Thursday, November 8, 2012

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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?

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