4G LTE in Lebanon: The Technical Aspect

Plus961 has written about Lebanon starting initial testing for LTE in about two weeks. The article that Rami quoted, which was published in Annahar (click here), sets a timeframe for initial pilot testing starting November 16th while commercial rollout will start in select areas across the country on April 23rd.

The area that will first be covered is Beirut city, from Geitawi onwards. LTE theoretical speeds according to Alfa testing have reached 100Mbps. Actual speeds will be quite less, however, around 40-50 Mbps in best case scenarios. The average speeds that my American friends on Verizon get are approximately 30Mbps.

A source in Alfa has told me that the frequency bands Lebanon will be rolling out will be band 3 (1800 MHz), initially, with other frequencies added later on, which makes the Lebanese LTE network compatible with most international 4G handsets, apart from the ones that are made proper for AT&T, Canada’s Bell, Rogers and Telus and a few Mexican carriers who have opted to use the frequencies that are employed by the aforementioned carriers: band 4 (AWS) and 17 (700b MHz). I assume it’ll be the same for MTC.

This means that prospective iPhone 5 buyers need to buy their phones from European countries or Australia. The American Verizon iPhone works as well.

The plans, however, haven’t been set yet although I don’t expect them to be up to par with the potential demand. LTE is very fast internet and any plan that doesn’t go into several GBs in quota is doomed to be quite useless. Theoretically, you can burn through the 500MB plan (the most popular one among 3G subscriptions) in less than a minute.

On the other hand, and even though LTE is needed to move the country forward in the ever growing digital age, should we be moving towards it when there are a lot of areas in the country without proper basic coverage, let alone 3G? For instance, my hometown in the Batroun caza barely gets any reception. 3G is unheard of over there.

Moreover, moving towards LTE will also get our ADSL speeds to considerably lag behind with the optimal state households get being 1Mbps.

But either way, since many believe I criticize too much, I’ll leave at that and hope LTE rolling out in Lebanon turns out better than the way 3G was unveiled.

Remove Your Phone Number from True Caller App

Most of us have the “True Caller” app on our phones to let us know who’s behind those contact-less numbers we keep getting.

But I, for one, don’t like the app and I think it’s too intrusive. It uses your entire contact list and uploads the numbers, along with the contacts you have, to their servers for others to use for reference.

Paranoid people, of course, eat up True Caller. They absolutely have to know who’s that mystery person who keeps calling. If you’re not one of those people and don’t want your phone number to be searchable on that database, there is a solution for you.

In order to unlist yourself from the True Caller database, click on this link. It will make your phone number unsearchable.

The number has to be of the format +country code-phone number, i.e. a Lebanese number would be of the following form: +9613xxxxxx.

The unlisting is offered by the True Caller app itself and if enough people use it, it would eventually defeat the purpose of the app, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Though I don’t think many people will jump on this.

Anyway, I’ve unlisted myself. It’s your turn now.

Thank you Roudy for the link.

iPhone 5 Nano Sim Now Available in Lebanon

 

Remember when we were all worried about the iPhone 5 being the first phone ever to use nano-sim cards and wondering how that will play out for us Lebanese mobile users?

Well, it seems the wait to get nano-sim cards into the country hasn’t been long. Alfa has announced yesterday on their Facebook page that nano-sim cards are now available in the country.

I was sort of hoping for a longer wait actually. Why?

Because the phone is being priced at around $1300 for the 16GB one currently (ser2a 3al mafdou7) and I figured the more we wait for nano sims, the more the price drops. Either way, there’s already a way to cut down microsims into nano sims. But doing that comes with the premium that is the iPhone 5 theft price in Lebanon by all of the country’s cellular shops.

No idea about MTC though. So if any of you know anything regarding nano-sim availability on Lebanon’s other carrier, let me know.

Update: MTC has unveiled its nano sim cards a few minutes ago. So both of Lebanon’s mobile carriers now offer nano sims to their customers. 

iPhone 5 in Lebanon: The LTE “Issue”

Many people have been asking which countries they can purchase an iPhone 5 from and have it function normally in Lebanon.

The confusion is because the iPhone 5 will support different frequencies of LTE depending on the country you get it from. For a full list of those frequencies, click here.

What many Lebanese users are forgetting is the following.

  1. We are not getting LTE in Lebanon anytime soon. I have it from trusted sources within Alfa and MTC that it will be a few years before LTE goes out of trial phase in Lebanon, which obviously makes sense. I mean it hasn’t been a year even since 3G was rolled out.
  2. By the time LTE becomes available in Lebanon, Apple would have released iPhone 10 and odds are you would have given up on your iPhone 5 by then and upgraded.
  3. The iPhone 5 keeps the same frequencies the 4S and the 4 used to connect to 3G and older cellular generations and as we all know, older generation iPhones work well  – or as well as a smartphone can work – in Lebanon.

What does it all mean?

It means that you can buy an unlocked iPhone 5 from the US, France, Italy, Australia – any country basically – and have it work in Lebanon. Your only problem remaining is to find a nano sim. Good luck with that.

iPhone 5 in Lebanon: The Nano Sim Problem

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With Apple unveiling their new iPhone 5, a problem has surfaced for Lebanese users who want to purchase the phone and it is the SIM card that the phone uses.
Ditching the micro sim that was made popular by the iPhone 4, the iPhone 5 uses a new generation of SIM cards called nano sims.
The standard was only approved a few months ago so it’s still not available in many countries and the iPhone 5 will be the first phone to use this standard.

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Unlike micro sims, you can’t cut a bigger sim into a nano sim which is how most early iPhone 4 adopters managed before the microsim became available in early fall of 2010, almost 3 months after the initial release of the iPhone 4.

Alfa has issued a statement that it will be getting nano sims soon. But that’s soon in Lebanese standards which might mean a few months. So for those who rushed to pre-order their iPhones already and expect to have them in Lebanon in the coming weeks, you’ll be stuck with your older phones until an “unconfirmed” date.

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But hey, at least you’ll have that gorgeous device to keep you busy until then. Right?