ISP & Internet Connectivity Kuwait 2012

Over the last year there has been a dramatic change with the telecommunication companies and luckily in Kuwait we have companies changing and increasing their services. I have had extensive experience with several companies over the past 18 months, some have been very good, some have been bad, and some disastrous. These are my rankings based on my experience, data usage, and customer service. I have left out pricing since all the wired companies are offering the same price and the rest can be found out easily. This isn’t a comparison based on price but based on experience and service level. I broke down the categories into two, one is based totally on speed and connectivity, and the other is based on interaction with the sales and customer support.

WIRED
Data Connectivity

  • Fasttelco
  • Qualitynet
  • Kems
  • GulfNet

Customer Service

  • Fasttelco
  • QualityNet
  • Kems/GulfNet

Comments: Fasttelco has improved vastly over the last few years and what I like is that they keep trying to improve their customer service and improving themselves technically. QualityNet has gotten complacent since they got to the top, its like they are full and don’t feel like giving good customer service. Kems is pretty bad in my opinion because they still somewhat constrict usage from what I can see, and they insulted customers directly last year, complete slander and that is the worst for a company. GulfNet is still at the bottom of the barrel I don’t know how anyone can sign up with them, zero customer service and they blatantly lie about their services. Prices have been unified and connection speed is based on government services and not the ISPs, they can only work with what they have so really its based on consistent speed and customer service.

WIRELESS
Data Connectiivty

  • WIMD
  • MADA

Customer Service

  • WIMD
  • MADA

Comments: WIMD is brand new company but overall my experience has been very good with them even though its only been a few weeks. I hope they continue to maintain their services and speeds as they currently are, right now I am very happy with them. Right now their install schedule seems to be very slow since they were overwhelmed with requests from people but I think if you are patient with them you will be happy you installed their services. MADA was a great service when it initially started and they are genuinely trying to maintain their services, and for 20KD a month its relatively cheap for 10 MB but in reality you are getting a range from 2MB to 7MB these days. They got too many subscribers and their main towers are too sensitive in regards to your location, you have to be next to the window to get full signal and 2KM from the tower to get any speed, and any modification on their part can affect your speed drastically. Overall I think they are very good and hope that they improve their services.

MOBILE
Data Connectivity

  • Viva
  • Zain
  • Wataniya

Customer Service

  • Zain/Wataniya
  • Viva

Comments: There has always been a scuffle going on between the three mobile providers in Kuwait, they are always in competition which is good for us. Over the last two years there has been some drastic changes in regards to services in the data field. When it comes to Voice Wataniya would be ranked by far at the top, then its Zain, and if you can get in more then 20 seconds into a phone call with Viva I would be surprised. When it comes to Data Viva threw all their money at it and have one of the best data networks, with Zain and Wataniya trailing behind them. Wataniya and Zain need to upgrade their data networks to deploy something faster and better reaching, and I hope at some point they both remove their Data Caps but I can understand it. As for Viva they got a lot of people to sign contracts and join them up with the unlimited package only to enforce a data cap and change the contracts without notification which is illegal in my opinion, I’m surprised nobody sued them.

Fasttelco – All Data Caps Have Been Lifted

Ethernet

The first of the ISPs to come to their senses from this debacle, after a little digging both from the commercial and technical side Fasttelco are not applying any Data Caps, none what so ever, not even throttling torrents at this point. At first I wasn’t sure but from two different sources I thought it might be true, then I thought to test it out to verify the information. It seems something official might come out soon but at this point this is what I have managed to dig up and I hope they continue on this route.

I have started a 200 GB download plus one steam update and several other machine updates to test my Fasttelco 4MB Connection. I’m at 42 GB since I heard the news and it still fluctuating between 380 KBs to 490 KBs which is pretty good and I hope it holds at that. So it seems to be true at this point, I’m running Torrents, FTP, Software Patches and normal surfing, and everything seems to be working.

I was initially singled out by Kems for being an abuser even though I have been a loyal customer even at their very expensive days, and when they increased their prices. But it seems they seem to be stuck on Caps and continuing to apply it.

QualityNet has removed the meter from their login screen so you can’t tell if you hit your daily cap or not but they won’t clearly answer if it has been removed. I managed to hit the caps every once in a while whenever I go on my downloading binge.

As I said before the MoC is just as much as fault as the ISPs, and the announcement made months ago by the MoC and the Member’s of Parliament is just BS as usual and I didn’t expect much from it. It sort of “I will believe it when I see it” type of situation. Even when you tell ISPs that the MoC said they were supposed to stop all sorts of Caps from 1st of August as promised from the front pages of Al Watan Newspaper, Al Aqabas Newspaper, and Al Rai Newspaper, they just tell you that it was just an article in a newspaper and no law has been enacted and the ISPs were not contacted. The MoC promised to lower prices to ISPs so that in return they would lower their prices but that hasn’t happened yet either.

  • Fasttelco – No Caps
  • QualityNet – Still applying Caps
  • Kems – Caps still seemed to be applied
  • GulfNet – Still crap and the worst of the bunch, avoid them even if your connection is free
  • Mada – No Caps and I hope that continutes

More will be forthcoming in another post.

The ISPs and Ministry of Communication

LiberationTower

There is a dirty battle going on between the Ministry of Communication and the Internet Service Providers in Kuwait. People have always been supportive of the ISPs and we never really said anything about their charges even though we knew they were ludicrous.

User MoC Issues

The Ministry Of Communication is the main source of the issue with a lot of issues that we face in Kuwait. The limited capability of our lines for DSL services is because they haven’t upgraded since the 1970s and fiber optic cables is no where in sight. So no matter what ISP you go with there is always have a limit some people have it at 2 MB and some at 10 MB it depends on the quality of your copper line and how far you are from the MoC Hub in your area. So what ever maximum speed you can reach isn’t really the fault of the providers and applaude them for working with what they have and bring technology that can give us better speed for the quality of lines that we have.

ISP MoC Issues

The only connectivity to Kuwait is via the Ministry of Communication, you don’t have any other option to connect to the outside worlds and this what the ISPs have to work with. And because the MoC hasn’t gone on the initiative to bring more major fiber cables to Kuwait we don’t have the increase to satisfy the requirements. Basically these guys have been too lazy to attend the meetings and they could have easily turned Kuwait into an internet hub, it wouldn’t have taken too much effort. Instead we were stuck with this capacity for over two years now with no progress really in sight to increase it because they didn’t plan ahead. With all this the MoC is charging the ISPs taxes and exuberant prices that they do not like and thus they are passing it along to us. The cost of the internet in many countries across the world which you can see from 360 Dewan’s post

Price Unification

Now this is the first step the ISPs took this year that shocked a lot of people, we always wait for InfoConnect to get the best pricing but this time around all the prices across the board were increased by 100%. The big four players sat down and agreed on prices across the table with minor differences between them, which is basically price fixing and it is illegal in many countries but it has passed in Kuwait.

Data Caps

Because of the issues faced by the ISPs with the MoC they decided to take another tactic to try get users worked up. The ISPs don’t want to fight or get into any argument with the MoC as they can make their lives a living hell, instead they make our lives a living hell so we can in turn do that to the MoC and complain enough so that action is taken on their end. The ISPs want the MoC to lower their prices and the only way they can do that is to get the Users riled up to storm into the MoC and then and only then they would make changes that the ISP want.

When they stated that the Data Caps were from the Ministry of Communication it was a complete lie to get people off their backs. Data Caps do help the ISPs they make more money and you get a lot more less usage which is basically robbery plain and simple. The ISPs also state they are doing this because of the “Abusers” which is ridiculous because very few people use their internet connection 24/7, I for one download a lot but I added it up to about 8 days out of the month where I do major downloading and the rest of the time its just updates, programs, gaming, surfing, and streaming which in reality you hit the Data Cap in mere hours not even the amount you really require or are paying for.

What they are also trying to do with these Data Caps is target Building and Business Owners who use a residential line to get internet service and pay for lower pricing but really abuse the hell out of the connection. They want to target these people and limit their usage and have them move to business plans and pay a higher price because of their heavy usage. Your talking about buildings with 20 users on one 4MB connection or a company with 25 users with a 2 MB connection, and to them the connection is being used too much too consistently. And this problem isn’t for us normal people to pay for, we pay our fees and expect a service, not to be restricted from it.

They talk about Data Caps in Europe and in other countries, that does happen but in those countries the users pay about 5 to 10% of the amounts we pay, I used to pay $1200 per year for 20 MB connection in 2004 which was excessive but that is 350 KD but in Kuwait you pay 350 KD for 3 to 4 MB connection depending on the company, and for a 20 MB connection you would have to pay around 1500 KWD per year. And we haven’t complained about the pricing as long as we are getting the service.

What is ILLEGAL at this Point?

Price Fixing – Sitting between the competition and deciding to increase prices across the board for the same product is illegal on every level.

Data Caps – Changing the terms and conditions of the service without notification, and everyone literally just renewed their service in the last 5 months.

What We Need?

We need a TRA or Telecommunication Regulatory Agency, a independent agency that will govern the ISPs and Telecom companies. Oman, Bahrain, Emirates and even Saudi Arabia has one and you don’t want to cross these agencies as they have the power to fine the companies and suspend their services based on their actions. Such the as the case with Batelco and the Bahrain TRA and STC and the Saudi TRA when they took actions that were deemed illegal they were fined heavily and it hurt. Ind our case Kuwait’s ISPs aren’t afraid because they would never get fined or no real damage would happen, and the letter from MoC doesn’t really scare them, they have had lots of those.

We need clear fines to be defined for their actions over the last few months and it should be made clear that they can’t make changes to the user’s contract except until the contract ends which in our case is 1 year from now and Data Caps should be made illegal because this isn’t the service we are paying for, we are paying for speed and no the limitation of usage. Now it seems the ISPs are selling Data Amounts and not really speeds and soon they will come up with an insane package and even worse pricing to get us to pay for the Data amounts we want.

FAP YOU KEMS

KEMSFacebook

“Jimmar Baka >> Kems – is pretty disappointed with freakin FAP… hope something happens to all the ISPs in Kuwait”

I have been out all day for the last 24 hours between work, meetings, and family social events only to come back home to find that KEMS mentioning my posts and linking me to “Abusers”, these “Abusers” who are early adopters of internet, these “Abusers” who paid the ridiculous prices from early 2000 until now, from corporate to residential. They have even gone as far as blaming me for the slow speeds and high latency across their network

I am one of the earliest users of KEMS when they first started accepting home users, in addition to giving them numerous glowing reviews and recommendations (http://www.zdistrict.com/?s=kems). I honestly find it INFURIATING that ISPs take their clients so lightly and changing the service they promised their clients. I have paid for and renewed my service for an 8MB connection, not some time, not half the time, all the time. And they have chosen to single me out as an internet abuser; and going as far as claiming they are going to terminate me and ban me from renewing.

What the person that posted this comment on behalf of #KEMS fails to realize that in the past I have always recommended my corporate accounts to utilize #KEMS due to their strong support, even when priced higher than local competition. I don’t understand how KEMS can make accusations about its customers without considering the implications it has to their core business. To the person who posted the comment on behalf of KEMS, please go ahead and terminate my connections in addition to my corporate accounts.

First they claim to have implemented the FAP policy to reduce prices, increase speeds and lower latency. Now after castrating our internet connections to 10% of its actual capability; they now plan on implementing a ‘super user’ account without limits for residential user and creating a ‘bandwidth bank’ for people to purchase additional bandwidth.

Keep in mind that KEMS just won a tender from the Ministry of Oil to provide Data Connectivity to their employees at a very reduced rate. Meaning someone in a Managerial or Team Leader level can get 8 MB connectivity for 150 KD for the year at home. It is part of the package that KEMS gave to the Oil Companies such as KOC or KNPC or KPC, that as well as connecting all the major buildings between each other and abroad, that they also provide connectivity to the Oil Company Employees at a VERY reduced level WITHOUT CAPS. So KEMS is selling their service in bulk to a ministry for a lot cheaper than they are selling to individuals, as well as providing individuals with connectivity which is also without CAPS as per their tender agreement. It seems they honor their agreements with governments but they couldn’t care less about their contracts with their customers.

While neighboring GCC countries are striving to deliver 100mbit service to their customers. Our providers are trying to squeeze out every fils out of our pockets. It’s really a shame that our local companies have created an oligopoly to rip-off their customers while the MOC is doing nothing to prevent the cartels from increasing prices and setting caps.

Data Cap Testing – Kems

I tried complaining to Kems Technical and Sales regarding the Data Caps and they didn’t mention this when I renewed my account for a year about a month ago. I paid 575 KD for an 8 MB connection, I told them that I was not informed of these Caps when I first renewed my service, it should not be applied at all. They said they might remove daily caps next month and just keep them as monthly caps. With 8 MB I have a 8GB Cap per day and per month it would be 240 GB, then they told me that the monthly Cap would be 200 GB not 240 GB, it doesn’t add up. I was on the phone for over 20 minutes talking from one useless person to the next which really got annoying. I decided to test the Caps as soon as I got home.

I started downloading about 80 GB worth of shows and thought let me test what would happen and when it would get back to normal. After 27 GBs and the Cap still wasn’t applied, it didn’t drop down to 25% of the speed, it was still downloading between 750 Kbps to 920 Kbps, so I will see what happens further.

Qnet & Kems Connection

Qnet0210

QualityNet

I have upgraded my DSL account with qualitynet to the MAX Dsl package, which ranges from 5 to 24 MB. Basically it goes to the maximum capacity of your line and I am very happy with this package. Especially that the prices have dropped drastically over the years and Qualitynet leading the pack with the price drop.

Qualitynet does have its issues but their service is solid with me, and it seems if they don’t have any MOC issues then the connection works perfectly. When there is an MOC issue you are out of luck and most the time it won’t be resolved and you are stuck with what you have, the problem is that once that happens you have already paid for your connection and are stuck with it. But in my case these lines seem to be solid for now, sometimes the MOC does mess things up.

As of right now my download speeds are ranging from 1090 KB/s to 1210 KB/s which is fantastic compared to my previous connection. This connection have been consistently stable, and it has reduced my download time of large files by 20%.

Kems0210

Kems

My Kems connection was upgraded to the maximum possible speed of the line which is around 7MB, and at this speed I’m downloading from 780 KB/s to 920 KB/s. Kems has the best technical support I have seen from any ISP, the guy on the other side of the phone knows what he is talking about and can help solve the question or give you a realistic answer which helps not to frustrate you more when there is a problem.

After making the payment I get an sms two days later stating that my service has been upgraded and it is now active which went very smoothly. In this case it was 40% more expensive then the Qualitynet connection but this is the maximum capability of the this current line. Oddly enough I bought this line over two years ago and its of lower quality then the line we have had for 30 years and can support much higher speeds. Between the two ISPs Kems seems to have a better consistent upload speed, and this has been my experience with it.

InfoConnect ISP Pricing

NetworkCables

Thanks to UpTill1 I manage to see the pricing before heading over to InfoConnect to renew my internet service. Its the best time and best pricing, I have two connections at home, Qnet and Kems, I am happy with both ISPs and Kems still ranks #1 for customer support and resolving issues. I paid 720 KD to Qnet for a 7 MB connection and 299 KD for a 2MB connection for a Kems connection, but not it seems the price have been really reduced, its also due to them optimizing their networks.

ISP Ranking:

  • Kems – Best Support
  • Qnet – Best Pricing
  • Fastelco – Best Improvement overall this year
  • Gulfnet – Don’t even bother with them, the worst service possible

I have gone ahead with the Max DSL package from Qnet which ranges from 5MB to 24MB, the stipulation is that it will go to the maximum of line not reduced whenever they feel like it as I have 7MB currently and want faster. Its really worth it for 420 KD and my line supports 11MB so it will be a significant improvement, this increase is supposed to take place by Monday at the maximum so I will test it then.

Now for Kems I have a 2MB connection and I want to upgrade since their prices are very reasonable right now, for 399 KD I can have 4MB or for 599 KD I can have 8 MB. The combination of these two networks would be very much a reality with the ftp downloads at full throttle. I have managed to use each one for a purpose but the packages are enticing.

Tech Overload – 5 Hour Trouble Shooting

networkswitchdnso

This is probably the most intense network trouble shooting I have done in my life. I have spares for most situations, back up plans, and tools ready to go but what happened to me confused the hell out of me.

Problems:

  • Network Went Down, No Internet (Kems Connection)
  • Internal Network was inaccessible as well

Possible Issues:

  • External Issue with Internet – Internet Down
  • Modem could be malfunction – Internal Network Issues

Solutions:

  • Kems to Solve Issue
  • Replace Modem
  • Replace Switch

PS3SlimBunker 004

What Happened:

I changed both the modem first and I was still facing issues, I redid the external wiring from MOC into the house and installed the best connectors and cleanest route and still faced the same issue. Then I installed the modem, configured it which got complete and it was connecting but packets were bouncing. Basically I was also going nuts not being able to access my tv shows, movies and anime, it was cutting off so it wasn’t watchable. Since the internal network was still facing problems I installed a new switch to see if that was the issue, even though it was working fine for over two years.

So replacing the modem didn’t help, replacing the switch didn’t help, rewiring the external telephone line didn’t help. So the next step was cable testing but I didn’t have the equipment, so KEMS sent their engineer to test everything out but any work was sent by an external company recommend by Kems and they did the work. We went through and tested over 23 different Cat-6 Cables on three different floors to find that issue was that with the two networks the computer face an issue with a conflict of an internal router addresses so I redid that. We tested every cable and arranged every one of them once we test each one, one by one and cleared it, one cable was causing an issue and the switch was facing an issue whenever we connected it, I’m not sure how it went bad. After 5 hours of testing and going through everything and slowly getting everything up, the machines all worked at last.

Conclusion:

  • KEMS support is the best in Kuwait
  • Make sure to check router main address whenever configuring the modem, conflicts from the modem can cause major problems.
  • Label cables for easy trouble shooting. I have a spaghetti for a network even though in my head it was all completely logical.

Network Merge

I’m getting closer and closer to getting the network setup the way I want. I currently just received the Netgear FVS336G which will perform as an load balancing for both my ISPs.

The problem I’m having with my ADSL routers is that they won’t be able to be able to sustain this connections for a long time, and I need to restart them every once in a while, and if they are under pressure then they hang. I have a Thompson from Qnet, and Linksys from Kems but I needed to upgrade them. Going on a recommendation from a friend I am trying to find two Cisco 837 ADSL routers to use which will perform perfectly for my needs.

Link: Netgear