Saturday, November 17, 2012

Finally Some Tangible Data on Telecom Sector Progress!

Could this be my first positive post ever on this blog? Probably! I’m not pessimistic, I’m just realistic; and the way things were going on lately in this country dictated an air of negativity that was caught by most of us.

Minister Nicolas Sehnaoui Annual Progress

Today, 4G testing has taken place in Beirut. Headed by Minister Nicolas Sehnaoui, the obtained results were really amazing. Average download speeds were hitting the upper 100Mbps limit (see picture below). These results are really wonderful and very promising. Additionally, a yearly report (English VersionArabic VersionFrench Version) tackling the progress the Ministry of Telecommunication (MoT), from June 2011 till June 2012, shows very positive figures. I really enjoyed the professional yet friendly look of the report. Being prepared in the form of an infographic is very relevant.

4G Lebanon Connection Test

Reading through the numbers, one can really notice the huge leap Lebanon has taken in terms of Internet speeds and Mobile Networking. Below are a few statistics showing the improvement in various Telecom sectors:


Mobile Network:

- 15% increase in Mobile Subscribers

- Additional 20% of Mobile network signal antennas have been installed

- 11% decrease in both prepaid and postpaid mobile plan costs per subscriber

- 45% Increase in number of available lines

- 73% Increase in number of available Products and Services for Mobile Users

- New service bundles for young people


Internet Service:

- 30% Increase in DSL subscriptions

- 20% Increase in Broadband Subscriptions

- The number of DSL equipped centrals have doubled

- 231% Increase in International Capacity Availability

- 15 times faster average DSL speed

- Free Internet at night


My readers may have noticed a contradiction between two posts. A couple of weeks ago, I posted an article on problems a lot of people have been facing in Lebanon concerning the mobile network. However, this does not contradict the fact that a lot of advancement have been experienced in the Telecom field. In fact, at the moment it seems the problems I had mentioned earlier are no longer as serious as they used to be. And one should be honest and say that the mobile network services have exponentially improved over the past year.

alfa and mtc Touch

Also from my personal experience with DSL, I can vouch that my 4Mbps internet connection is delivering amazingly. Even though I had to go through a lot of trouble to get it to work (for some reason when I called 1515 they told me there was a problem with my central, but when the maintenance guy came over her told me that there’s nothing wrong with the central, but that something must be done by Ogero that hasn’t been done, And in a few minutes he got it to work. Now I have a fully working 4Mbps internet connect! Sweet!)

All in all, it is fair to say that regardless of what your political views are—whether you support Minister Sehnaoui’s political affiliation or not—you cannot deny the fact that for the first time, real tangible work  has been done, and results have been felt! I hope this will be a lesson for future projects. We have had enough of listening to empty speeches; and it’s not our fault that we need hard proof now to believe, political corruption have made it so!

Saturday, November 17, 2012 by Eli ·


Friday, November 9, 2012

Shameful: Fortune Telling On Lebanese Public Radio

On my way back from work, I switched on the radio and tuned in to Radio Orient, and what I heard blew me away, and I drove the whole way back in disbelief. Below is a recording of what was being broadcasted on public radio!



chammas Carmen Chammas (@CarmenChammas), an astrologer/fortune-teller, answers calls from gullible people who call to ask her to read their fortune or that of someone they know. Carmen asks for their birthday and the time their were born at, and from what it sounds, she enters the info into a computer, and she starts telling those poor ignorant folks about their present and future. Using astrological nonsense, she answers their questions, and she advises them on what to do in their lives.

I honestly can’t believe stuff like that is allowed to be broadcasted on public radio. What does that say about our society and culture? Is this the level of intellect we are portraying as Lebanese?


I couldn’t believe what I was hearing! I never imagined people could be so stupid. As for the fortune teller, well I never blame the charlatan, because they themselves know they are fooling the people, and they are taking advantage of their gullibility! In my opinion, they are frauds who should be locked up!

Just listen to this lady who is asking Carmen about her Son who works in Algeria. She wanted to know about his work and his love life. Listen to what she says about the girl he is in love with. How is this going to effect them? I don’t know if you’ll realize how dangerous this stuff is. People’s lives could be seriously affected by the idiotic prophecies made by a fucking irresponsible woman!

All I can say is shame on you Radio Orient!

Friday, November 9, 2012 by Eli ·


Thursday, November 8, 2012

All I Want Is To Make a Simple Phone Call!

alfa and mtc


Let’s be honest, our mobile networks suck big time. For the past couple of month, trying to reach any party over a mobile phone took several attempts before you could get your call connected. There seems to be a certain ritual before you are able to talk to another person. The first couple attempts end up giving you connection error signaled by 3 beeps; then, if you’re lucky and a connection is made, you get the annoying tune which indicates that the person you’re trying to reach is out of service. If you haven’t given up by then, or you have completely forgotten why you were calling in the first place, you might give it one more shot, and if you’re really lucky this time you’ll reach him or her on your 10th attempt. However, a minute into the call (I’m being generous here) the call drops!

During the past month, my friends and family would call me and tell me that they’ve been trying to reach me for an hour, but they couldn’t because my line was unavailable. I wanted to test whether there was something wrong with my phone. I tried calling it a while keeping an eye on the service bar indicator—which showed full coverage, but ironically I would get that same annoying tone. Similarly, and using other phones to test the same issue, it turned out that around 4 out of 5 times, you would get a no coverage message. So I realized that there must be something wrong with the carrier and not the phone. I discovered later on that I wasn’t the only one experiencing these irritating issues; everyone was talking about how bad the mobile service has become.


Sehnaoui twitter profile


Meanwhile, on twitter, @NicolaSehnaoui, the Lebanese minister of Telecom—and the “#1 politician on twitter” according to his profile—keeps on tweeting about the installation of several new coverage stations throughout Lebanon, which are supposed to improve the network. Following his tweets you would feel proud of your country and the efforts the minister is putting into the Telecom sector. And to be honest, at first I was impressed by the hard work portrayed by Mr. Sehnaoui—whom I sincerely encourage and applaud for his attempt at publicizing his actions on twitter and other social media websites; but then I wondered what’s the use of all this if in reality the mobile network is becoming worse than what it had been prior to the new “improvements”. With all due respect Mr. the minister, but many of us just don’t get how adding new coverage antennas worsens the network?


This issue is no longer as bad as it had been a week ago—at least not for me. Now only 2 out of 3 attempts to call someone fail. But try calling 111 (the helpdesk) if you dare? Believe me, you have a better chance at reaching the Dalai Lama than getting connected to those guys. Every single time I try calling 111, I get a message telling me that due to the large number of calls I should try again later; but it seems our understanding of the concept “later” is totally different.


Network Antenna Lebanon


I know we’ve come a long way compared to where our Telecom industry was a couple of years ago, but we’re still way behind compared to the other countries.


Like so many of you, I’ve had lots of issue with my carrier. I have written a post once concerning the period when the so-called “revolutionary 3G” data connection was being implemented. Back then you could hardly browse a webpage. Slowly and painfully, though, the 3G network “improved” over time. However, the coverage remains sporadic; and the constant switching back and forth between 3G to 2G—which drains the battery and interrupts the internet connection—is still a major failing point for our Telecom oligopoly.


Ironically, minister Sehnaoui is hinting at some sort of 4G testing, which will be implemented in Lebanon soon. But for all the reasons above, I’m really sorry Mr. Sehnaoui but that doesn’t excite me a bit. My question to you Mr. the minister is shouldn’t the coverage be fixed first, and the prices—of the already existing 3G plans—be lowered before ”updating” to 4G? Isn’t a stable 3G connection over a working calling service a much preferred option than having 4G which doesn’t really work?

Thursday, November 8, 2012 by Eli ·


Saturday, November 3, 2012

Tripoli Expects The Worst: The Calm Before The Storm

I learned some very worrying news today about the current situation in Tripoli. Violent clashes, between the two regions of Bab-al-Tabani and Jabal Mohsen, have been going on for the past few months, but an eerie calm reigns over this ill-fated city at this time.


Many people, who work in that city, including myself, have been profiting from this piece. The pausing of the fighting has rekindled the busy city-life of Tripoli. However, most of us didn’t know that this was the calm before the storm.

As I’m writing this post, preparations for another “round” of violent attacks are taking place on both fronts. Defence lines are being built out of stacked-up sandbags and used tires; arms and ammunition are being resupplied in large quantities; and in Jabal Mohsen women and children are being evacuated.


How much truth underlines these claims, and how much of it is hearsay, I can’t really say, but I can confirm that the sandbag defence stations are real; I have seen civilians stacking them up, with my own eyes.

You don’t need to be a Michel Hayek to foresee what will ensue next. But you might question how such obvious preparations could happen under the noses of the Lebanese Armed Forces—who are supposed to be maintaining a line of peace by deploying heavily armed troops between the two regions. But the sad truth is that the LAF have simply retreated from the fighting zone under no publicly stated pretence.

The reason for this decision, as the locals have learned, is due to the lack of political cover for this mission. In other words, not a single politician, from our worthless lot, is willing to be associated with any decision taken regarding this situation. Therefore, the only solution was to fully retreat to the nearby city of El-Mina.


Today, the LAF simply lurks in the neighboring region, sending small units in sporadic patrols around the hot-zones.

How long before burning bullets and exploding grenades reignite the skies of Tripoli, no one knows, but we can all be sure that they will sometime soon.

Saturday, November 3, 2012 by Eli ·


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