Archive | Telecom

So Did Your DSL Speed Improve?

It’s been three days now since the new plans recently announced by Ogero became effective, and with them came the “open speed” packages which allow subscriber to benefit from the maximum speed their phone lines can handle.

All other ISPs have updated their existing plans well, and the most flexible ones are offered by IDM and Cyberia. Others like Sodetel and Wise have less options, but no matter what provider you are subscribed too you can get a decent plan for ~$20.

I ¬†have tested the speed upgrades at a friend in Achrafieh who is now getting ~3.5Mbps instead of the 2Mbps he was originally subcribed too, and at my parents in Kaskas area who are now getting ~6Mbps (The latter spoiled my kid by the way because YouTube videos were loading pretty fast on is iPad! ūüėõ ). On the other hand, people who live relatively far from the exchange offices will be limited to 1 or 2Mbps.

I personally was quite excited when the plans were originally announced in May, but unfortunately shortly after that I started experiencing disconnection with my home connection that lasted several hours everyday, and extremely low speeds whenever I get lucky and my modem connects. So I followed up with IDM (my ISP) and Ogero to troubleshoot the problem for over a couple of months until I was recently informed by Ogero that the problem is due to a defected cable in my area which cannot be replaced anytime soon, and that I have to deal with my current connection until further notice.

This is quite frustrating to be honest since the monthly subscription we pay for our landlines is at minimum supposed to cover the technical failure that might occur on the network, and that should of course include main cables feeding a whole area…!

Anyway, until a miracle restores my connection, I am currently considering switching to a wireless solution such as Connect which recently updated their plans with higher data caps.

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Touch is Into The Money Lending Business Now?

To all those who run out of credit before their line cycle is over, Touch recently added a new service to its prepaid Magic lines called “Advance Credit” allowing their subscribers to get an advance credit amount once their balance falls below $1, and it of course gets paid back once they recharge their line.

It sounds all nice until you know the rate at which the advance amount should be paid… A screenshot on Facebook shows that for a $3 in advance, $4.2 get deducted once the subscriber has enough credit again. That’s a whopping 40% in interest and it sounds more like usury to me…

Even banks are not that rude with their offerings… With such rate this must be Touch’s most profitable service right now! But then again, no matter how awful you think their tactic is, you wouldn’t expect less from a company operating in a monopolized industry.

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Ogero New DSL Prices Finally Approved

Remember the new DSL prices that were proposed by Ogero earlier in May? They were finally approved by the cabinet yesterday with a slight modification and should be effective in a couple of weeks once the decree is published in the Official Gazette.

As I mentioned before, people who will benefit the most are those who live near any of Ogero’s exchange offices since their phone lines can handle better speeds. Others will unfortunately have to wait up to two year until the phone network is upgraded.

As for the minority who is blessed with connectivity using fiber optic cables, the below rates apply.

The above prices are of course only applicable to Ogero subscribers, so we should soon expect other ISPs to announce new competitive packages.

Finally, with respect to mobile data bundles, telecom minister Jarrah also announced that E1 prices will be reduced as well which only makes it logical for 3G and 4G data plan prices to decrease as well, so let’s cross our fingers!

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New OGERO DSL Prices Announced by General Director Imad Kreidieh

Imad Kreidieh, the general director of OGERO, announced on his twitter account last night the new DSL prices that should soon be offered to the public once approved by the cabinet and they are as follows:

  • 2Mbps / Ulimited – 60,000L.L
  • 4Mbps / 40GB – 24,000L.L
  • Open speed / 50GB – 30,000L.L
  • Open speed / 100GB – 45,000L.L
  • Open speed / 150GB – 60,000L.L
  • HDSL / 100GB – 100,000L.L
  • Open speed / 200GB – 75,000L.L

Note that open speed means as much as your phone line can handle. And according to the tests OGERO is currently conducting the speeds are reaching up to 10 and 12Mbps for people that are close to the exchange offices. As for free night quota, Kreidieh claimed it will not be available at this stage.

Needless to say, any price reduction to the DSL service is good to us, and I believe these new prices are quite fair. What I also wish is to have the process of switching from one ISP to another made easier since it takes up to two months right now.

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OGERO #UnleashTheSpeed – Test Results in Achrafieh

Today marked the third day in Ogero’s “Unleash the speed” tests for subscribers in Beirut, and among the exchange offices that were included today is the Achrafieh exchange office, so I passed by one of my friends there in the area to test the “unleashed” bandwidth myself!

I eventually used speedtest.net and picked a server in Lyon that I usually use to test my home connection. I performed numerous tests¬†and was impressed by the download speed which was consistent at ~6.5Mbps (3 times the subscription original speed), however the ping latency varied from 90 milliseconds as shown above up to 300 milliseconds, it’s worth noting though that ping to local servers at Cyberia and Connect was consistently less than 50 milliseconds.

Assuming the subscription fees will remain unchanged or hopefully decrease, the speed upgrades are much welcome but the latency thing should definitely be reduced to provide a better experience for online gamers. Aside from that, the ultimate challenge for Ogero will of course be to cope with the increasing demand on bandwidth once they remove the speed caps for all subscribers. People are currently barely getting the speeds they are subscribed to, so increasing line speeds without having the necessary bandwidth to cater for the users is going to be pretty disappointing.

Anyway, I don’t want to be pessimistic about the upgrade plan, but let’s just keep our fingers crossed until it is all done.

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The New Connect Ads Are Spot On

It’s almost the end of the month, and as per Ogero’s new Director General Imad Kreidieh our internet speeds are supposed to double or triple by tomorrow! However, unless he is a magician, I really don’t see how the speeds are going to increase with the current rotting telephone network… I have mentioned it several times before, as long as copper wires are still used to connect households to central offices I really can’t see the connection quality getting better.

I personally have been feeling very frustrated with my DSL connection for quite some time now due to speed and latency degradation in the evening. In fact, I can rarely enjoy online gaming anytime before 10 or 11PM… which recently got me thinking of switching to some wireless internet provider. Using 3G or 4G would definitely be the optimal solution but the bundles are quite expensive for home usage and lack of free night traffic is a deal breaker.

Aside from their witty ads, I have been hearing some positive feedback about Connect and I’m considering checking if they can allow me to test their connection where I live before committing to one of their plan, and I will definitely subscribe in case their service was stable throughout the day.

Another possible solution could be to talk to your neighborhood’s “hayda taba3 l cable” who basically provides you with internet by installing a wireless atenna/access-point on your building’s roof. Even though no one really knows where they get their capacities from, they surprisingly provide good speed an latency. A guy I know in Dekwaneh for example gets <100ms latency to google.com which is pretty decent in Lebanon. The drawback however is that the service gets totally fucked during winter time…

Anyway, I will let you know how it goes with me!

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PM Hariri Vows to Make Internet in Lebanon 20 Times Faster

 

Speaking at the third edition of the Global Business Summit yesterday, Prime Minister Hariri claimed that one of the priorities he set for his new government is to increase the internet speed in Lebanon by 20-fold.

His promise is a bit vague to be honest and no further explanation was given for us to know what exactly is going to increase 20 times, is it the average internet speed that households are currently gettings (20 x 2Mbps) or is it the overall capacity provided to ISPs in order to enhance our connection quality?

We all know there was a plan by minister Harb in 2015 to overhaul the current¬†infrastructure in order to allow us to benefit from better speeds, but the upgrade was set to be completed in 2020… and knowing that Hariri’s government is supposed to only serve¬†until the next parliament elections in 9 months, I’m not really sure how is he going to fulfill his promise¬†while slow-speed copper wires are still used to connect us to central offices.

Anyway, when it comes to internet, I prefer to remain a bit optimistic because we really need a better connection so bad, not only for personal use but because the infrastructure upgrade will definitely have a positive impact on our economy. And in all cases, no matter what the government plans are, I hope they start by getting rid of Abdel Menhem Youssef first!

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Lebanese Drama Series – Facial Expressions 101

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Lebanese drama series are basically known for the exaggeration in absolutely everything! From make up and hair design to sophisticated emotions and weird reactions that seem like they’re forced on the actors. And now just when you thought no one can get cheesier than Peter Semaan and Youssef El-Khal came Rami Ayach!

Blame it all on whoever convinced him he has what it takes to be an actor! I spotted him on LBC last night and his performance is horrible beyond words. These photos are all taken from a single¬†scene where he was supposedly angry at the girl he loves. What’s the deal with all those weird facial expressions?!

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Yeah… this is basically how he’s conveying anger, this also serves as a reminder for me to keep switching channels every time I bump into some Lebanese series on TV!

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Where Does The Extra $1 Go?

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If you’re subscribed to one of Touch or Alfa prepaid plans then you definitely buy a recharge card every 1 month or so.

You basically have two ways to pay for these cards, either electronically through mobile carrier websites and bank ATMs, or by physically getting them from mobile phone shops, and I personally always have a problem with the latter!

Everywhere in the world you’re expected to pay the price indicated on the recharge card whenever you buy one, except in Lebanon where you always have to add an extra $1 charge! So you basically pay 39,000L.L ($26) for a $25 recharge card for example, and some shops that feel like being competitive sometimes reduce the price to 38,500 or 38,000L.L.

All the sellers I’ve asked about that extra charge claimed it is their profit margin and that the price on the card is actually their cost price. But this¬†isn’t logic honestly since bank ATMs sell the same cards at the published price and there’s now way they’re not making any profit out of it.

I know that an extra $1 per month is not going to make me poor, but seriously, and out of pure curiosity, who the hell takes it??

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