I finally managed to get my HTC Hero to share the 3G connection with my MacBook Pro! In order to do that I used an app called PDANet that had to be installed on the phone and on my Mac, I would have preferred to do it with no additional apps but I needed to root my phone to do that.
Here’s the speed test of the connection:
I am currently using the connection to update my Mac and iPad and so far everything is going fine it should take 2 hours to download the 1GB update and for Lebanon that’s not bad!
Once all my devices are updated I’ll probably review iOS 5 and the new iCloud services.
That’s how you are welcomed to Dubai! Let’s hope we have 4G by 2015!
The first thing I did when I got my 3G line is enter the speedtest.net application and test the speed of the connection. After those initial test whenever I accessed the app on 3G or even edge it showed me a “Network communication issues” error.
Testing WiFi speeds still worked properly but I couldn’t test 3G speeds in any region. I think alfa might be blocking the testing but I am not sure about it. The good news is that yesterday I finally managed to bypass the block by:
- Connecting and finding a server to test on while on WiFi
- Getting far enough from the router so that the mobile looses the WiFi signal (exiting the app to turn off WiFi kept resetting it)
- Testing the connection on 3G.
The speeds I got from those test were pretty descent, I got speeds between 2 and 3 MB but with high latencies (>200ms).
So for now the 3G speeds are good, let’s just hope they manage to maintain a fast service when it is finally properly launched!
Last Friday I got to test video calling with a friend in downtown Beirut. The 2 phones performing the calls were a Nokia C7 and a Nokia E72 both with alfa lines. I was happy to find that the call was successful and we were able to see each others and talk normally. The quality is similar to a crappy webcam picture but there was no lags or interruption so it wasn’t bad. I’ll try to perform a call to an MTC line soon but I’m not sure it would work. Did anyone else try video calls? Did you have a similar or a different experience?
On the first day of 3G testing I sent an email to Alfa asking them for the 3G settings for my Windows Phone 7 device. The 3G had started working on my android phone but couldn’t connect on the other one. An hour or 2 later I got a phone call from Alfa, the person at the end of the line first asked me if I had tried calling 118 (that’s the 3G support number). I told him I did not, he asked me why, he asked if I had a prior bad experience with them or if I had tried to call them and they had not answered. I told him I had no problem with 118 but I figured that sending an email would be faster and easier for me. The support guy then guided me setting up the phone settings. After correctly entering the data, everything worked perfectly. After that he asked me to call 118 while I was on the phone with him (using my normal line) and see if they answer me. I called them and they did, he thanked me and asked me to get back to him if I have any other issue/remark. Note that while talking to him I told him about the speeds I was currently getting and about the quality of the connection at my location; the call was also followed by another 2 calls about Alfa asking me if my problem was fixed.
At noon the service suddenly stopped working, I tried to call them around 13:00 but got no reply on the first try, on the second one and after a minute of waiting an operator answered the phone and asked me for my 3G mobile number. I did not have the number memorized so I told him to hold for a sec but when I got back to him (after around 40 seconds I think) the line was already disconnected so I then decided to wait and ignore the disconnection since I was busy anyways.
The second day I got a phone call from Alfa in the morning, the person on the other end of the line asked me if everything was OK today since I had complained on the previous day about a non stable service. I told him that I had not complain (I wrote on the blog that speeds varied a lot so I don’t know if they read that) but that speeds were better today but that I did not test it extensively yet. He asked me to test it a little and told me that he would try to call me back in 5 minutes. To test the connection I tried to open 2 YouTube videos, one loaded quickly on the first try and the second loaded quickly but took a little time to start. When he called back I told him everything was going OK. Two hours later I got another call from Alfa, the person also asked me if my complaints from the day before were solved, I told them everything was OK.
So as you can see the customer support for 3G is currently good but lacks organization, I hope they improve that side of it before the full launch. How good/bad was your experience using 3G?
I will not be able to keep testing the 3G connection this week since I am in Abu Dhabi on a business trip. The line is currently with my brother so I’ll give you his feedback when I am back. I still have a couple of posts to write about my experience when using 3G so I’ll try to post them when I have time.
Today I started using the 3G service I got from Alfa, I won’t make a judgement on it yet since I was very busy and I barely managed to use it but the speeds were a little slow when I did test them. I did not use it for browsing yet and the only app I used was whatsapp so I didn’t see any improvement in this area.
I contacted customer support via mail today and they called me back, they were very helpful and I’ll make a post about that on another day.
Here’s a small list of results I got from the speedtests (using speedtest.net app for android)
- Sin El Fil, 08h26, Down 119 kbps, Up 336 kbps, ping 131 ms
- Sin El Fil, 09h15, Down 41kbps, Up 370 kbps, ping 211 ms
- Sin El Fil, 09h15, Down 609kbps, Up 382 kbps, ping 211 ms
- Naccache, 20h24, Down 311 kbps, Up 166 kbps, ping 329 ms
Reception in Sin El Fil is a little bad indoor (1-2 over 5) and good outside (3-5 over 5) but I managed to make good quality phone calls indoors and outdoors. In Naccache it’s good with a full reception outdoors and an indoor reception similar to the one I got outdoors in Sin El Fil.
I am currently using the connection to download app updates on my phone and they are downloading faster then usual so that’s a good sign! I got to go watch the latest episodes of How I met your mother and 2 and a half man now but I promise you I’ll keep updating you about the connection as I test it!
Here’s a scan of the flyer I got with my Alfa 3G line. In the second page you can see the different regions in Lebanon that will be covered by 3G in the testing phase.