight-bit snake game on your Nokia.

That was a time when you thought it just couldn’t get any better for us in Barbados, technology wise.

But thankfully they did. Between 2005 and today, the technological growth in Barbados has been booming, and every year it seems to continue to gain momentum. It started off with LIME (then Cable & Wireless) offering a much more affordable and widespread ADSL network.

Then, thank God, came mobile carrier competition in the form of AT&T and Digicel, offering much more modern mobile phones at a much better price, and even though only one remains the presence of competition keeps prices and service somewhat in check for both companies.

The birth of 4G networks unlocked a whole feast of possibilities and ideas. It has changed the way we do things, the devices we use and how we use them. No longer are the words, “But that don’t work bout here so I ain’t buying it” uttered.

Mobile hotspot devices now make it possible to work from anywhere (you get good 3G signal) and has made Barbados into a 166 square mile office space, and with greater ADSL speeds we now have the freedom of leaving the office on time and continuing to work from home. We are now afforded much more freedom through the technology boom.

It seems like in an instant we have gone from distorted, less than stellar CBC coverage of events on site, to live steady quality video streaming of political meetings. We now have our first fully online newspaper and surly will have other digital publications and magazines to follow.

And now as we prepare to inter the age of fibre optic technologies I can’t help but marvel at what our little island has accomplished in such a small time.

Although the extremely ambitious 11.11.11 project didn’t quite materialise like the organisers planned, it begs the question as to why LIME hasn’t looked to offer wireless Internet to its customers on a wider scale. Who knows, maybe that is next.

But I think we should all give ourselves a pat on the back, as most of us have not just accepted but have come along for the ride on the digital wave which is consuming Barbados. And for a people who generally don’t like change I think we have handled this very well. With even the older generations getting in on the tablets and smartphones it seems like we will just continue to embrace and move forward with the times.

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