Tag Archives | subscription

Slashing internet prices in Lebanon is still not enough

Following the announcement of the ministry of telecommunications on their plan to lower internet prices and boost speeds last month, we all thought it would now be affordable for us to get the high speed connections we always wanted, and this was proven true after some ISPs started rolling out their plans with 4Mbps subscriptions for as low as $19.

However, it doesn’t seem like this sufficient for us to enjoy the newly offered packages. According to this excellent article by Matt Nash from Executive Magazine, the real problem now lies in the copper wires connecting our homes to the central offices. Apparently, these wires can handle transferring a maximum of 8Mbps given that you live near the central office in your area, and the speed of course decreases as the distance to your home increases.

This is in fact so bad that basically around 1/3 of internet users in Lebanon cannot get more than 2Mbps to their homes since they simply live too far away from a central office!

So I believe the biggest challenge facing the ministry right now is upgrading the existing infrastructure which can cost up to $1 billion if we decided to go for optical fiber. And until then, the maximum speed we are able to get will remain much less than what average users enjoy in other countries of our region.

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ISPs started rolling out their new DSL plans

idm dsl plans

I’ve been waiting for the new DSL plans to come out ever since the ministry of telecommunications announced the price reductions last month, and I finally got an e-mail from IDM this morning informing me that my subscription has been upgraded from 1Mbps / 10GB to 2 Mbps / 50GB for the same price ($27.5).

This was indeed some great news since my speed has doubled and my quota has increased five times, however, I found it odd that users were not given the liberty to choose among the offered plans but will instead have to wait till the 1st of July to place their change requests. For example, I could have chosen to settle for the same quota I had before for $12 only, but IDM and other providers definitely look to keep their revenues the same so they are subscribing us to the plan that matches whatever we’ve been usually paying.

A friend of mine is also subscribed to IDM’s 4Mbps / 25GB plan at $77 and was upgraded to the unlimited 4Mbps plan at $82, whereas he could have simply chosen to settle for the same quota he previously had at $27.5 and spared a whole $55 a month!

So make sure not to proceed blindly with whatever your ISP gives you next months, but rather take a look at all their offered plans to choose what suits your needs, and chances are you’ll definitely end up saving some good money.

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Everybody can hack into your Blink wireless router!

It’s not a secret anymore that the routers you get from Ogero once you subscribe to their Blink DSL service can easily be hacked since their WiFi password is very easy to retrieve.

First of all, Blink routers are by default secured using WEP encryption which is very weak and can be cracked using wireless penetration tools. Second, they can easily be identified since they all have an SSID (network name) following this pattern “BlinkXXXXXX” where XXXXXX is a 6 character code, and this isn’t just any random code as it is derived from the router’s serial number. Unfortunately, the same applies to the WiFi password, it isn’t generated randomly but rather derived from the router’s serial number as well.

Logically speaking, if you encounter a Blink network and were able to reverse the operation in a way that lets you guess the router’s serial number from the 6 character code in the SSID, retrieving the password would then be a piece of cake since it can be derived from this serial. That’s basically what some people have been doing for a while now since several tools are already available online allowing you enter the 6 character code once you stumble across a Blink network, and gives you the password in a few seconds.

Up until lately, I was thinking the usage of these tools was somehow minimal and limited to techies since you will rarely find them on Lebanese website, until I lately came across this new Android application called “Hack Blink” with a download count of over 10,000 and rapidly increasing.

hack blink

Using the application is very straight forward, you enter the code and wait for the password, I tried it and it does work. So if you have a blink subscription, be sure someone around you will soon or later have this application and eventually start consuming your bandwidth.

Fortunately, there is a way to stop people from doing that by reconfiguring your router using this manual I found on Ogero’s website (which applies to Thomson routers). I strongly recommend you use that manual to change your SSID and setting the encryption algorithm to WPA2, in addition to of course changing the default wireless password. If you encounter any difficulty, make sure to either contact their customer support or just head to the nearest Ogero office in order for some support person to help you do it.

Best solution is definitely for Ogero to stop ordering their routers to be configured this way!

Thanks to @ZuZ for the information he previously provided in this post.

Update:

@AbirGhattas just informed me “Hack Blink” was removed from the Play Store. I still recommend you change your router’s default settings.

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Alfa Midline

More info about Alfa Midline here, it’s not clear though whether 3G can be activated on it or not.

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Free internet quota at night for everyone?

Minister Nicolas Sehnaoui announced on twitter yesterday that unlimited internet quota from 12AM to 7AM has been approved by the government and will be activated as soon as the decision is published in the official gazette.

Some ISPs already have the unlimited night traffic offered to some of there users depending to which telephone exchange office they’re connected. My parents subscription with IDM in Beirut for example gets double the speed and unlimited traffic at night, while my IDM subscription in Aramoun doesn’t because they claim it didn’t pass some “feasibility test” that was performed.

Anyway, I hope it doesn’t take too much time before we get that feature activated for everyone!

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Here’s to launching the 3G service in Lebanon!

Last day I got a phone call from a gentleman in MTC Touch telling me that I will be granted the 3G service for a 1 month free trial period, and so right now I’m among the lucky people who got to participate in the pilot testing of this service in Lebanon. An yes I’m so excited about it!!

The service got activated at around 1PM today on my phone and didn’t require any special configuration to run. I randomly started loading websites and found the connection to be pretty fast compared to home ADSL and the crappy GPRS. Below are two tests done using speedtest.net after I shared the connection with my laptop.

As you can see, download is @ 1.7Mbps which is superb compared to the current internet speeds, while upload is varying between 0.11 and 0.22Mbps. Ping is of course higher that it is supposed to be, and I hope it’ll improve soon. Note that I was in Beirut central district at the time of this test, and I guess speed might vary depending on your location.

3G subscriptions will be available for both postpaid and prepaid lines, and data transfer will be limited to 4GB/month. It isn’t clear tough how much will the operators charge for it.

I’ll hopefully be posting more updates on the connection quality and speed throughout this trial period.

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