Tag Archives batelco

Bye VIVA, it’s not been fun

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After a year of painfully using Viva’s mediocre but much over-hyped internet offering in Bahrain, I’ve terminated both contracts for my home and office. The best speed I could get out of Viva was something like 4mbps and that was flaky. As far as the uploads are concerned, I don’t think I got much more than 512kbps, and yes, that was flaky too. As a media company with daily uploads and downloads of large files, we couldn’t take it any more. To prevent a complete riot (the guys were suspiciously building a platform in our back garden, when I saw a trap door being modelled in its floor, I knew I had to do something!)

VIVA Bahrain internet broadband offering is a disappointment

So I wend back to Batelco. Paying more than five times the price (BD160 for a business line at 8mbps) is a pleasure for at least having a dependable (well, mostly dependable) connection with an upload speed of approximately 1mbps (well, most days) although the promise was double that.

Here’s the result of a speedtest I did just now:

Batelco internet speed test
What irks me most about these continuous episodes of disappointment with operators and their prices, is the TRA who’s supposed to oversee these companies and force them to at least live up to their promises doesn’t seem to be doing much.

Why is it that Viva is allowed to advertise “Up to 48Mbps” and “Fastest internet in Bahrain” when in real life their dismal speed in most areas I’ve looked at doesn’t even exceed 10Mbps? Certainly both at my home (Barbar area) and office (Abu Sayba area) all we experienced was 4Mbps almost throughout the one year of installation.

When asked by the attendant this morning while cancelling both lines and told him that I was dissatisfied with the speed, he repeated what I got to know as the “Viva party line”: “but even if you get 2Mbps, it’s good enough as our promise is up to 48Mbps!”

Yes sure. Have it your way. Mine is – as a customer – is complete disappointment. And the way I vote, is through my wallet and you’re no longer getting that.

TRA, do what you’re supposed to do, otherwise cowboys will continue to rule the scene and the country will continue to suffer the uncompetitiveness which has become its way of life.


Practical Marketing Lessons

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Lessons in practical marketing: on the left are warm colours, bright but warn environment, hi end tv running a high end looping advert, ‘welcome’ used at the ticket machine, services clearly shown with simple icons and a nice well maintained plant inside and a quick service machine outside.

On the right, dark, dingy and old. Mismatched lights, scored desks, claustrophobic blacks, mismatched ad boards, two old tv screens with static content, empty feedback form stand and a pretense at living the environment by having a phone recycling box but no plant in sight, negating the caring message.

Which would you give your business to?


Battle of the Telcos has started!

Battle of the Telcos has started!

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!


Continued frustration with throttled connections, solved?

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I’ve done everything I could to limit the use of the internet in the house just so that at least we go past two weeks before I get the dreaded “you’re it” message from our beloved Batelco.

The record was 12 days.

Since they upgraded the package to 4MB, which is just a few weeks ago, we got the 75% warning yesterday, so I doubt very much that we’ll get to the record 12 days this time. The kids swear that they’re not downloading much, just watching YouTube sometimes and surfing. Just normal Internet activity to them really, they haven’t been reared on a 300 baud connection with BD600 a month telephone bills, so what do they know? To them, it’s like the air they breath, just second nature.

They got incensed when I limited their Internet access between 8am to 8pm with a complete blackout after 8pm.

Weird. Even with that, we bust the limit. Something I am highly skeptical of. No, we don’t have viruses nor trojans that I know of. We’re exclusively on Macs, one desktop and 4 laptops (5 with mine when I bring it over), so the only thing that is permanently connected is the iMac.

What is a man to do then? Especially when my business depends on the Internet and I have to carry on working when I get home? Well, get a higher bandwidth limit of course. Therefore, the call went to Batelco yesterday to upgrade our package to 8MB which comes with a 40GB limit. That should get us to approximately a 3 week limit before we bust that at the rate we’re going.

They checked the line and called me today: our lines coming into the house can’t handle more than 5 and a bit Mbps. Damn. Well, as the main reason for thinking of this package is really bandwidth rather than speed, I told them to just go ahead. Those 15GB/month extra would easily make up the difference in price.

Today, the deed was done.

Let’s see how long it lasts.

If you have any ideas why we’re eating up bandwidth like this, I would like to hear them.


Batelco to introduce new broadband packages

from Twitter with no confirmation yet on Batelco’s pages:

Blocked websites in Bahrain

#WebsiteURLAdmin OrderAlternate URL
1منتديات شهداء البحرين
Bahrain Martyrs Forums
2منتديات المالكية
Malkiya Forums
3منتدى شبكة الدراز
Alduraz Network Forums
4منتديات البحرين
Bahrain Forums
5تقرير البندر
Albandar Report (Bandargate)
members.tripod. com/bahrain32005/43
6ملتقى البحرين
Bahrain Online
bahrainonline.org2006/58http://bahrain4u. com and index.php Alternates BLOCKED by Admin Order# 2008/197 on 5 Aug 08
7مركز البحرين لحقوق الإنسان
Bahrain Centre for Human Rights
bahrainrights.org2006/60alternate bchr.net is also blocked
8منتديات باب البحرين
Bab Albahrain Forums
9الشبكة العربية لمعلومات حقوق الإنسان
Arab Network for Human Rights
10منتديات قرية شهركان الثقافية
Shahrakkan Village Cultural Forums
11منتدى فريج الحياك
Alhayak Neighbourhood Forum
12بنت جبيل
Bint Jbeil
13منتديات الثقلين
Althuqlain Forums
14منتديات الجفير
Juffair Forums
15أسكان عالي
A’ali Housing Forums
16موقع كرزكان
Karzakan Forums
17منتديات هيئة علي الأصغر
Ali Alasghar Forums
18شبكة النور الإسلامية
Alnoor Islamic Forums
19البندر )جديد(
Albandar (bandargate - new)
20يا حسين
Ya Hussain Forums
Haaq Political Movement
22منتديات عراد نت
Arad Forums
23شاطئ الإيثار
Ethar Coast Forums
24منتديات المحفوظ
Almahfood Forums
25منتديات كرباباديات
Karbabad Forums
26صحيفة أوال الالكترونية
Awaal Electronic Journal
awaal.net2008/16http://www.awaal.net. nyud.net:8090/
27منتديات الصرح الوطني
The National Edifice Forums
wattani.net2008/193block order on 30/8/08 http://wattaninet.net/forum blocked under Admin Order# 2008/197 on 5 Aug 08
28حركة أحرار البحرين الإسلامية
Bahrain Freedom Movement
30الحوار المتمدن
Modern Descussion
31أحرار البحرين
Ahrar Bahrain
The Critic
34Free Coptsfreecopts.net
35Arab Churcharabchurch.com
36Kurd Timeskurdtimes.com
38The Lands of Sandsbenkerishan.blogspot.comalternate benkerishan.com also blocked
Last updated 30 July, ’08 by Mahmood Al-YousifVia @BoilingIce and @ahmedzainal on Twitter.

Batelco’s channel alludes to this too:

@batelco: Our existing customers will be automatically migrated to the new broadband packages with higher speeds & more usage, up to 90% lower prices!
[…] E.g.: customers who are currently subscribed to the 2Mbps/BD60 package will be automatically upgraded to 4Mbps at a reduced price of BD50!

New ad for Batelco's latest ADSL packages to presumably be released soon.
New ad for Batelco's latest ADSL packages to presumably be released soon. source: http://twitpic.com/7dnf7
via http://twitter.com/bahraini/statuses/2168630156
via http://twitter.com/bahraini/statuses/2168630156


Batelco Blocked!

In a reversal of fortunes, Batelco finds its own site blocked by a much higher authority than the one it kowtows to: Google!

Several people emailed me a screen grab of Batelco’s site in the latest FireFox browser which severely warns people from having anything to do with Batelco; in fact, it offers a very expeditious get-way for would-be visitors by offering them a button which says “Get me out of here!”

While the dire warning of having anything to do with Batelco is not new, nor is it unique, it is quite germane to the company that offers us untold amount of spam, and through whose servers and collection of IP addresses our business get affected. I am sure that others have suffered from those petulant “undeliverable mail” syndromes that hurls emails back at senders like gleaming hot coals due to their association with Batelco due to its status in the black lists of almost all the major spam-detecting engines.

So thanks to the dependable Google for protected me and countless others who have the forethought to insist on using Firefox which allows for the display of such warnings:

Batelco site blocked by Firefox 3 warning of malicious content
Batelco site blocked by Firefox 3 warning of malicious content

What is the current listing status for www.batelco.com?

  • Site is listed as suspicious – visiting this web site may harm your computer.
  • Part of this site was listed for suspicious activity 1 time(s) over the past 90 days.

What happened when Google visited this site?

  • Of the 843 pages we tested on the site over the past 90 days, 284 page(s) resulted in malicious software being downloaded and installed without user consent. The last time Google visited this site was on 07/27/2008, and the last time suspicious content was found on this site was on 07/27/2008.
  • Malicious software is hosted on 27 domain(s), including butdrv .com, chds .ru, kgj3 .ru.
  • 1 domain(s) appear to be functioning as intermediaries for distributing malware to visitors of this site, including butdrv .com.

Lackadaisical security policies? Or is it once again complete indifference on Batelco’s part?

I would err on the side of both; why should they even care if they are the de facto source of internet communications in this country? A privilege they hold on to and will continue to do so with the complete aid and support of our very own Government – being its largest shareholder, and one that does not care to put any pressure whatsoever on its child to engender creativity and competitiveness in order to allow Bahraini individuals and companies to compete in a global and much more connected marketplace?

The reason must be manifold of course, but could the chief reason amongst them is the perceived indifference that our own government holds us in by allowing the perpetuation of this situation? Robbing us of our chances of a much more creative and competitive marketspace that cheaper and unrestricted communication could very well engender?

In any case. I urge everyone who has to deal with Batelco to exercise extreme caution. You never know when (not if) you will be breached because you are beholden to them.


M.Report – S01E06

Oooh, a minister DISRESPECTED parliament today. They went ape and I have footage to show it! Other than that, Batelco (aka Fashelco) decided to “look nice” but the process resulted in it receiving some deserved ridicule.


[email protected] connected

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This post will be a running record of my experience with [email protected] and compare that with Batelco’s offering as I experience it on a daily basis.

They have just connected the equipment at home and it’s working. I didn’t do any tweaks or fine-tuning (if there are any, let me know please) so it’s a raw connection. The antenna is turned toward Saar which is about 3 kilometres away rather than the tower immediately opposite our house, a mere 20 meters, because the latter has not been switched on yet for some reason.

I’ve done some very quick preliminary tests on the connection immediately they installed it through dslreports.com and the efficiency is much better than Batelco. I’ll post a comparison this evening when I get home.

For now, here’s the (frustrating) results we get at the office this afternoon. There is no other user on the network other than me running the tests:

batelco adsl efficiency chart

Dispicable isn’t it?

Note that the last two upload figures were tagged as possibly the upload has signs of being compressed, so those last two figures should be disregarded. But to get an average download efficiency of just 37% on average for all the servers is diabolical, especially when we are assured time and again that as a business tariffed customer, we get better contention ratio, which means that we should average much better than this crap with Batelco, but what we end up with is a ridiculous download speed of 330kbps.

When you go to the average upload speed, the real thing I was suffering from since the weekend as I couldn’t upload the daily M.Report (thanks Fashelco!), the efficiency there is a mere 23%! That means the connection – if it was running at all – was running at approximately 58kbps!

This situation is actually endemic as well, we have never enjoyed a “proper” – okay, anything better than 50% efficiency – with Batelco in the office, ever.

Dial-up speeds for BD125 ($330) anyone?

Let me test the [email protected] for a few months and if it proves good enough, then you can guess what my next step is going to be. But its early days yet. I’ll keep a beedy eye on [email protected] and let you know my experiences with it.


Ma fee bandwidth

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Thanks to Batelco, we’re on restricted rations in the house since the 14th, when they told us that our allocation of bandwidth has been exceeded and we have to live on food stamps until the 3rd of next month when they will be benevolent enough to give us full speed again, for a couple of weeks at the most, and then go into this cycle once again.

You know why this sucks? This is one of the reasons:

no bandwidth, batelco strikes again

Trying to upload a 12 minute video takes upwards of 3 hours. For just 150MB file, it has to be overnight, and then I come to check on it and the number of minutes remaining hardly have changed.

I’ll have to go to the office this morning to upload it, the uplink speed is just a miserable 256kbps, but it’s still better than the throttled bandwidth we have here.

I can’t wait for Zain to finish the installation at home. I’ve got my own electrician coming this morning to route the cable which was too difficult for Zain’s contractor, after which I hope they will come soon enough to do the equipment connections etc. Hopefully then with higher speeds (4x as much as I’ve got at home now) and with the larger bandwidth (again 4x as much as we “enjoy” at the moment) for just 40% more money, we can actually do this vlogging without busting a few blood vessels!