Battle of the Telcos has started!

2 Mar, '10

Here’s the VIVA ad this morning thanking the people of Bahrain for their welcome and for the unmitigated success of their number launch campaign:

VIVA\’s Ad

and a couple of pages later we find Bateclo has taken the top half of the page with this:

Batelco\’s Ad

Which is a deep poke in VIVA’s eye!

The background of this story is that when VIVA launched their number booking campaign, their servers crashed horribly for a few DAYS, allegedly because of the huge load they experienced with people trying to reserve their favourite numbers. That wasn’t a good sign at all, especially that VIVA claim that Broadband is their main product surpassing that of mobile telephony.

Batelco’s not letting them get away with it, of course, as with this ad, they’re reminding people that words are cheap and when the chips are down, VIVA already lost the battle because of that gigantic crash of their IT infrastructure, which, of course is the backbone of any Internet connectivity product AND that VIVA’s infrastructural reliability leaves a lot to be desired.

“The crash” is undoubtedly an extremely embarrassing event for VIVA, especially when you consider that they have advertised the number booking website (33.com.bh) very heavily and encouraged people to book through the web rather than go and wait in line for hours to book their favourite number.

While I have no doubt some heads must have rolled due to that royal fuckup, Batelco – and most probably every other telecoms company in Bahrain too – will never let them forget it.

What would you think is the best course for VIVA to surmount that embarrassment?

In my humble opinion, running “Thank you” ads, while admirable, is not enough. It’s time for VIVA to double their investment and more importantly redouble their effort into intelligent (and humble!) PR, backed up with solid and transparent messaging to regain the ground they’ve lost.

This is far from easy, of course, and it will require a lot of creativity and courage. Will VIVA have these required qualities? Time will tell. I know this though: with this new arrival, we certainly are living in an interesting times, with Batelco already scoring a win and it hasn’t even put it’s gloves fully on!

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Comments (18)

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  1. HassanF says:

    Mahmood, I think you are missing another PR nightmare for VIVA, which is their incomprehensible attitude of placing phone masts illegally in some places and the public uproar that has ensued due to their actions.

    Frankly in 1 way, I genuinely believe that STC did have good intentions in launching and operating in a professional manner, however don’t forget where they’re coming from and what they deem to be ‘acceptable’. I’ve seen some pictures in Saudi about the locations of their masts, and quite honestly it’s even worse than it is here!

    On top of that, it’s great to advertise, but in this manner!? and the promise of exactly getting ’21MBps’ speed is plain wrong and honestly the TRA needs to intervene to stop this promise, atleast adding the word ‘up to’.

    the website being down due to heavy traffic is no big deal honestly. That’s what happened when Apple launched the iPhone (in both occasions!)

    It comes down to the fact that demand far outpaced expectations.. poses the question of whether people love to be first time adopters or they r simply sick and tired of bouncing back and forth between the 2 very similar operators currently.

    VIVA management take note: look at the Batelco’s corporate social responsibility figures and just double it placing it in really good effective causes. trust me you will gain acceptance quite soon !

    • mahmood says:

      I can’t comment on the legality of otherwise of VIVA constructing comms towers, if they did, then it speaks volumes about the Bahraini law which did not get them not only immediately removed, but comprehensively fine them for the privilege. As it should for any other comms company which treads in those footsteps.

      I agree with you that the 21Mbps is incorrect in several locations. I’ve got 3 of those USB modems and after struggling to install them on Macs, I couldn’t get more than 1Mbps – 2Mbps in most locations I’ve tried them out at. My son tells me that he regularly gets approx 4Mbps, but in either case those figures are too far away from their promised 21Mbps. Maybe they’re not up to speed yet so I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt, but come March 4th, then they should be held to their promises as are other operators.

      The CSR promised by VIVA as part of their winning bid could far outstrip Batelco should they choose to enact it. In their contract with the TRA, they are committed to spending 1% of their revenue and BD300 to be injected into the Bahraini ICT infrastructure and SMEs. Let’s see if that ever becomes a reality.

  2. The Cynic says:

    Poke is the smallest word you could use describing this public humiliation 🙂

  3. Mohammed says:

    Let them competing to get the better services, especially for the internet!
    Am waiting VIVA opening day for more details.

  4. I got a Silver 33 number just for the “21.5” Mbs USB. Could not install it. I called the helpline and dealt with an untrained lady who was reading from a manual. She had no technical knowledge at all.

    I called a couple of hours later and was told that it depends on the area, and that maybe the dongle does not work in my area. But when I bought the number the saleslady assured me it would even work in Hiwar island. Was gonna write a blog post about but decided not to. So far I’m not impressed with them…

    • mahmood says:

      My son got it to work eventually.

      On a Mac, install the included software first, then even though it adds networking components in the Network control panel, click the + there and select “Huawei Ethernet” from the list and close the control panel. Once that is done, click “Connect” on the included software then enjoy the connection.

      I tried to do the same with a “later” USB modem a friend of mind got and I couldn’t get it to work. So frustrate yourself Googling and eventually – I’m fairly sure – you’ll find the solution.

      A completely agree with your assessment of their current customer support, but as the youths employed there now are just at the start of their journey, and even though I know from first hand that it could be frustrating, I suppose they can only get better.

      You know what they say: Pioneers suffer so followers get an easier ride!

  5. forzaq8 says:

    Viva sites always crashed when they start the number reservation

    it happened in Kuwait before , i don’t think they didn’t notice or learn from that

  6. I’m just waiting for Batelco to slash their DSL prices.
    I like wires! Can’t afford lag!

    • mahmood says:

      I can imagine them staying awake past midnight last night hitting the Refresh button continuously while connected to viva.com.bh!

    • mahmood says:

      But look at this:

      Package Details
      Contract Type Monthly Subscription USB Modem Price Package
      12 Months 30 BD Free Unlimited Usage

      Terms and Conditions

      * Should the subscriber terminate the contract before the end of the 12 months period, he/she will be held liable with a 100 BD penalty fee
      * Fair usage policy: Once you exceed 60 GB of usage, the internet speed will automatically decrease to 512 Kbps*

      1. At least they’re forthright in what the package contains and the limitations are spelled out in the same font and same weight and immediately beneath the package details
      2. The battle will be not only with prices, but also with the FUP, termination clauses and contract lengths.

      Let the battle begin.

      • mahmood says:

        spoke too soon, this at the end of the same page linked to above:

        * the fair usage policy is designed to make sure your broadband service is as fast and reliable as possible. Some of our broadband customers use file sharing software and download large files like music and videos. This uses up lots of network capacity leaving less available for you. If they’re doing this at peak times, it could mean that the speed of your broadband service will be affected. Our fair usage policy is up to 60GB, which is virtually an unlimited capacity, giving you ample bandwidth to enjoy the service. If you exceed 60GB, you will still enjoy unlimited broadband, but at lower speeds.

        half truths and scaremongering?

        wouldn’t you like to go around slapping anyone around you who has the VIVA dongle connected regardless of what s/he’s doing? “IT’S BECAUSE OF THAT BASTARD THAT MY INTERNET CONNECTION IS SLOW!”

  7. FYI says:

    the best thing is to install the USB modem while connected to the internet. the windows plug & play will to the rest and download the missing drivers to your PC.

  8. Shaker N Cutty says:

    Is that bloke in the advert somebody famous from the Arab world?

  9. CNC says:

    actually the price is really good for that kind of service.

    i just hope they clarify by adding “up to 21mbps”

    Zain Broadband would be clearly affected by viva , they are in dear disadvantage unless they make their own service at very least 3X better , i am going to terminate my service real soon if they don’t.

    and i feel batleco are going to cut price by around 30% to 40%

  10. Sid says:

    It’s GREAT…until:

    1) you realize it’s ‘up to’ 21mbps
    2) you try to connect more than one user through their fancy wi-fi router which instantly drops each users speed to 7.2mbps

    So, even if you have 2 users, you don’t get ‘up to’ 10.5mbps?! Dodgy, very dodgy.

    Better the devil you know than the devil you don’t…I’ll stick with B

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