Touch’s Network Not Working & No Fix In Sight

You’d be kidding yourself if you said you could live without your phone nowadays. Now imagine that you had full reception and thought there was nothing wrong with your phone… except people had been trying to call you for hours and all they got was a busy signal or line blocked notification.

I’m not a Touch user. But a friend of mine is one of the many Touch users affected. And her story is one that needs to be told, hopefully someone out there decides to expedite attempts to fix the problem, if any attempts are actually underway.

Here is the story.

2 months ago, several people tried to call my friend’s phone only to get a signal that her line was off. However, she wasn’t notified of any calls even though her phone was active, 3G and all. It wasn’t a constant problem, it would appear sporadically and she didn’t know about it until the people that tried calling her met up with her in person.

She then called Touch’s support center. The employee decided that it was a problem with her brand new iPhone 5. I guess blaming the phone is the way to go. So in order to make sure it wasn’t a sim-card issue, she went ahead and replaced it with a nano sim straight out of Touch, hoping it was cutting the sim part that posed the problem. The employee there said it will definitely solve her problem.

Things were working for a while. It could have been the nano sim or that no one reported problems trying to contact her. The trouble-free duration lasted for a week. So when she started having trouble again, she decided to visit the Touch center again and went through several supervisors, the last of which told her the following:

  • It was a problem they’ve been having for the past 3 months and they didn’t know about it if it weren’t for the huge amount of complaints they received.
  • It doesn’t affect all Touch customers (she gave a 40% figure) and is device independent, meaning the iPhone 5 is not to blame.
  • The supervisor automatically assumed my friend is jobless and told her that other people with jobs have it worse. Because your phone matters are only important if you have a job.
  • When asked what my friend can do to fix it, the supervisor suggested to try calling someone every two hours in order to keep her line “registered” on the network. Then keep doing as such every two hours.
  • When asked if Alfa is having such issues, the supervisor said she doesn’t know. What she knows is that her network is affected.
  • When asked when the issue will be fixed, she said: we don’t know.
  • How is it acceptable for such a problem to be taking place for over 3 months with no fix in sight on Lebanon’s biggest network, I don’t know.

    Will 4G LTE Work On The iPhone in Lebanon?

    As of writing this post and as far as I know, the only device in the Lebanese market that is capable of running 4G/LTE is the iPhone 5. LTE enabled android smartphones have not been imported yet and the current ones in the market do not contain that functionality.

    However, there is one hurdle that I’m not sure if the ministry of telecommunication is familiar with regarding actually getting 4G to work on the iPhone 5.

    No, I’m not talking about the iPhone 5’s model, something I told you about many times before, being the first blog to tell you to buy model A1429 (click here). I am referring to the following:

    “Apple’s power over operators is often overstated, but for the first time, a carrier has confirmed that the company conducts its own tests on an LTE network before deciding whether to enable 4G services on iPhones and iPads for customers of that company.

    Swiss operator Swisscom admitted that was the case to mobile-focused website, confirming an Apple policy that many had previously believed to be true. A Swisscom spokesperson told that the company “only enables 4G access after testing their device on an operator’s live network.” (source)

    In order for LTE to be enabled on the only LTE phone in the Lebanese market so far, Apple needs to personally verify that the Lebanese network is up to par. Have we received any Apple technicians in the country to test out the 4G network ahead of the pilot phase and subsequent commercial launch in April?

    The iOS 6.1 update brought LTE functionality to a multitude of European and Middle Eastern countries. The functionality is not via activating the chip in the phone, it is enabling the toggle which allows an iPhone’s user to access their carrier’s LTE network. In order for us to receive this toggle in Lebanon, we will require another iOS update. Will Apple do one specifically for us and possibly other smaller markets in case they come and test our upcoming 4G LTE networks?

    Seeing as much more important markets, especially European ones, had to wait months for the 6.1 update, I doubt.

    This is the current state of the network data settings:

    LTE toggle iPhone 5 - 2


    And this is how it should be:

    LTE toggle iPhone 5

    I am writing this because I’m not sure if this issue has been brought up to those who are concerned with launching 4G in Lebanon. Having LTE work on our iPhones is not as simple as having the service activated on our sim cards and it also involves much more than simply having a functional network in the country’s main cities.

    Which iPhone 5 to Buy in Lebanon?

    I told you about this before (here and here) but minister Sehnaoui confirmed it on twitter yesterday.

    Nicolas Sehnaoui iPhone 5 tweets

    For the many Lebanese who will benefit from the price reductions (the phone is going for $800 max these days for the 16GB capacity) to buy the iPhone 5 either for themselves or for their loved ones this Christmas, there’s one important thing you need to ask the shop from which you’re buying the phone: which country did you get it from?

    If they got their iPhone 5 from the United States or Canada, model being A1428, the LTE that will launch later in 2013 won’t work on it as the chips are incompatible.

    If the country of origin is anything in Europe or Australia, then it will work. The model should be A1429.

    If you can’t but buy it from the United States, here’s a way you can do it: send the person buying it for you to an Apple Store and get them to buy a no-contract Verizon iPhone 5. It will have the sim card slot fully unlocked and its LTE capabilities are compatible with the frequency that’ll be launched in Lebanon soon.

    For those of you who have already bought their iPhone 5 without asking about the country of origin, tough luck. Odds are you won’t be able to benefit from LTE once it’s rolled out.

    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


    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.


    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.


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