3G in Lebanon To Be Delayed and Not Launch in October?

4000 lucky people are already using the service – of which I am one – but for the rest of Lebanon, the tantalizing dream of faster internet will possibly just stay a dream.

Personally, I found the area of coverage in the test pilot to be sort of absurd. Why is it that only Mount Lebanon and Beirut are the covered areas? Shouldn’t at least Lebanon’s major cities (Batroun, Amioun, Tripoli, Saida, etc…) be covered as well to get a broader picture of how the service acts in those locations?

However, while using it in Beirut, I’ve found the service to be seamless. I burned through 30 MB of data within minutes and without knowing. And no, I wasn’t streaming on YouTube. The only drawback was something I had also experienced while backpacking across Spain and France: battery life is murdered.

I was getting speeds of about 2 Mbps, which is very comparable – and even better – to the speeds I was using on Spain’s Orange and France’s SFR. Coverage, however, even in Beirut, was still quite spotty and I found my iPhone switching back and forth between edge and 3G frequently.

But basically everyone was waiting for October to roll around so we can put the smart in our smartphones and actually have data plans that would hopefully bring the country and us forward. But it looks like it won’t happen.

Just today, Lebanon’s Shawra council, responsible to uphold whatever little law is applied in this country, has ordered the rolling of 3G services to stop. The degree itself says the delay should happen for a month. But we all know how things in happen tend to be delayed. Why? They cited “illegal” actions taken place by the Ministry of Telecommunication at the hand of both former minister Charbel Nahhas and current one Nicolas Sahnaoui.”

Change and reform, indeed.

Lebanon To Get LTE Along With 3G?

We all know that we have the worst internet in the world in Lebanon. Our politicians are mostly always full of promises and little action when it comes to almost every regard of our lives so treat this as yet another one of those “talks” that get you excited, but hopefully this time something will actually happen.

So 3G is coming to Lebanon come September, apparently. We will finally have decent internet to use, albeit it will only be on our mobile phones. But it’s a start. Many people, however, were critical of the imminent implementation of 3G saying that the world is already moving to 4G or LTE technologies, which offer much higher speeds. Lebanon implementing third-generation technologies while the rest of the world is moving on to fourth (or even fifth) generation stuff isn’t really stepping up your game in a competitive market.

However, it looks like Lebanon will be receiving LTE upgrades in some areas, while 3G is more spread out over the country as a whole – which is very, very good news. After all, even more advanced countries such as the US have not implemented LTE in all of the country, only in major cities so far. So what do you expect from a country with much more limited resources?

According to this article, MTC Touch (one of the two mobile operators in the country) has built over 850 3.5G stations in Lebanon, of which 200 will offer 3.9G services (giving you double the speed that 3.5G can offer, about 40 Mb/s) and 50 of which will be LTE stations, allowing download speeds of around 173 Mb/s.

And if this wasn’t good enough, the prices that are being thought of (and I’m sure this will apply to Alfa as well since this is a monopoly) are not bad at all. In fact, they look to be very promising. Prices could start from a mere $10 (and go to over $100 depending on the download speed of choice) allowing data quotas of about 2GB for smartphones (both upload and download) and over 15GB or even 20GB for laptops.

Alfa will issue a formal statement about the 3G services it will offer on Thursday, May 12.

Apple Is Recording Your Every Move

Do you have an iPhone or a 3G iPad? Well, if you do, that is the case.

It looks like ever since iOS4 was released, both devices have been keeping a record of your location within a hidden file on the device.

It’s not sure, however, what the point of this mass data collection is but it looks to be intentional as the location databases are backed up and are automatically transferred with phone migration.

The file where this information is stored is unencrypted and unprotected so it can easily be accessed if your phone falls into the wrong hands and they can get an approximation of your location for the past year, since the release of iOS4.

However, should people be as worried?

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New Services from Lebanese Mobile Operators Alfa and MTC

Lebanese people rejoice…

According to Lebanese telecom minister, Charbel Nahhas, Alfa and MTC will be launching their 3G services in 7 months time, for about 900,000 subscribers.

This will allow Lebanese mobile users to get access to speeds in the range of 7 – 21 mbps, which is a huge increase over what’s currently offered, be it through DSL or through mobile data packages.

In addition that, a fiber optic network is being built across the country, to set the path for a drastic improvement in internet speeds for end-users.

No pricing was discussed for 3G services but hopefully they won’t be as expensive as the horrid BlackBerry service currently offered.

Moreover, for those who like their phone number but dislike their operator, apparently you will be able to switch operators and keep your number. Maybe this will help create some competition between operators as they try to keep their subscribers?

Moreover, for prepaid subscribers, three new recharge options will be available soon.

The first package, available late February, will allow you to recharge a value of 30 minutes for 30 days, for $10. The second one available two months later will give you 60 minutes that will last you 30 days, for 25,000LL. And the third package, available in July, will give you 120 minutes of talktime for 48,000LL or $32.

Hopefully this won’t be just political talk and that we’d get more tangible information soon enough. A true broadband experience will do wonders for the Lebanese economy.’