Batelco is feeling the heat!

12 Jun, '07

Batelco new ADSL package details

With the various schemes and announcements from potential competitors like 2Connect with their 30% reduction in tariffs for broadband changes when compared to Batelco, the mediocre and meagre offerings of MTC Vodafone’s 3.5G access and latest from both MENA Telecom and MTC Vodafone’s WiMax initiatives, Batelco surprised no one when they announced yesterday in their press conference that they are reducing the tariffs of business broadband by 25% while 2 new packages were introduced at a reduction for businesses with an unlimited threshold. That’s the good part, the bad of course is that they are still too expensive when compared to the rest of the world and there is a lot of improvement room left not only in price, but also for the speeds available, which, I am certain, will come along a lot faster now that competition is heating up.

I refuse to believe that these changes have happened to “help” the community, Batelco had ample time and resources to do that amidst the community passionate appeals for them to do so, they brushed those appeals aside, lifted their noses high and went ahead and did what pleases them. So the following seems rather strange coming from them, it is as if they have just woken up to the power of communications in general and are philanthropically and selflessly now contributing to the country’s development and global competitiveness:

“Information and communication technology (ICT) and e-services can complement the kingdom’s financial sector in accelerating Bahrain’s future economic growth,” he noted.

“To enable businesses and ministries to embrace the advantages of electronically delivered services, the availability and cost of high speed broadband connectivity is crucial.

“Batelco has, therefore, introduced new managed data services and reduced its prices for business broadband by 50pc.”

This will create the most competitive rates for high speed dedicated Internet access across the GCC, said Mr Kaliaropoulos.

“Online delivery of services and information by ministries and businesses, not only creates a sustainable, knowledge-driven economy but also creates high value jobs and encourages innovation in creating and delivering content via portals and fixed and wireless devices,” he said.

“Fixed and wireless broadband technologies introduced by Batelco and now, extremely competitive Internet access services, are crucial components for regional leadership in e-services.”

No Mr. Kaliaropoulos, what you did is respond to mounting competitive pressures, which a normal company is fully condoned in doing of course; however, Batelco, being effectively the sole operator in the country and the criticality of its product in the development of our economy and creativity, you should have responded without having to wait for the competition to knock on your door. Had you done so, you would have already realised the increased market size and profitability as you have already noticed in your mobile telephony offerings:

واوضح ان “المنافسة في السوق خلقت زبائن جددا ولم تؤثر كثيرا على الشركة التي فقدت فقط نحو 15% الى 20% من زبائنها، في حين ارتفع عدد مستخدمي النقال في البحرين من 300 الف الى نحو 620 الف مشتركا”.

“Competition in the market created new customers and did not affect the company too much as it lost only about 15% – 20% of its customers while mobile users increased from 300,000 to about 620,000 subscribers in Bahrain”

The question now is will the TRA play your game and allow you to offer these prices? I hope they will, but only to force you and your competitors to achieve better competitiveness through efficiency and strengthening the market size in order to offer even more reasonable reductions in exorbitant tariffs.

So thanks.

I want more competition, please.

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  1. Global Voices Online » Bahrain: Internet Costs Down | 13 Jun, '07
  1. TwoTired says:

    That’s great!

    Now if they’d only “help the community” by lowering residential internet prices ;).

  2. LuLu says:

    Whether one believes “economic reforms” are happening here or not, this is at one reform initiative that actually worked.. liberalizing the telecoms market and creating the TRA were two reform moves that we average Bahrainis should be thankful for. Personally I’ll be even more thankful & impressed when the TRA finally gets the courage to force batelco to lease its infrastructure to other companies at lower costs (as in At&T in the US, etc). Competition should then be on a whole different level 😉

  3. Mahmood,

    there are a few things that the average Joe in Bahrain don’t realize, but i thought you out of many people would understand.

    Batelco, MTC, 2Connect and all the other companies are buying the INTERNET at very high prices, getting the INTERNET from the cloud to Bahrain or any other GCC country is very expensive compared to far east, Europe and North America, which results in higher retail prices.

    I am not trying to justify inflated margins by anyone, I am just saying that the dreams of having 20mb SDSL or ADSL for a few dinars like Japan or England are far from reality for the above reason and for many other reasons.

    I personally believe that the first thing we need to have implemented, specially in a country as small as Bahrain is Fiber to home, to hell with WiMax, why should we even bother with such technology in a small country like Bahrain?

    Fiber, on the long run is much cheaper than any WiMAX, WiFi, FSO solution, I have been working with wireless devices for 2 years, and have seen many of them do the job perfectly, but whats the maintenance cost of them, whats the life time of the device? what are the limitations? how are they effected by the very extreme weather conditions that we have ? all these are questions that should come in mind before praising the technology.

    I am not Bashing wireless solutions in any way, shape or form, it a fantastic technology and have been successfully used globally, and it is the fastest way to create a reliable Network, and could be the cheapest on the SHORT RUN, but is that what the customer wants? or is it what the ISP wants?

    The customers in Bahrain vary from the average browser, to the on line dealer, to those who use the INTERNET for a living, and all these people have deferent needs and wants, some want the cheapest and don’t care about the quality, and those who want the latest and greatest like you, me and many other like Mohamed Isa who is a regular on this Blog, so why is it a bad idea to deploy fiber optics, as a matter of fact, If I was Batelco i would have started deploying Fiber in 2003 when no one was competing and have covered the whole kingdom by now.

    Fiber will allow the ISP’s to introduce many new products and make them a real one stop shop for all third generation technology, think IP TV, Cheap Video calls between houses, High speed broadband, cheap VPN’s, bla bla bla, but hey, we are in Bahrain aren’t we.

    other countries have been trying to lower the cost of providing INTERNET for many years, and Manny companies created products that we haven’t even heard of in the Part of the world, but all this depends on the infrastructure of the country or the area of operation, as an example is a technology call (PLC) power line connectivity, this technology work on the average power (electricity) copper, and can be deployed easily on ranges from a multi tenant building to a compound and with the use of the correct devices you can deploy on as big as small town using one or 2 PoP’s, but come to think about it, even out power lines are not reliable in Bahrain, haha.

    I think I Drifted enough and its time to shut up.

    Lets pray for cheaper INTERNET.

  4. @Lulu,

    that is the worst thing that can happen to Bahrain really, Batelco’s infrastructure is old, and we need innovation.

    what we really need is to have all the ISP’s form a small company like “Benefit” for banks; this company should be responsible for Deploying fiber across the country and then managing the utilization of that network between ISP’s, this way, all ISP’s can save up on the deployment of FIBER OPTICS, and also have a fantastic reach to all customers.

  5. Tariq says:

    2connect started free Internet Service in Riffa, will soon cover entire country.

    2Connect is giving 256kbps speed with a 2GB threshold Internet for free that’s Batelco’s BD10 package free of charge.

    Keep it up 2Connect.

    WoW!!!!!

  6. Ehsan says:

    🙄

    30 BD/month for 2MB “real” unlimited bandwidth (bursts to 3MB during off-peak) plus two fixed IP addresses and more goodies like QoS and packet priority when I set the right flags.

    I dread the move back to Bahrain.

    Absolutely nothing has changed in the past 2 years. I’ll continue to beat that dead horse myself, but we could name a few people which deserve the flogging instead.

    Companies don’t operate in vacuums, and puppeteers enjoy too much seclusion/protection in Bahrain.

    But let’s keep quiet. You’re in Bahrain, so it’s libel even if it’s true.

  7. Tariq says:

    @Eyad the Great
    “Lets pray for cheaper INTERNET.”

    Why pray for cheap Internet when you can get it for free. :mrgreen: 😆 😆 😀 🙂 :mrgreen:

  8. @Tariq, I have my reasons haha.

    How is the Free Internet? are you using normal WiFi to recive it, or you have a CPE?

  9. Tariq says:

    @Eyad the Great

    ya normal wifi.

    It’s also in the news.

    GDN

  10. mahmood says:

    Lulu:

    liberalizing the telecoms market and creating the TRA were two reform moves that we average Bahrainis should be thankful for

    indubitably

    Eyad:

    Batelco, MTC, 2Connect and all the other companies are buying the INTERNET at very high prices, getting the INTERNET from the cloud to Bahrain or any other GCC country is very expensive compared to far east, Europe and North America, which results in higher retail prices.

    Eyad you’re thinking withIN the box rather than outside it. In this age of internationalization and how Batelco – specifically – is concentrating on regional (and then global) expansion – what is stopping a regional operator having a pan-Gulf or pan-Arab ISP operation? Wouldn’t that create the necessary cost/benefit/price structure that we need?

    I would have thought that you above all would understand! 😈

    If I was Batelco i would have started deploying Fiber in 2003 when no one was competing and have covered the whole kingdom by now

    Full disclosure: my company was involved in quoting for the now dead FTTH project for Batelco. We were unsuccessful and the pilot went to Alcatel. No idea what has happened to it since then.

  11. Proud Bahraini says:

    i don’t understand 2mbps for 30BD per month???

    i seem to have alot of hard time dealing with this

    unlimited downloads ???

    ouh ouh i’m coming home then

  12. Ehsan says:

    Proud Bahraini,

    That’s in Dubai, not in Bahrain. Sorry 🙂

  13. LuLu says:

    Mahmood,

    Cross-border access to the Bahraini market is not permitted.

    Article 26 (a/1) of telecoms law of 2002 states that “substantially all the infrastructure and personnel associated with the provision of telecommunications services must be located within Bahrain”

    The TRA has actually been pretty adamant about keeping this provision of the law in the interest of protecting local companies (or company)..

  14. naddooi says:

    right, so the article says, the more demand for the service, the faster the expansion of 2connect, where do we sign up?!?!?!

    I see no details on their website… 😕

  15. Eyad you’re thinking withIN the box rather than outside it. In this age of internationalization and how Batelco – specifically – is concentrating on regional (and then global) expansion – what is stopping a regional operator having a pan-Gulf or pan-Arab ISP operation? Wouldn’t that create the necessary cost/benefit/price structure that we need?

    Mahmood, You didn’t get my point, and I’m not planing on further explaining it as it might lead to show that Batelco is the good person, its not.

    the whole point of this campaign is to cripple the offering on the whole sale DSL plan that they were forced by law to introduce, the offers are not yet approved by the TRA and it will be months before they do, so Batelco will keep their customers for a few more months and when the TRA finally takes a decision about the offers there will be something else, normal act from Batelco.

  16. mahmood says:

    Eyad I agree with you, and I’m looking at it from a different perspective.

    What Batelco is trying to do now is exactly what they did when they announced the BD5 package. Then they were reacting to, and were trying to force, the TRA to terrorize them into doing something they shouldn’t AND reacting to close the door on the competition.

    Typical Batelco tactics under the direction of Peter K. specifically as it has never been this unwarrantedly aggressive under previous managements.

  17. mahmood says:

    Lulu, you’ll probably find that that article contravenes the FTA, GAT and other international agreements! They will probably have to remove that very soon.

  18. Dude says:

    That Peter dude pisses me off id like to go and smack him, seriously he lies and lies and lies 👿

  19. Mr. H says:

    Mahmood and Lulu,

    about the cross-border access issue, Mahmood that’s a great idea and believe me when I say that operators like Batelco and Etisalat and others in the GCC region desperately want to connect (or peer) with eachother but as of yet, only incumbents are around Bahrain and they peer with eachother in a very weak way (i.e. 2-10MB links)! we are the only country which has opened almost (if not all) fully for local and international access. there has to be strong lobbying for governments in Saudi, Qatar, Kuwait, UAE and Oman to open up to create investments for a Gulf-wide ISP operation..

    and about legality stuff, LuLu in Bahrain you are allowed for cross-border access, you just get an IFL (International Facilities License) or you do it through a reseller or someone who owns such a license in Bahrain. Go on the TRA’s website and instructions to get the license (which is available) are all set and you can see who currently has such a license.. Mahmood, the Law has been checked, rechecked, re-rechecked to make sure it complies with all international laws.. trust me it is 🙂 all other regulators in the GCC region (especially the one in Saudi Arabia) are gob-smacked by the amount of openness and transparency the law has.. and before you know it Ehsan from the UAE, solutions like the 30MB one you talk about will be child’s walk compared to the speed of competition (or the heat of!) which will push operators to offer faster and more cost-effective internet.. u wait and see 1 year from now and the whole internet landscape in Bahrain will change

  20. mahmood says:

    I believe you Mr. H and that’s exactly what I was thinking – as going regional and achieving what Freedman dubs the China Price.

  21. milter says:

    I almost feel ashamed of mentioning my own monthly fees for a 4Mb/512Kb, unlimited connection here in Denmark.

    How does BHD24 a month sound?

    It looks like Batelco needs a lot of competition.

  22. Bernie says:

    I’ve just realised the prices you pay for connection and I’m absolutely horrified. Batelco should be sued for racketeering and it’s directors clapped in irons.
    I pay £25 per month for an 8Mbit connection downstream and 512kb upstream with a 50 Gigabyte monthly limit. That works out to BHD18.6 per month.

    I can’t believe they have managed to get away with such horrendous business practices and I hope they really feel the heat because even their new prices are just outrageous.

    Hell, I’m angry and it doesn’t affect me. 👿

  23. Anonymous says:

    At this point, ANY alternative is good alternative.

  24. Batelco is pushing the TRA to reject it, it’s very clear.
    Other companies have vaporware products and services, so far.

  25. TeleGuy says:

    Why not move to amwaj island any enjoy unlimited symmetrical (upload/download speeds are equal) Internet.

    Rates are:
    Registeration Charge: BD20

    Monthly Charge:
    256/256 up/down Unlimited = BD20
    512/512 up/down Unlimited = BD40
    1M/1M up/down Unlimited = BD55
    2M/2M up/down Unlimited = BD70

    Enjoy 😀 😀 😀

  26. TeleGuy says:

    For further Info please visit:

    Nuetel Website

    Residential Internet Tariffs

  27. @tele guy, Great suggestion, we move the whole population to amwaj islands, and the attraction is over priced Internet!!!

    nice marketing mate, I hope you were being sarcastic.

  28. mahmood says:

    This is the value of FTTH I guess. Now extend that to the rest of the country and we’ll be very pretty!

  29. Tariq says:

    I think its ETTH.

  30. Loki says:

    I have to say i’m a bit more sympathetic to Batelco. I find it fascinating that people think Batelco has a social responsibility to Bahrain whilst at the same time expecting it to be like a world class telco. Its one or the other, not both. International standard telco’s have the goal of maximising shareholder return – fulls top (usually, though not always through profit maximisation). Batelco is behaving this way now. While it can, it will leverage its position as the dominant telco.

    My main beef is with the so called competition who have been tottally clueless about what they are trying to achieve. When I look at some of the technologies they are using I can’t help but wonder what on earth they are thinking. In a market this small, the only sector worth going after is the Business Market, none of them (apart from MTC up to a point) have come up with a compelling value proposition. I think the comment about vapourware is very valid.

  31. mahmood says:

    I disagree Loki, the way to prosper long-term in business is to have some ethics and social responsibility. Batelco, being the sole operator for so long and enjoying the consistently high levels of profitability, should demonstrate much more social responsibility than giving away money to charitable institutions once in a while. It would do much better and be much more socially responsible if it engendered creativity and competitiveness for businesses in Bahrain.

    If they do not think of social responsibility and just maximising profits, what’s would the difference be between them and say drug dealers?

  32. batelco is trying to look like a triple bottomline company.
    but they are putting all their efforts into maximizing profit, they use the TRA whenever they want to look nice infront of society.

    Coming back to vaporware. here are some facts:
    – all you need is to look like a real company, and get some other investors or companies to buy you. (example Phantom Console)
    – one of the new telecom companies in Bahrain, didn’t pay their employees for 5 or 6 months.

  33. Loki says:

    If I were a cynic I would say “welcome to capitalism!” 😐

    Seriously though regarding long-term prosperity, customers care about service, not social responsibilty. Customers will stay with them as long as they provide a better service than the competition.

  34. mahmood says:

    And there is nothing wrong with making a profit, I look for it like every other business and businessperson, but I maintain that social responsibility has a big business and customer retention value. Batelco does do some of that, but in a lot of things they are misguided. They need to re-evaluate their position and obsolete their own product before someone else comes and does it for them.

    This is already happening and they are – I feel – on the defensive. Look how they fight every single TRA attempt to open the market.

    To get back to the point, the issue is not just making a profit, a company as large as Batelco and in its position in the economy as the owner of “enabling technologies” they should not be allowed to run free like this.

    No, I’m not proposing a socialist model, what I am proposing is that the TRA takes away Batelco’s infrastructural networks and leases it back to them and other market entrants to create a good competitive situation that the country as a whole should benefit from.

    Maybe that’s one way out of the Batelco controlling quagmire.

  35. Loki says:

    Fair point, but I would argue that your beef should be with TRA not Batelco. If you were the CEO of Batelco would you actively make life easier for your competitors?

  36. zodiac says:

    hi there guyz,

    Mahmood…
    lets hit the iron while it’s hot …

    revive the boycott batelco site to full force…

    lets arrange meetings ..

    protest …

    encourage their competitions ..

    and do mass cut in the mobile subscriptions .. they lost 15 -20 % lets give em 10% loss in one day ..

    and lets find ways … (with our hacker brothers…) to explicit their packages… and use em against them …

    I used to be loyal to batelco … used to love them
    never shared a line …
    have 2 internet lines and 2 mobile lines…
    look how they repaid me … what a nice loyal customer gift from batelco ..

    power to the people …

    [peace]

  37. mahmood says:

    I’ve opened up the comments and registration again (and put in a new theme even!) about a week ago. I’ll track the happenings of Batelco and other telcos in there.

  38. CovertHacker says:

    @zodiac

    and lets find ways … (with our hacker brothers…) to explicit their packages… and use em against them …

    Already doing!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 😀 😀 😀
    Don’t worry!!

  39. Anonymous says:

    @zodiac

    and lets find ways … (with our hacker brothers…) to explicit their packages… and use em against them …

    Already doing!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 😀 😀 😀
    Don’t worry!!

    cool i’m trying here as well …
    – bridging networks –

    any success?

    😀

  40. TelecomWatch says:

    BATELCO seems to have 4500 business customers. They have been bragging about the 50% discount for some time now. Dont really know why they are not launching it. Earlier it was said that they will launch the offer in June and then it was said to happen in July and now they say it will be in August.

    Now that even TRA has approved the 50% drop I feel BATELCO is playing games and delaying the launch or perhaps there is a bigger problem that BATELCO Shareholders are stopping them from dropping prices.

    Looks like with 4500 business customer accounts 50% disocunt will bring down their Profits by BD 3 million per year.

    Is there a way to find out if shareholders are restricting BATELCO from slashing prices.

    Anybody any idea of Shareholders role in BATELCO operations.

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