Buckling under pressure

The GDN has two articles today about the Batelco restricted broadband packages. One written by Tariq Khonji highlights the users’ views while another contains responses and accusations by Batelco’s CEO, makes him actually sound like an Arab, but Greeks aren’t really that far away from our culture are they? 😉

So the campaigns of boycottbatelco.com and batelco.info are working, and the pressure is mounting. It is particularly pleasing to also see Waheed Al-Balooshi, who traditionally toes the “official” line as he demonstrated before in the MoI’s requirements to register websites, actually develop a semblance of a backbone and coyly disagreeing with Batelco. Being the head of the Internet Society here, I would have expected a bit more vociferous and outright condemnation by him. He in fact was the major reason why I refuse to be associated with the first Bahrain Websites Awards as he heads the judges panel: that’s rewarding him for standing against websites and their operators! (with all due respect to its main benefactor of course, whom I hold in high regard for his philanthropic work.)

Back to Batelco; Mr. Kaliaropoulos says that:

The company said in a statement that 100 per cent of Batelco’s existing volume customers will be better off both in terms of speed, volume and price/value with the new packages.

Eighty-six pc of them, who are on its flat unlimited packages, will be better of in terms of speed.

A number of unlimited customers, less than 14pc, may not get any new benefit, while a small minority may be worse off with the new threshold levels.

“In analysing the usage of our 23,000 customers over the 12 months of 2005, we identified that the majority of our unlimited customers have 256Kbps access and 91pc of these customers use 2.2GB on average monthly,” explained Mr Kaliaropoulos.

“When we analysed all the flat unlimited users (256Kbps + 512Kbps), the average usage was 7.4GB at an average cost of BD40 per month.

Well if the average maximum usage is 7.4GB, and you are now offering a 15GB bandwidth ceiling, why bother? If you believe through your stats that almost no one will actually get to the 15GB limit, why enforce a limit anyway? The answer most probably will be to stop ‘thiefnet.’ That of course is tantamount to Batelco taking the law into its own hand and completely disregarding the Bahraini legal system, being accuser, judge and executioner, and the government is just standing in the sidelines letting it do as it pleases while besmirching the whole country’s honour like this?

One would hope that with all of these statistics bandied about in the above article that they have proper tools to actually measure bandwidth through which they can readily identify abusers of the system. If that is the case, then surely Mr. K you would have instructed your substantial legal department to pursue remedies by warning, then cutting the service off that particular account? No? Why not? Ah, global punishment would certainly demonstrate your power wouldn’t it?! And why not? The TRA seems to be your puppy with a long waggy tail!

Mr. K, don’t even come crying to us that Batelco is spending 21 million Dinars on “improving” the internet infrastructure in the island, with EIGHTY SEVEN MILLION DINARS in pure profit last year, you should have spent at least TWICE that amount bringing in proper internet access to this very small island, we should have already had FTTH installed ten years ago and should have already enjoyed 100Mbps access to the various IP services available. That and your network infrastructure should have been forced completely open to allow competition to take hold and improve all of these services… instead what we have is once again myopic vision that has led to this country taking almost the very last place in the various metrics in developed and developing countries tables…

Mr. K, your company is stifling creativity and holding back our progress as a country. What we require here is just what is fair, and we want more as is our right and we have no problem paying for these new services fairly. We want open ceilings, and we want much better guaranteed throughputs and less time between failures. We don’t want your packages – whatever number you want to put on them for marketing’s sake – running at 40% efficiency or worse, and most certainly don’t want to go to 1986 with 64kbps access.

Could someone please wake the TRA and the EDB to the damage being done here?

Boycott Batelco – move your mobile phones to MTC-Vodafone!

  • David Bailey
    12 May 2006

    Great writing again Mahmood.

    I have been reading your blog for about three months now and I love it. I guess this Batelco issue finally got me worked up enough to write to you.

    I see this a lot like file sharing. Music and movie companies have been overwhelmed by the power of the Internet. It was only a couple of years ago that they were threatening arrests and lawsuits. Now Napster is legit and Warner Bros just signed a deal with BitTorrent to sell movies online. If you can’t beat them join them.

    Batelco will learn the same lesson. The sheikhs with their hands in the Batelco till just can’t stand the fact that someone else besides them might be stealing and getting away with it.

    With all of the money they make we should have the best internet service on the planet. Bahrain is smaller than some major cities. You are right to present this as a power move by a monopoly. I will do whatever I can to bust it up.

    BTW my mobile is already with Vodafone.

  • Anonymous
    12 May 2006

    so now you stopped complaining about the government and wanna enforce yourselves on private companies?

    viva bahraini companies. fuck kuwaiti comanies

  • Jameel
    12 May 2006

    Looks like they have another update on boycott batelco site. this one is excellent it is my favorite because they answer everything so clearn and looks like they no more than batelco!

    i think you should read this update and use it as answers for sunday

  • angelo
    12 May 2006

    Jameel is right… batelco’s ceo just replied them in a 12-part email 😀

  • Sid
    13 May 2006

    Thanks for leading the charge Mahmood – been a big fan since the Stray Cats days, and it’s great to see that all your efforts are finally generating a response.

    I was enraged further, reading Mr. K’s reply. Thankfully, once again, you took the words right out of my mouth and delivered them far more gracefully!

    This isn’t about how much you pay for internet, it is about a) being on par with the rest of the world and b) giving people everything they need to realize their full potential.

    The corporate suits will always remain just that….

  • mahmood
    14 May 2006

    I would like to thank the Bahrain Web Awards committee for their fairness and for their astute decision to re-form the judges committee for the awards. (arabic)

    Good luck to all of those who are participating, and I hope that next year my sites will be in the running!

  • mahmood
    14 May 2006

    Sid, my pleasure my friend!

    We’ll see what’s going to happen tonight. With Al-Hujairi, the chairman of the BIS/Computer Society, Mr. K and Adel Daylami speaking, they are definitely serious about the issue. So are we.

Friday laugh: Hypocrite Mulla