Zain 4G / LTE Rant

It seems I wasn’t the only one noticing that as of the last few months my Zain LTE Router is no where near what it used to be.

People may say that 4G does it for them, its good for quick browsing and going through normal internet usage, but not heavy duty lifting, not major downloading or gaming what so ever.

Below is the full comment of Tenthfire that really broke down all the issues I was facing as well as details that I honestly didn’t delve into.

I am very disappointed with Zain LTE this year with their approach on their internet. If you check the highway their advertisement was “extremely fast speed and good for gaming” or some similar words.

This year Zain LTE decided to buy cheaper routers compared to last year. These new routers are extremely worse than because that their range is 2/4 compared to the one 1 year ago. The router malfunctions more and the chip is much worse than before. I have to say that 0 tests were made on the router.

I will try not to go into details, but if you play League of Legends, Dota, WOW, Diablo, etc do not get this router as it is extremely unstable.
Last year being one of the first people to have Zain LTE in the country with the modem + 80GB limit (now increased to 300G in 2014) I will tell you my experience.
Usually my ping in gaming is 180-1000. Mostly 180-400 which is extremely unplayable and you get frustrated.

I managed to figure an IP that had a more stable ping than others and managed to configure my router with minimum traffic and to get IP, getting 130-140 ping.
On 2014 they changed router and chip and also programmed their servers in an extremely poor way where it rejected people with old routers / chips. This caused a massive amount of disconnection and customer service have no way of helping you. The people on customer service have no idea how internet work or what the basics of latency are.

Anyways on 2014 I got a new contract hoping that their internet will get better. They increased the limit from 80GB–> 300GB which is amazing.
Zain LTE, however, after a few months starting in March decided to cancel 3G service , so now all cell phones are forced to get 4G LTE.
There is an increased pressure on 4G LTE and the server is extremely over used. The speed went around 3GB / slower per 4 months.
I am sad to say that now the speed of Zain LTE at 3.14.2014 with tests is 5-12 GB/ second on download and less than 10GB in upload from the normal standard which was 40GB+.
IF you buy a normal DSL your ping / internet will be more stable and faster.
I have done some tests on certain IP : 149.147.19.119 37.37.162.104 37.36.132.137 31.203.192.129 37.203.192.129 37.39.173.140 188.236.211.62 188.236.37.152
and many more.

I also made a list of the problems Zain 4G LTE service is having from 2014 (especially Feb and March):
1. Assigning two people the same “IP ” (usually when several computers connect to a router they are given different “IP”).
This is bad, because if that person with the same “IP” downloads something your speed will get slower and if you’re gaming you will lag.
2. Disables Youtube Comments and enables Safety Mode.
This is an extremely annoying problem only seem from their filter / internet problem. Youtube loads extremely slow as well and a lot of problems.
3. Unable to browser specific websites from an “error” which can be solved by turning off your router for 30 seconds – 2 minutes.
This gets annoying when I have to close my router to access sites like XXX website because the router is “stuck” and it happens a lot. Sometimes it gets me an error while going on google. This is only with their service. I have tried normal DSL and other internet services which are much better.
4. As I said before their router radius is extremely low and signal level affects ping.
Radius is usually 0.5 floorX 0.80 floor (LXW) meaning it is worse than any other types.
5. Router shutdowns if you download 3 things simultaneously.
Lets say I download 3 from Itunes 3GB each I can crush my router and their server. It will build up some level of “clog” on that IP address that it will be slow. You will need to change your IP address.

Their simple network structure is sad and if I was to rate it from 1-10 I would give it 0.
I do not recommend this internet for any person who wants a stable network or for gaming. I do not recommend 4G LTE from any company as it is extremely unstable and fails to bring minimum international standards. Calling this network 4G LTE is a simple joke.
This is only 1/5 of the server problems I see. If I was to include more problems on their server and networks it would be extremely cruel.

How they can solve most problems:
1-Fix network stability ( I believe a multi-million dollar company can figure out how to do this).
2-Do not overload yourself with people when your network is extremely weak.
3-Offer certain configuration for gamers.
4-Fix disconnection problems.
5-Find a better engineer for your routers and their components.
6-Do more testing on your routers before buying them from China.

DDoS Attacks On Torrent Sites

I kept wondering why the hell my torrent sites kept going down, and a few were down for a few days, at first I thought it was simple server issue, but when it happened to a few of them for more then a few days, I knew something else was going on, and in this case a DDoS attack seemed to be the most likely perpetrator.

The MPAA has been known to hire outside companies to perform DDoS attacks on torrent sites over the past few years and some of it has been successful. But this time around it seems to be a whole other type of DDoS attack, based on an NTP protocol which can be explained much better and more info can be found at Reddit as to what exactly is going on.

Link: Cloudflare Article

Hopefully site admins can figure out how to best handle this so our favorite sites don’t go down so easily or for such a lengthy amount of time, and in my case I need to watch my shows.

Wataniya Telecom – Finally 4G

Wataniya4G

Wataniya has finally fully rolled out their 4G Network and they improved their normal Data network. With new life breathed into their network, it feels normal and useable at this stage. I have been using it for the last couple of weeks and every week I can see an improvement with more 4G coverage on a weekly basis which I’m liking very much.

On a normal test my speeds vary from 2 bars to 5 bars signal:

  • 12 Mb/s to 43 Mb/s

These are respectable numbers and reasonably solid, not my connection spotify as I drive along the highway is pretty constant with no cut outs. I hope Wataniya keeps going at this rate to keep improving their networks. They did launch the new Galaxy Note 3 with the LTE Package and they are fully supporting Android Devices, they even just had a Google event with the people from Google talking about the new software and hardware developments coming along, very nicely done. Their network has a few spots around town the need to be filled but its a good effort on their end and we are finally seeing progress on their network. The funny part is that 4G is working only for Android devices and not Apple Devices yet, that will be coming along somewhere in mid to end of December for Apple, now who’s laughing.

iPad Air in Kuwait

iPad2013_3

The iPad air has made it’s way to Kuwait and it is flying off the shelves. Now the iPad Mini 2 is up for sale on Apple as of a few days ago but hasn’t made it to Kuwait yet. As usual there are few stores that have it in stock and Blink is on top of it.

Blink.com.kw – iPad Air

  • 16 GB Wifi – 165 KWD
  • 32 GB Wifi – 219 KWD
  • 64 GB Wifi – 259 KWD
  • 128 GB Wifi – 295 KWD
  • 16 GB 4G – 219 KWD

Pricing in Kuwait ranges from 15% to 30% more then the Apple Store prices but that isn’t too bad considering that 10-15 KWD would be attributed to shipping, and we would still be cheaper then buying it in the UK. I for one am going to wait for the iPad Mini 2 because it has all the specifications and features that I want.

DropBox – Personal or Business

DropboxLogo

Dropbox is the prominent cloud storage solution, they started it and took it another level because they got integrated into both Microsoft Windows & Apple OSX as well as mobile phones making things work seamlessly providing backup of data especially on your phones.

I use it a lot personally for productive items or just fun stuff and also I have basically moved my all my work files to dropbox so it isn’t dependent on a machine and I basically don’t have to worry about it. And I’m luckily that I did that since my work laptop decided to give up on life recently so having all the most recent files with all information on another machine instantly made things that much easier.

DropBoxBusiness

I use it for all kinds of work and sharing files with people and keeping the latest version. I have the 100 GB plan and an extra 80 GB because of my HTC One & Samsung phones previously. Now Dropbox has a pro plan for 100 GB, 200 GB, & 500 GB for personal use and in my case the 200 GB would be enough but what I have will work for a while longer.

They recently introduced the updated Dropbox Business which has an admin control as well as different options for use depending on your company’s needs. The best package runs at $795 for 5 people with unlimited storage with a ridiculous amount of features, full control over types of files and how they can be viewed or shared and what can be done with them and recovering previous versions. And especially now that Dropbox has made it possible for you to have both a personal and business account on your machine or phone with the new updates. For certain companies this makes total sense, especially graphic media companies or ones that have a lot of important files that needs to be backed up in a secure way.

I like the progress that dropbox is making and especially that all my photos are backed up online and I try and use it when ever I can. I have a GoogleDrive & SkyDrive accounts but those I use only about 20% of the time, more SkyDrive then GoogleDrive because GoogleDrive needs to be more flexible.

HAILO – The Experience

HAILO3

For the last couple of years there were different applications that came out for Black Cabs, and finding a cab or quick transprotation is London is always a gamble. There have been times where I ended up walking over an hour heading home instead of finding a cab in the rain or on a Friday night. Other Apps came out but they were hit or miss, and always searching for vehicles which drove me nuts.

CRWH8N

Hailo is different then the pack, it is extremely easy to use and secure with cash or credit payment option when requesting the blackcab, so even if you don’t have your wallet or cash on you, you can just charge it to your card which is registered to your Hailo account. The application is both on Android and iOS so anyone could use it.

HAILO1

The application opens up to your location and you can search for black cabs right away, when it finds a few usually there are anywhere from 3 to 10, you click yes and the closest one or the one that is free first will confirm. They will give you an update on the amount of time, anywhere between 4 minutes up to 20 minutes and usually they are perfectly on time and you can track their progress on your Hailo App.

The best part is that the Cabbie is there to pick you up and can only start the meter with you in it. Once the ride is done you pay the normal fare with a minimum fare starting at 10 & 15 GBP depending on the time of day. Overall it is a very simple experience even when they pick you up from a busy location like a restaurant or the movie theater, they have your name and your confirmation number when they come to pick you up. Each cab has a Hailo sticker on it to make it easy to identify.

HAILO4

The experience is very simple,easy and straight forward, and once the cab ride is done you rate your cab driver. And I have given mine 5 stars because they pick me up on time and get me where I need to go making it for a pleasent and easy experience. I seriously love this application, no more major issues and has worked perfectly every time I use it, even when I don’t find a cab I try it again and it works perfectly.

Currently its Running in:

  • London
  • Dublin
  • Toronto
  • Chicago
  • Boston

Opening Soon In:

  • New York
  • Tokyo
  • Washington DC
  • Cork
  • Madrid
  • Barcelona

There are some cities like Amsterdam, Frankfurt, Tokyo, Singapore, and London which I would happily get in the cab because they are genuinely great cabs which are comfortable, but Cabs in the US are usually pretty bad, the crown victorias or not maintained vehicles, when I use vehicles in the US I use the Uber App for private driver who usually have decent vehicles like an Escalade or a vehicle like that when in New York or LA.

Link: HailoCab

HAILO5

4G Coverage – GCC

KuwaitTelecoms

Kuwait is one of the first conutries to roll out full 4G coverage, and we are tough customers, I honestly was very critical and abusing it when possible and it has survived my torment and still it is doing well.

4G in the GCC & UK are the same and I’m assuming the Europe would be the same as UK in regards to 4G specifications. But the coverage across Europe is spotty at best. I was in Germany and drove a good amount outside and inside of Frankfurt to see how it works, then there was Amsterdam which we extensively used their network. The connections weren’t that great, and sometimes very disappointing, surprisingly Amsterdam was much better then Frankfurt in terms of coverage.

4G Coverage in Kuwait is fantastic in comparison to Europe, it seems that Europe has fallen back in comparison to us. Our terrestrial data speeds are a disappointment in Kuwait and improvement does’t look like it will happen any time soon, they have been talking about Fiber for the good part of a decade now. But due to this lack of development the wireless data providers have stepped in and so 4G such as Zain, Viva, and Soon to be Wataniya are providing for what the customers are asking for.

Kuwait is even better then the UAE in this aspect, Etisalat has coverage but the speeds are honestly crap and even much worse when you head out of Dubai with little to no coverage, and Du is worse then Etisalat in this regard. It seems that we are more then a step ahead of Europe and Kuwait is leading the pack in GCC. And I have yet to see someone in the GCC to match our coverage and overall speeds, we are spoiled and I honestly hope we have more developments in regards to wireless & LTE internet.

Link: Flickr

Vodafone UK – 4G

Vodafone

All the Providers are talking about their 4G Coverage in London. Of course the 4G Services is only available to Contract numbers, not Pay As You Go or Top Up lines. In my case I have a contract line and upgraded to 4G contectivity with a max of 8GB per month for 36 GB per month, you can change from month to month, but only stay on 4G.

I was happy and thought I would get the same service as I do in Kuwait. At full signal I was getting 50+ MB/s which was impressive. Out of all the companies – EE, Orange, O2, Vodafone, & 3 – I read that Vodafone has the best 4G coverage in London as well as the fastest.

It seems their definition of coverage is similar to swiss cheese, lots of holes in the network. 4G was fine as long as I had 4G coverage, spotty would be putting it nicely. The coverage in London’s main metropolitan area is a disaster. Every building I go into, there is almost little to no coverage, and even when we are outisde it is max one or two bars. Rarely do I see full bars, I don’t know how they planned their coverage but Vodafone falls far behind Zain or any of our Mobile Companies in Kuwait. Zain has spoilt us, our expectations are too high.

WIMD – Constant Service

WIMD

With the introduction of Zain’s 4G Router people had options for their homes and remote locations. 4G has drastically changed people’s options, even with the caps it isn’t too bad. But at this point the links have gotten somewhat saturated still it’s faster then land lines, you get between 10 to 20 MB on a constant level when nobody’s online you might get 25 to 30 MBs.

For my case I can only get up to 0.5 MB on my land line so that isn’t an option and fiber has been promised since 2008 and I wouldn’t be holding my breath for that. WIMD has been the best and most consistent option for me, they are company who are genuinely trying to improve their services.

I have had a 20 MB subscription with them since they first opened over a year and a half ago and after about a year it would get as far as 14 MB and wouldn’t come close to 20 MB. That was after February when my subscription was renewed. The service would go down every once in a while but no longer then 30 minutes at most and their support is very responsive. But that happens at most once a week sometimes the whole month is fine.

In June of this year I was contacted by WIMD Sales for my 20 MB Subscription to reduce it to the 15 MB Subscription since they couldn’t retain the 20 MB Speed, and they refunded my the difference right away, even discounting the period from February until June which is very surprising for an ISP. So instead of the 1250 KWD that I paid, they refunded me the difference of 400 KWD down to 850 KWD even though it has been four months since the subscription started. Then on top of that since June onwards my connection which would hit between 16 to 18 MB on downloads consistently without any issues.

They do have some technical issues but they are working through it and the issues aren’t repeated, they are growing their bandwidth because the service speeds in my case has improved. And their service has been constant, unlike what I have seen from Mada who came out strong out of the gate but invested in the wrong technology and failed to improve upon it, ending up with some very crappy services. In my opinion WIMD has excellent service and for some people I know they have had bad experiences because of their location, but in my case honestly it has been fantastic and I hope they keep this up and gain more subscribers because of it.

Zain 7 KD – Data Roaming

Zain

There has been a package for GCC Data Roaming since the beginning of the year by Zain. Sometimes it works with the carrier and sometimes it doesn’t, but I would say that it works 70% of the time which is pretty good. 150MB for 7 KD across the GCC which I thought was perfect, honestly you don’t use too much and it doesn’t cost as much as a car if you use too much data, I remember some bills going over a 1000 KWD because of mistakes with billing which are insane. So these packages for data roaming are reasonable if you didn’t purchase a local land line.

To my surprise when I went to London they also had a 7KD package but it was for 100 MB on Vodafone, honestly that wasn’t too bad. I was pleasantly surprised about it. I switched on my data roaming and within minutes it was working on Vodafone’s network in London, truth be told Vodafone’s network isn’t too great but no one really is in London. But it was just enough data to get WhatsApp working as well as a few emails through as needed, it does the job and I’m happy they are making these deals with other telecom companies, at least now Zain is taking advantage of their size and influence and working out deals with other telecom companies to benefit the customer. I’m not sure if that package works for all of Europe or not, but those people traveling during Eid will know when they get there.