After years of being a cell phone “dead zone,” the Batkan area in Majuro is soon to get relief. This new tower is being installed on the ocean side near Jim McLean’s house.
“Batkan is one of the blind spots for cell reception, which is why we are putting up the tower,” said NTA General Manager Tommy Kijiner, Jr. “This would also allow us to provide air fiber in the area while we continue to roll out actual fiber to homes.”
Funding for the project was provided by the College of the Marshall Islands so NTA could provide better internet coverage for their students residing in the area.
Once the tower installation at Baktan is complete, NTA will install another tower in the Lomajurok area in Ajeltake to provide better cell coverage. “Construction will begin right after the Batkan tower is completed,” said Kijiner.
NTA is aiming to complete installation of the Batkan tower and the associated equipment building by the end of the month. This depends, in part, on arrival of some equipment that is scheduled to be here next week.
In an unrelated NTA development, NTA’s LTE 4G system has seen exponential growth in use, although this does not show clearly in the number of “subscriptions” or individual modems in use.
The number of subscriptions for the 4G system rose from 1,872 in 2017 when the system first became available to 5,824 by the end of 2021 — a significant increase of over 200 percent.
However, data usage has climbed much more steeply, indicating large numbers of people using the system who are not reflected in the subscriber statistic.
Data usage in gigabytes started at 85,965 for 10 months in 2017, the initial year of 4G service in RMI. Data usage skyrocketed after this initial period of use.
In 2018, it leaped to 491,871 gigabytes of data used. In 2021, data usage increased to 3,340,759 gigabytes — a whopping 38-fold increase from 2017 and an increase that dwarfs the two fold expansion in the number of subscribers from 2017-2021.
Kijiner observed that the reality here is that many people use 4G but do not have their own modem. A household may use one 4G modem, but have many people making use of it, including multiple people using the same modem, chipping in to purchase data.