Speedtest on a 4MB DSL Ogero connection in Beirut
The Lebanese government has been busy investigating illegal internet companies for the past couple of weeks. We are talking about large communication devices and towers installed in several areas across Lebanon and a 40GB per second bandwith bought from Turkey and Cyprus and equivalent to 1/3 of the bandwith set by the Telecom ministry. The worst part is that a lot of sensitive official departments were using these free internet services and therefore compromising our security.
One of the areas where illegal internet equipment was found is al-Zaarour resort, which is owned by Murr. However those in charge of the resort and MTV (also owned by Murr) have been attacking Ogero, LBCI and Al Jadeed for the past week over these claims and stating that there’s nothing illegal there, and they may be right based on what I’ve heard and read.
Needless to say, we are all against illegal internet networks but there are bigger questions that need to be asked at the moment: Who doesn’t want a better internet in Lebanon? Where do we stand from the 2020 plan? Who’s responsible for the delay?
I keep hearing people blaming Ogero and Abdel Menhem Youssef on the internet slowness and they are right to do so but Ogero is not the only one to blame. Blaming Ogero for the internet slowness is like blaming Sukleen for not recycling enough. The real problem is that the parties that are behind Sukleen don’t believe in recycling in the first place and don’t see the point from doing so, and similarly those covering for Ogero and most of the people that covered for Youssef over the past decade (or even stood against him) don’t understand that a cheaper and faster internet is better for everyone and will bring them more money (since that’s all they care about).
Deploying fiber optics in a fancy street in Solidere or equipping Beirut Digital District offices with the fastest internet is not what we’re after. Internet should be free, abundant and fast for Lebanon to become a tech hub and we should put more focus on schools, universities, households and more importantly areas outside Beirut. The only fast and reliable connections nowadays are the 3G and 4G mobile data plans (4G+ coming soon) but they are relatively expensive and the quotas are ridiculous.
What can we do?
Assuming that most of the Lebanese people agree that we need a faster and more abundant internet, we should keep asking for a better internet through social media channels and other online methods. The internet problem is as important as the garbage problem, whether you like to admit it or not, because technology has a huge impact on every country’s development and falling behind will cost us dearly in the future. We must question Ogero, the Telecom Minister and the government and push them to improve the internet at all cost. Even if our demands will probably fall on deaf ears, we should keep this topic alive at all time.
As far as the TVs and media are concerned, most of them, except for Executive-Magazine, don’t seem to understand the importance of having a better internet yet unfortunately and this is reflected in most of the news reports and talk shows that tackle the internet situation in Lebanon. Yesterday, MTV had a special episode with Walid Abboud on the illegal networks and the internet as a whole and it was extremely disappointing. Walid’s guests talked about everything except the imminent need of a proper internet connection for the sake of our country and the future generations. They turned the topic into a religious (and sectarian) one and one of the guests wouldn’t stop talking (more like yelling) about Christian rights and Christian representation and it made no sense.
What we need are responsible and knowledgeable hosts that are willing (and able) to tackle this internet problem and send out the right message to politicians and concerned parties. The last thing we want to see on these shows are corrupt parties and individuals accusing other corrupt parties of corruption and theft, or hosts praising ministers and MPs for a small and pointless achievement while the country is in ruins.
All in all, we will have over 3 million internet users in Lebanon by 2017, Lebanon has the 4th highest internet penetration in the region and we still cannot get a proper 2MB DSL connection outside Beirut, and sometimes even in Beirut. This is embarrassing and unacceptable especially when the solution is out there and only needs a political decision.