Internet

Welcome to the UAE!

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That’s how you are welcomed to Dubai! Let’s hope we have 4G by 2015!

3G Speeds

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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!

Tested 3G video calls

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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?

Alfa 3G support

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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?

Internet speeds in Abu Dhabi

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While we are currently happy about 3G, here are the internet speed am getting here in Abu Dhabi!

Hotel speeds:

Work speeds:

3a2belna!

No 3G testing this week

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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.

My first day using Alfa 3G in Lebanon

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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!

Alfa 3G coverage map and other info

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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.

I got an Alfa 3G SIM card!

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Today I attended the SMW Beirut event at the Mar Roukoz campus of USJ. During the event the minister of telecommunication launched the 3G service in Lebanon on a limited bases just for testing. At the end of the conference a draw was made to select 25 students from each mobile operator to test the service and I got lucky and received a SIM card from Alfa!. In total 4000 users will test it, 25% will be students and the others will be randomly selected from the population.

So for the next month I will be testing 3G in Lebanon and updating you guys here and on Twitter (@eliedh).

I have a 3GB data cap on the service and I according to the flyer I should expect speeds up to 21.1 Mbps.

The person distributing the SIM cards at the end of the conference told us that the 3G will start working tomorrow. I already placed the SIM card in an HTC Mozart phone (running windows phone 7). I got a 3G signal and I was able to call it from my other line but the internet did not work. I’ll try it later tonight on an HTC Hero (running android).

During this month I’ll try to test the connection on as many devices as I can and use as many services as I can.

Here’s a list of the devices I plan to test on (I have the devices marked in bold and can get quick access to the others):

  • HTC Hero
  • HTC Mozart
  • Nokia N8
  • Nokia C7
  • iPhone 3GS
  • iPhone 4
  • iPad 3G
  • LG Arena
  • LG GD900 Crystal
  • Sony Ericsson Z610
  • Nokia E72
  • Samsung Ace
  • Samsung Galaxy S
  • Samsung Galaxy S2
  • Samsung Wave

Note that I did not check if all the devices support the technology used by Alfa so I’ll check before testing each one. I’ll also try to use the tethering option on devices that support it. In addition to that I might get a USB dongle to test it on my Macbook pro and on my windows laptop.

The services I use on a daily basis on my mobile are the following: Whatsapp, Foursquare, Twitter, Facebook. During the testing period I’ll try to stream some videos to the mobile phones and perform a speed/ping test on every device/region. If I get the chance I will also try to place a Video call (but during the conference I heard that it does not work yet so I’m not sure about it).

I hope the service works correctly and that we can finally have decent internet in Lebanon, I’ll make sure to inform Alfa about any problem I might encounter since this is a testing period and hopefully 3G will be available to everyone soon.

If you have any suggestions or questions please share them in the comments.

2011, Mubarak, Wikipedia, Google

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We live in a world were we can watch events unfold in another country the moment they happen, we can get updates from people on the ground via twitter, facebook…

We got used to all this! Today I was amazed by the fact that wikipedia was updated and google had already cached the new page less then an hour after Mubarak resigned!

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