Zain 4G – Home Router – Saturation

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As I expected, since iPhone 5’s have gotten on the 4G network and now other Android phones it seems that its taking a toll on the data bandwidth available. The first tests were insanely fast but now these days there is a bit of a lag and the ping isn’t as fast, its 4G and you get between 10 MB to 15 MB, not the 40+ MB that we were expecting and were excited about. Overall I think that Zain has done a decent job handling the large influx of people, people will pay for service and overall the service is consistent for our use and its portable which is the important part, they are increasing coverage all over Kuwait. After getting the coverage I want them to bring back the bandwidth to what it used to be, but honestly I think its a solid product and I enjoy using it.

ZAIN Spam Messages

The one thing that I loved about GMail from day one is we stopped getting spam, with yahoo it was getting bad and with hotmail it was basically garbage getting dumped on you. With Google they caught 99.99982% of all the spam that came out. But when it comes to text messages we get so many random text from shopping extravaganzas to nut case candidates to the randomest things, this is all on my Zain lines. I don’t use text messages as much as used to but seriously they are a major pain with all these spam texts that we get from 88990, 99077, and so many other random numbers, and you are charged for receiving them even when you are abroad. As we were complaining online and included Zain Kuwait in the Twitter conversation they let us know that we could unsubscribe from the Ads via the above text actions but there is a bit of skepticism, so hopefully we can get out of it but lets see for how long. There is no laws regulating how cell phone companies can use our numbers and no real ways for them to check, we are left uninformed of what we can do to protect ourselves from being spammed but this is a decent step in the right direction and lets see how long it will last without ads.

Zain Buying Out Mada

Zain originally has a 40% or 60% stake in Mada Communications, and it seems they are in the works to make it 100% at this stage. Mada has gotten a lot of good press for their WiMax services which they launch just before summer and the turbulent times of the Data Caps. Overall people are happy with their current services with Mada, they do have their issues when they update the towers, some times it increases speeds and sometimes they decrease the speeds drastically. Overall I think they have somewhat evened out, getting between 5 – 8 MB which is honestly really good but not the initial 10 – 11 MB that we used to get. The way their current system works is that they have a unit attached to every Zain Tower in a concentrated area that they cover, and each one has about a 2KM radius, that is why it is very different from location to location. Their Mada also provides other services but thats for corporate services that they give primarily to Zain. So it makes sense that Zain wants to buy them out but the question is will things change for the users?

Now the item in Question… Data Caps?

Since Zain has them, will they be applied under new management, what are exactly the implications we face. I’m not sure if the management will change but I do know how Zain are about their branding, what is theirs has to adhere to their rules. The system that Mada uses won’t put stress on Zain’s current 3G data network so I hope that they would let Mada’s current policies of no capping to continue and hopefully expand on it. Its always good to see services improve and expand and I hope its the case with this.

Review: Zain E-Go 21.6 MB/s

I was contacted by Zain to try out their new 21.6 Mbps E-Go and put it through the loop and see what its all about. The packaging seems to be nice and small, got a post-paid chip to try it out, took it out of the box getting it ready to plug into my HP Mini 5101. Just to keep in mind the 7.2 Mbps connection of Zain would get around 200 ~ 300 Kbps, so I kept this in mind when I was testing it out.

Its the usual plug and play scenario that everyone is used to, and piece of equipment is even a little better with the new setup. Its a sliding USB connection so its nice and compact, this is the Huawei HPSA+ Slider Model, fits nicely in any bag or pocket even. When you plug it in the USB emulates a CD so your software is installed and launched right away. I went into the technical details of it and trying to mess around it a bit, I had a few places in mind to test it out. When I first heard 21.6 Mbps I took it with a bit of skepticism and thought why not try it out and see what results I get.

Plug it in, configured the connection for the 3.5 G connection and went to my FTP Server which is co-hosted in Europe(Secret Location) to see what I could download a few large files and see what I would get in relation to numbers. I picked a 2.4 GB file to download and it started off at 450 Kbps which is faster then a 4MB land connection, I was impressed right away, its faster then the old 7.2 MBps E-Go right away. As I gave it time the speed fluctuated between 480 Kbps to 960 Kbps, and then I took it a step further, I got into my car and start stopping in different locations to test it out from the 6th ring road to Bida’a to Salmiya and back. I was impressed, there is a fluctuation in speed but it held solid between a 4MB to 9MB connection at 4:00 pm on Friday which is peak pressure time on the network, and so I’m assuming that late night surfing or downloading is going to be even faster then that.

This isn’t a long term test, so I’m going to try it a little bit longer to see what else I can get out of it. Now Zain has an excellent product on their hands with the possibility of great service, they will be giving Internet Service Providers a run for their money but they have to do two things, price it at an acceptable price and keep the service level at a high level. (Click on some of the images to get larger version of the graphs)

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Blackberry Javelin @ a Glance

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After having my Blackberry for a couple of weeks at this point, this is a simple evaluation of the Blackberry service and my phone the Blackberry 8900 Javelin. Overall I am happy that I made the switch at this point, I have got an excellent phone and majority of my friends already have it so its simple enough to ask a questions. I have a few essential applications but I’m not planning to install too many.

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The Great Part

  • Bandwidth Optimization – You get connected very quickly and easily, this is without using the 3G network only EDGE for now
  • Overall Cost Reduction – Less calls just BBMs
  • Smooth Operating System – The system of the 8900 Javelin is stable and smooth, much better then the Bold which hangs often with people
  • Great Web Browsing
  • Synced with email – Gmail or otherwise, if you read it in your Blackberry then its read in your Inbox when you open the browser. Connection through IMAP which is setup manually rather then the automated setup which goes through POP
  • Instant and easy connectivity – Everything is updated without a headache, Weather, Google Latitude, Emails, and other things
  • The Battery is decent, compared to the Bold its a lot better. From what I’ve seen with friends the Bold doesn’t always last the whole day sometimes half way through you need to charge it. After about a full 12 hours of usage the Javelin is at about 25% – 30% of its power. This includes messaging all day, on the phone, web surfing, and taking pictures which isn’t too bad. The only thing is that you have to charge it through Mirco-USB

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The Other Side

  • One things is that if you are trying to transmit too much data it doesn’t receive information right away such as sending multiple pictures through BBM, there are a few minutes there when you don’t receive anything but suddenly you get lots of BBMs which were pending
  • BBM – It is one reason to switch to Blackberry if you know enough people who have Blackberry’s and to my surprise I know more people then I thought who have BBs. But the bad part is that if you are used to the instant gratification of this communication system you really get annoyed when the system goes down. It happened once and I was surprised how annoyed I got at the damn phone, SMS just doesn’t cut it anymore

Telecom in Bahrain (Zain & Batelco)

Recently with the GulfRun event and working on a few things there we spent about a week in Bahrain. I had my mobile on roaming while I was there, I tried to keep calls to minimum to keep costs down. We even used walkie talkies when we are walking around on the track or close by because we are usually just locating each other. And as usually Zain charges an arm and a leg even though its the same company in Bahrain, whats funny is that Gulf countries with Zain get a better deal then what we do in Kuwait until recently with the free incoming calls which should have been done a long time ago. During the time we were there we had a choice between Zain and Batelco for network choices even though you get charge the same for international roaming. Whenever I’m on Zain network I always get a busy tone calling any number so I switched to Batelco and my calls & texts went through perfectly every time which is very odd, so whenever you go to Bahrain choose the Batelco network because its the same thing that happened to all other people who were roaming.

Link: Flickr

ZAIN/MTC Roaming Issues

I still say MTC instead of ZAIN all the time, and I think for the past two months a lot of people have been having major issues with MTC/ZAIN. Some major overhaul or major failure is going on and I don’t even have a clue about it.

Network Upgrade/Disruption: I have been roaming with my MTC/ZAIN phone for the past couple of weeks and before that for a few weeks, and its in areas in Europe which have really good signal. For some reason a lot of my phone calls can’t go through and if they do go through they disconnect easily. But when I use the Vodafone chip the line goes through without a hitch and connects very easily and quality of the line is good. I know that some network upgrades are being performed but at the same time network performance has deteriorated dramatically.

Pricing Ridiculousness: I was happy for the first time in decades that MTC/ZAIN sends me a text message for disconnection. Usually when I travel I never use my line outside of the Gulf, and keep it to a minimum but due to the situation I have had to keep it on. MTC has no criteria for price caps and they don’t look at the history of the customer, I have been paying high bills for the past few years yet whenever it goes over a certain amount they always disconnect when I’m abroad but this time they let me know 5 days ahead that they will disconnect so I managed to get it paid. I never use my credit card/check card because they can draw huge sums and not notify you. I’m not the first or last person that will face this problem but MTC/ZAIN over charges for all roaming charges, you might not have used it much but they will charge you more then you did sometimes so its important to find out how much you are really using it and the minutes they are charging you. Keeping an eye on the bill is very important.

Disconnections: I don’t think I can drive from any location in Kuwait to other without getting the conversation disconnected. To the point if I drive to the gas station and back I know that it will disconnect. Its getting to the point that if a phone conversation doesn’t disconnect then something must be wrong, and even paying this much they can’t seem to keep a stable network.

Network Busy: Whenever I’m calling from outside of Kuwait to Kuwait, I get this Network Busy Tone which drives me nuts, and it happens very consistently. I just think that the MTC Roaming service is pretty bad and I have switched to multiple networks and still no hope in the matter.

I think a lot of people are frustrated with MTC/ZAIN at this point because of the lack of service. There have been a improvements but over the past couple of months it has been a downhill. Hopefully it will improve at some point because its getting ridiculous.

 

 

Zain/MTC Roaming Blackout

For some reason I still refer to them as MTC, and I don’t think I will be changing that anytime soon. I have been out of Kuwait for the last few days. Saturday night for about 6 hours nobody in Kuwait could call my Kuwait mobile and I couldn’t call anyone it was really strange. I thought they disconnected my phone because I was roaming and my bill went sky high, but it was only for about 5 days by then, didn’t think it could be so high that they would disconnect it. Even without the blackout the roaming signal was pretty bad, it was really hard to get through sometimes.

Zain Bulk Election Msgs

Getting bulk sms messages get really annoying especially during this election period. I seem to be getting one every 30 minutes about one candidate or the other, it doesn’t matter where you are registered you just keep getting them. This was driving me nuts for the longest time until one comment on pearls blog which solved the issue to a degree.

Text OUT to 90037 ,and you will receive a text message from zain saying “you have been blacklisted from all zain bulk messages” or something similar to that. It isn’t perfect but in one day I received about two to three messages instead of the usual 30 to 40 messages.

Link: Flickr