Zain 7 KD – Data Roaming

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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.

Zain Roaming Blackout

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This has probably been a disaster for any Zain subscriber over the last three days who has been using his or her phone outside of Kuwait. I got numerous calls from family members over the weekend from strange lines to check with Zain why did they disconnect their lines, I called up Zain to ask about different people and a few were even with Zero balance. Now they told me they were having a small glitch in their system and they will be back up in a matter of hours, I conveyed the message, usually that means 3 to 4 but even 10 hours later it was still the same situation. I called numerous techies of Zain and they kept telling me the nothing is wrong with the lines, but they are making a slight upgrade which could have had an impact on roaming Zain subscribers, so another story this time. The third time I just went to the one at the airport and those guys were swamped, turns out it was a company wide problem not just a few people for the last three days. Then the guy at the counter told people to contact the Ministry of Communication as it was their problem. So Zain did something to mess up all roaming calls, or pissed off somebody at the MoC, or MoC did something that damaged ONLY Zain’s roaming lines. Yet all Viva and Wataniya customers were working fine, for those who were expecting business calls or contacting family or any form of communication through a Zain line was practically out of luck. What ever the problem I’m surprised its still some what of an issue and at the end as usual the customers bore the grunt of the damage, I doubt Zain will offer them anything to compensate some of these damages.

Zain Data Pricing – 700 KD Blunder

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There seems to clearly be some details that you are unaware of when you have a data capable phone. With the Blackberry you have packages for data usage in local and roaming networks but that isn’t the case with any data capable phone such as an iPhone or Google phone. In my case the problem happened with my Google Nexus One by the fourth day in Bahrain during GulfRun my cellphone gets disconnected, luckily I have my BB with me so I call in to check whats the reason and they told me I have a bill of over 700 KD with the 700 being just the data bill not the phone bill and I would have to pay the whole thing off to have my phone unlocked. The problem is that a lot of people are unaware of this point, I had to pay right away and check my bill as soon as I got back to Kuwait. It was a ridiculously damaging bill and its a lot more then my usual bill. In this case Zain has no packages for data capable phone, you have to pay 6 fils per Kilobyte or 6.145 KD per 1MB which is extremely high and adds up very quickly. Since my phone was roaming, updating weather data, downloading email headers, syncing my gmail contacts and more over the past 5 days I got smacked with a ridiculous bill. I can’t believe that Zain being in Saudi and Bahrain can’t have an agreement with its own network for a data plan, the users just get destroyed by this pricing. After that mistake I switched off data while roaming and only connects to data when I connect to a wireless access point.

Vodafone has packages for anyone roaming in Europe in its network, and different packages for roaming outside of Europe. At least you are aware of all these details, and if you aren’t subscribed to it then the service isn’t switched on. If Zain switches off the service someone can easily call in to activate it but instead people get caught in this dangerously quiet pricing plan.

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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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.