Qualitynet – Shocking Actions

I Got This Email From A Concerned Reader, Abdulazziz, that this happened to him.

Well i got a phone call from Qualitynet today telling me that they’re cutting my internet because I’m using huge bandwidth the thing is it came out without any warning nor giving me my limits but whats strange was they offered me companies subscription which is 4 times what I’m paying around 1300kd a year while i pay 370kd for 8mb if I’m abuser why did they offered to switch my account why didn’t they warn me instead of telling me that they’re cutting the service and above all that there is no service on their website that shows how many mega bites i used!! so it could be all lies or trap to make people pay more than the amount they’re already paying.

After asking several questions back and forth, and asking a few other people on the inside, it seems Qualitynet is really doing this. I understand some of the ISPs have this “unsaid” rule of capping people a bit if they abuse their network, and I have been categorized by a few ISPs as an abuser but this is ridiculous.

They call a user and tell him he is an abuser and he can only upgrade to a “Company Plan” since he is no longer eligible for a “Individual Plan” which he has paid for in full and doesn’t end until November.

When he asked questions they offered him no explanation as to what are the exact numbers defined in his abuse. He just uses his connection for downloads and surfing, a lot of gaming, and major updates. I don’t think any of those are a real major issue and we all do that, I have several major updates my machines, hell I did a 15 GB patch to one of my games, so how is that defined?

You would think that after the Data Cap issues from last year that QualityNet & Kems started were over and done with and they learned their lessons. But it seems some genius in QualityNet thought to disconnect people for “Abusing” their connections.

Other then this action being very illegal since the user was given no notification, no explanation, and there were no new binding Data Cap agreements after the whole issue last year. He was given an ultimatum, either sign up for the company packages or we will disconnect you. He still has 6 months left on his connection and they aren’t even offering him a refund.

Seriously is anyone in QualityNet thinking, do they really think this is a just action? What happened to all the good guys who used to work their? Care about the users? They used to be internet junkies? Is is just a bunch idiotic accountants cooking up numbers to see how much they can squeeze more profits out of people, so the solution is to disconnect half way and not provide them with the service but keep their money. Its very sad that QualityNet has fallen so low.

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.

Network Rewiring

I have had this on my to do list for over a month now, and instead watching a movie or some anime I decided to work on rewiring my broadband setup since some items have reached the end of their lives and started acting screwy. I ordered a D-Link DSL-2640B to replace both my Thompson (Qualitynet Modem) and Buffalo Airstation Router. I took a look at the area behind my desk and computer and its nothing short of a nightmare to try to figure things out. I had a few items that I wanted to disconnect and rewire but that would require shutting down everything and doing it the right way so I left that for later, just the network cables alone add up to more then a dozen wires. So I unpacked the D-Link modem and powered up to configure it before plugging in the RJ-11 (telephone) cable, and as usual I tried doing things from memory, but I messed up Qualitynet’s setting so I called them up and got these details:

  • Login type: PPPoA
  • VPI: 8
  • VCI: 35

Configured the modem which logged in right away, while on the phone the guy told me that I entered the wrong password and asked if I want to set that as the password, which was helpful but I prefered to keep the old one after remembering it. Then I went on to configure a few port forwarding, the wireless, the DMZ zone, and a few other details. This modem is pretty good with lots of customizing capabilities, the menu is a bit lacking in ease but if you figure your way around there is a lot you can tinker with in the device. After 20 minutes I got a call from Qualitynet on my mobile telling me my connection disconnected and they were asking if everything was ok, I was pleasently surprised, I told them I kept messing around with it and it had to reboot every time I made a major modification. Overall I’m very happy with this setup, initially I haven’t seen any problems so I’m hoping that things go smoothly and it turns out to be a solid modem/router.

Disconnected:

  • 6 year old Maxtor Network Hard Drive (250 GB) which was a lot back then
  • Thompson ADSL Modem from Qualitynet – Didn’t have any features and was acting up a bit
  • Buffalo Airstation – Lasted me a good 4 years before giving up, I think the 2 meter fall from a high shelf ended its life span.

This helped free up some sockets, I got rid of a lot of wiring, I cleaned up the rear area of my computers which was still dust filled. I’m trying to lessen the amount of cables and equipment I have, minizing after knowing your needs is a lot harder then it seems.

Qnet Connection

This always happen every year I make an upgrade, I went to InfoConnect Expo to see Qnet prices and so decided to upgrade to the 7MB connection. I asked them to do a line test on my connection, turns out my limit is 8MB down and 1 MB down, meaning I have to take something below 8 MB, and 6MB would be playing it safe, I thought I would push it a little with the 7MB.

Same thing happened last year, I upgraded from 2MB to 4MB and the line was down, took them a week to sort it out. I do appreciate that they do have decent prices, and their phone support has improved greatly over the past year. I have called with problems before, and the customer service department were very helpful.

Now my connection dropped from 4MB connection to a 786 Kbps connection. They told me its a port problem, something on their side and so hopefully they can sort it out soon. I told them to note that I already changed the phone cable inside the house, and the one from the exchange to the DB of the house, and this is a direct line. I took all precautions to make sure this line gets as little interference as possible, its a fax line which is used for internet so it doesn’t need to go through a PBX.

Now I have to wait for them to sort things out, I just hope to be able to use the 7MB connection very soon, I’m eager to use it. I keep forgetting that my friend has a 16MB connection in his house for $34, such a difference, but still Kuwait is oddly in a better situation then most countries in the Middle East because of the larger choices we have.