Category Archives: Technology

Lebanon Has The Arab World’s LEAST competitive cellular market for 2013

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alfa and mtc_thumb[1]

This ranking is not surprising at all as two companies (Touch & Alfa) designated by the government are monopolizing the market in Lebanon.

The Cellular Competition Intensity Index results for 2013 revealed that Saudi Arabia tops the score -as the most competitive Arab market- with a 76.58% mark. This is followed by Jordan (75.83%), Palestine (71.55%), Egypt (67.89%), Iraq (66.03%), Oman (64.28%), Morocco (64.20%), Bahrain (64.18%), Tunisia (63.03%), Sudan (59.01%), Mauritania (58.28%), Algeria (57.99%), Yemen (56.38%), Kuwait (54.32%), UAE (48.68%), Qatar (47.67%), Libya (41.58%), Syria (40.74%) and Lebanon (40.71%).

The Cellular Competition Intensity Index is relative in nature as it compares the state of every market relative to other markets. As such, even if a market’s absolute level of competition improved, its score in this relative index will also depend on how other markets developed. The 2013 index results revealed that five countries ranked higher than their 2012 index ranks, these are: Iraq, Bahrain, Sudan, Mauritania and Libya. Moreover, a total of six countries ranked lower compared to the 2012 index, namely: Oman, Morocco, Tunisia, Algeria, Syria and Lebanon. The remaining eight countries of Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Palestine, Egypt, Yemen, Kuwait, UAE and Qatar maintained their 2012 ranks. [Source]

Sehnaoui: Fiber-optics network will cover all of Lebanon by year-end

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Picture from TheBeirutReport

We’ve been waiting for the fiber-optics network to be completed for 3 years now as it was promised by the previous Telecom Ministers. I hope this time things will work out and people will finally be able to enjoy more than 1 lousy Mb connection but if you read Habib’s report on this matter, it doesn’t look like it’s gonna happen anytime soon.

Let’s not forget the ongoing feud between the Telecom Ministry and Ogero.

Lebanon recently dropped 6 spots in the Download Index Report and now ranks 158th out of 182 countries.

Telecom Minister Nicolas Sehnaoui said Thursday that more than half of Lebanon’s telephone substations were linked to a long-awaited fiber-optics network, and vowed to extend coverage to the remaining areas within the next six months. “After two years of work, the fiber optics network is ready in 170 telephone areas, and we sent a letter to [state-run telephone land line operator] OGERO to detail their financial and technical requirements to expand it to the remaining areas, which do not yet have DSL,” he said.

“The project is a part of balanced development … and no Lebanese will be without fast Internet by the end of the year,” Sehnaoui said. [DailyStar]

Nokia’s Lumia 1020 has a 41 megapixel camera

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Nokia released its latest smartphone yesterday, the new Lumia 1020 with an impressive 41 megapixels camera and the possibility of zooming up to 6 times without losing any image quality. The last Nokia model that featured a similar camera was the Pureview 808 model but it was running on Symbian which sucked.

To be honest, I love the Lumia phone for its camera (The Lumia 920 not the 900 camera though), design and hardware but my only problem is with the OS which is not as good as Android or iOS or is not evolving the way I thought it would. Nevertheless, the camera is becoming a crucial factor for any smartphone user so a six-lens 41-megapixel PureView camera paired with a Xenon flash could help Nokia gain few Android and iOS users, specially if the device is priced reasonably and if users can send their pictures to Facebook, Twitter, Instagram etc ..

Personally speaking, I might consider buying the Nokia Lumia 1020 if it’s not too expensive.

PS: I wouldn’t have hesitated one second in buying it if it was running on Android (which will probably never happen).

lumia1020camera

Blocking SMS Spam

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We all hate getting annoying SMS messages and local providers aren’t doing anything to stop them. The ones I hate most, and which I reported on several occasions to Alfa, Touch and the Telecom Ministry, are those I get from 1085 or other four digit spamming numbers. I’ve always wondered if there’s a way to block or filter them, and I tried a couple of Android apps in the past but the one [SMS Spam Blocker - Postman] Abir posted about today is the best I’ve used so far.

Check it out and download it [Here].

BlackBerry Q5

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The new BlackBerry Q5 smartphone will be available in Europe, the Middle East, Africa, Asia and Latin America by mid July but BlackBerry-ME were kind enough to send me a device to try it out yesterday. The first thing I had to do was go to the airport and register it (As per the new Telecom Ministry regulations), so I didn’t have the chance to test it yet.

I currently carry a BlackBerry Curve for work purposes and I’ve been wanting to change it for a newer one but I wasn’t convinced of the BlackBerry Z10 (No Keyboard) and thought the Q10 was a bit too expensive. Having said that, the Q5 comes at a much lower price and looks like a great replacement for the BB Curve (Or even the BB Bold).

I will hopefully post a quick review about it very soon.

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E-Mall Launch – 3D Mapping

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Emall launch by Bank Audi 3D Mapping

That’s a pretty cool 3D mapping show. E-Mall is set to launch in 4 days. It’s good to see more initiatives encouraging e-commerce in Lebanon. I hope merchants will have some cool offers and cheaper prices online.

EMall, a unified e-commerce platform addressing Lebanese merchants, aims at promoting the Lebanese economy and at being a marketplace that unites retailers, SMEs and independent merchants with cardholders in Lebanon and around the world, who will now be able to execute sale and purchase operations online through this interactive site. [Link]

Youssef to Sehnaoui: The ball is in your court now

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Picture taken from @Nicolasehnaoui

Telecom Minister Nicolas Sehnaoui has launched an online campaign few days ago blaming Ogero Chief Abdel Menhem Youssef for the internet slowness lately and asking him to release the bandwidth. Youssef hasn’t been answering any requests or calls lately according to the ministry and causing Lebanon monthly losses estimated at 750,000$.

Here are the alleged Facts and Figures being shared by the Telecom Ministry:

– 1,200 = number of E1 requests taken as a hostage by Abdelmenhem Youssef
– 750,000$ = Monthly losses suffered by Lebanon and caused by Abdelmenhem Youssef’s highjack of the bandwidth
– 25%= Percentage of total Internet Bandwidth being released due to Abdelmenhem Youssef’s refusal to abide
– 2/3 = Number of Council Members needed, by Law, to remove Abdelmenhem Youssef from his position
– 3 = Number of Job Positions occupied unlawfully by Abdelmenhem Youssef #FreeTheBandwidth #FtahElHanafiyye

Having said that, Abdel Menhem Youssef broke his silence yesterday and asked the Telecom Ministry for a permission to answer those “false” allegations and even went as far as asking to investigate these claims and accusations.

I don’t know whether he truly requires the minister’s permission to hold a press conference but he’s apparently playing it smart. If I were Sehnaoui, I would invite Youssef instead to a round table to discuss all these matters, put the differences behind and figure a way out.

That’s the only way that we will get somewhere.

Kalam Ennas Report on the New Mobile Regulations

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Few questions that need to be addressed to the Telecom Ministry after seeing this report:

1- How are expats and tourists being informed about these new measures? Is there enough marketing being done in the airport and online? Because the guy interviewed at first in the LBCI report obviously had no clue about these regulations.

2- The Telecom person interviewed is saying: “The problem is not with the line but with the device, because the line is not connected to any phone. In fact, you can use your line with a billion devices but the device will be linked to this line so if you want ur line to be used on another new and registered device you can use it, but if it’s a used phone than the device needs to be disconnected from the line.”

Something doesn’t sound right here. How can you use your line in the newly bought device if you don’t disconnect the old device from it? Can we use our line on two different devices?

3- If someone steals your phone, he can unlock the device by sending an SMS to 1014. If this is true, doesn’t that contradict with what Rita Khairallah from the Telecom Ministry just said in the report?

4- Why is it taking so much time in Touch and Alfa to register the devices or explain to the customers what to do? Everyone seems upset in the LBCI report.

5- One last question: I still want to know what is the point from these regulations because as mentioned earlier, I haven’t seen one person praising them or saying they are for our own good.

#FreeTheBandwith Fta7 Ya Men3em!

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Picture taken from @Nicolasehnaoui

Telecom Minister Sehnaoui posted this picture today on his instagram account blaming Ogero Telecom chief Abdel-Moneim Youssef on the slowness and asking him to free the bandwidth.

Even though I agree with Minister Sehnaoui that Youssef’s behavior is unacceptable, I refuse to solely put the blame on one side as there are two fundamental issues that are at the origin of this problem:

1- Ogero’s existence is a problem in itself.
2- The constant bickering and lack of dialogue between opposing political opponents in Lebanon is leading to deadlocks, leaving us Lebanese to suffer.

I cannot believe that no one is able to reach Ogero’s chief or set a meeting to sit and talk with him. If that’s the case, then legal action should be taken against him or he should be forced to resign or the concerned people should head to Ogero and ask to meet Youssef, or organize a protest etc …

This matter has been dragging for months just because no one’s been able to meet or talk to Youssef? Let’s storm Ogero and free the bandwidth then. Will that solve our internet problems? Definitely not.

I’ve already tried to assess the internet situation in Lebanon in a previous post, which I believe still applies now. You can read it [Here].

And here’s my take in the article on Ogero:

Having a state-owned (privately-managed) entity controlling the Telecom sector is a recipe for disaster and the past years are a clear proof of that. Regardless of political affiliations, it is illogical to let one company control everything and then expect other privately owned ISPs to compete with it. I am not saying Ogero is bad but this monopoly is an obstacle to a healthy competition and should be halted either through privatization or other means. Last but not least, I think more efforts should have been put by both sides to settle the differences as we’ve wasted precious years and are now way behind technologically.

Speaking of problems, I urge Minister Sehnaoui to reconsider the new mobile regulations since I haven’t heard one single positive feedback on this matter from the Lebanese Online Community.