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.

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.

Zain Home Router (LTE/4G Speeds)

I had a chance to get my hands on the Zain router, running on the LTE/4G frequencies in Kuwait which still hasn’t been fully certified from the Ministry of Communications. So people are asking the main reason for the delay is MoC, they have everything deployed for a little while now, but as usual politics is what stops things in Kuwait, but MoC is a totally different story.

Getting my hands on it I had a bit of skepticism but I did try AT&T’s 4G services and I have seen how fast it is and its scary fast. So the first thing I wanted to do is test it where ever I can, and this case I tested it at work and friend’s places and my home. Overall I am impressed with the hardware, it is solid and gets a lot of signal, decent speed even when it is low signal, and that was the important test for me, even with low signal it was getting decent speeds around 10 MB.

It’s a Huawei modem, looks good and simple, 4 Ethernet ports on the back and right now the services are not open to the public. The worst signal I got was ranging from 8MB to 16MB, up to 32MB to 42MB. Those are some very scary speeds, and surfing the net feels lighting fast, I do love fast internet. And for 33 KD a month honestly its not too bad, but the cap should at least be 200 or 250 GB not 80 GB

Pros:

  • Gets decent speed even with bad signal
  • It doesn’t have to be next to a window like Mada so you can place it inside your house and it will work
  • It has reached 42 MBPs with me, which got about 4.1 MB down with downloads

Cons:

  • The Cap is 80GB, thats nothing compared to the speed
  • You can buy more space but its overpriced in my opinion
  • Its not consistent at times, but I think they are just ironing out a few kinks in the system

Based on what speeds can be reached you can reach which is 2.1 MB/s to 4.1 MB/s you can use up your 80 GB cap in 11 to 6 hrs depending on your speed. And previously the 21 MBps had a 60 GB limit from Zain so logically it should be at least 120 GB based on their original capping scheme. Overall I think the cap is ridiculous but they are going to do it then a person should get a good bang for their buck with a 250 GB limit.

If you reach the cap you can buy an extra 25 GB for 12 KD or 5 GB for 3 KD, overall I think the pricing is off and not proportional but at least they give you an option to buy more data. For a 15 month contract you get the first three months 50% off and the device for free with 33 KD per month after the first three months. Overall the package is pretty good.

Testing In Shuweikh

Sometimes it would hang a bit, in an odd way and torrents would slow down even when the surfing speed is still high so its a bit surprising. The main issue is consistency, nothing beats a fiber connection but if you don’t have the option then this is the next best thing for surfers. Some gamers will like it but if you care about your ping then this is a bit on the high side. So its great for surfing and certain amount of downloading, not for heavy internet use, but its the perfect back up to your home internet if something goes wrong.

Testing in Miseela/Bidaa

In my case I have crappy land lines so I depend on WIMD and I’m honestly very happy with them even though they are a bit congested still at least a solid 12 to 15 MB and hitting 20 MB in the evenings with no cap. If you can have fiber thats always better but then again this device will really do the job because 4G coverage is supposed to be all over the country by the time it rolls out.

Testing In Fintas with One Signal Bar

Overall I think its an excellent product but they are working out the kinks, it did really reach those high speeds but we have to keep in mind nobody is on the network and it isn’t commercially available so until it is then we can judge the real speed based on the number of users, I hope they have the band width to accept the number of users who will get on board. I’m not sure when it will go commercial because the issue isn’t with Zain its with a governmental entity and you can never guess when they will be done.

Speedtest with VPN on, overall not bad, surfing speed feels quick

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.

BBM – The Barren Wasteland

Last year and the year before RIM was struggling, now they are just a sinking ship, when a few years before that it was everywhere like wildfire, everyone had a Blackberry. I still kept mine because of our Dewaneya being on it, and honestly it is still the best group communication App out there, I think they should have sold it off as an App in the App Store and Android Market, it would have helped sustain Blackberry on the software side.

They held on for so long and still RIM didn’t turn around at all, and a lot of people got fed up with it, they even switched to Android because some people didn’t want Apple. The whole of 2011 didn’t change anything for RIM, and Android & Apple just kept coming up with more updates and better handsets. People started shifting, it feels odd when people start leaving your contact list, at first its normal but then it just got ridiculous, floods of people disappeared. It was honestly sad some of these people were gone, it was nice to to star in touch with them. To be honest up to this point there isn’t an application that is better then BBM and nothing beats a good Qwerty keyboard but they had their problems and they didn’t progress. We are still stuck with the 10 MB which is pretty much useless when roaming, it gets used up in two or three days at most. I don’t know why but it feels like I was abandoned when I see the status update “BBM OFF – WhatsAPP +965##$##$##”, as if the person just gave up and left.

Now the migration has begun, very few people are left on Blackberry, I’m still holding on to it and using it when I can. I’m not a fan of WhatsApp even though pretty much everyone shifted over to it. I tried ChatON and a few other Apps they weren’t that great either. I think I’m probably going to stick to it until this piece of hardware quits, then I don’t think I will be getting another Blackberry until I see some drastic changes in the coming future.

Messed Up International Calls

What the hell is going on with Phone lines in Kuwait. I just came to accept that when people call into to Kuwait the call quality is usually crap, but when you call out you get a decent line. Over the last few years for some reason the lines have gotten worse, and lately most of the time when someone calls me from overseas I get some random 222#####, very rarely is it with the caller ID and sometimes its a 5 digit number like 29268. Now recently over the past two weeks I have gotten some strange caller ID numbers which start with 9982#### or 9878####. Now it seems that some Zain lines are being used as Voip numbers, I’m sure that it isn’t Zain doing this because all international lines in Kuwait are controlled by the Government for the most part, if they know they have control over it. Seriously, when someone calls me from abroad I would like to know who it is.

Viva Online Marketing

Recently Viva have been tackling more and more online marketing, pretty much all of the telecom companies are seeing the value of social networking and blogs in Kuwait and its a very nice thing the Big Three are doing. Recently over the past year Viva seemed to be aggressive about gaining online coverage getting more and more blogs but what I find to be restrictive about their sponsorship. If you are sponsored by Viva you can’t cover any social networking event by the other telecom companies, and you can’t cover new product details of the other company. This is when I think that advertising isn’t worth it when there are restrictions of these kinds attached to it.

Update: Wataniya & Zain do not have that policy, they are fairer in the way they do business.

Zain – Interaction With Their Tech Support

Blackberry9780

This was probably one of the funniest conversations I have had with Zain’s tech support, I just couldn’t believe what the guy was telling me. I had a problem with my phone, for the last few days its like my Blackberry was having blackouts a few hours at a time, then I went two days without BB connectivity, only connecting over wifi. After trying everything to troubleshoot the issue on my own I thought to call tech support and see what could be happening, because other people with BB were operating normally, and I recently paid the ridiculous amount so I didn’t have an overdue bill.

Conversation:

Tech – “Hello thank you for calling Zain”

Me – “Hello I have an issue with my Blackberry, it isn’t connecting to any Blackberry services”

Tech – “Did you try switching off your phone and turning it back on?”

Me – “I turned it off and turned it on, I took out the battery waited 10 mins and turned it on, I even took out the SIM card for 10 mins and turned it back on, is there something wrong with my line?”

Tech – “I don’t know, did you try putting another SIM in your phone to check if its not the phone?”

Me – “What do you mean you don’t know? And what other SIM?”

Tech – “Doesn’t a friend in your Dewaneya have a Blackberry? Try his SIM in your phone to make sure the problem is with the phone not the line”

Me – “Ok… Still What do you mean you don’t know if there is anything wrong with the SIM?!?”

Tech – “I can’t tell right now if there is anything wrong with your line”

Me – “Why can’t you?”

Tech – “Oh our system is down or being upgraded for the last 36 hours so I won’t be able to tell”

Me – “OK… So if I put another SIM and the phone works, then that means there is a problem with my line and now my phone, would you be able to do anything about it?”

Tech – “No we won’t be able to do anything to fix your line until our system is back up”

Me – “And when exactly will your system be back up?”

Tech – “Give us a call back in 24 hours”

Me – “Great.. Thank you Good bye”

Tech – “Goodbye and Thank you for calling Zain”

Thats 15 mins of my life that I will not able to get back.

Viva Data Caps – Sucks!

VivaSucks

In the last 24 hours Viva has applied data caps all its internet “Unlimited” package. It used to be the favored internet connectivity for people and companies. With these Caps it has become useless, people don’t realize the amount of data used when your surfing sites like Youtube or gaming online. Thankfully I’m dependent on the Fasttelco and Kems for my gaming and Downloading needs, and during that time of the crazy dust storms Viva was great but with these Data Caps Viva are now down in the dumps, no reason to keep the subscription, time to end the subscription.

Data Caps:

  • 2GB per Day – I already hit that right away
  • 60GB per Month

3G – UK

3GUK

Since I’m going to be in London for a little while I thought it would be best to remain connected through one of the mobile Broadband providers. I wanted to have fast internet coverage where ever I am and most of the companies offer Pay As You Go USB Sticks but not all offer Pay As You Go MicroSims for the iPad. I had five options to work with for Pay As You Go:

  • Vodafone (No iPad)
  • 3
  • O2 (No iPad)
  • Orange
  • Tmobile (No iPad)

I went to several of these companies and went to carephone warehouse to get the best deal. I also wanted to try a few of them because I might not have the best coverage at home. All of them have limited plans of 1 to 3 GB max per plan and you can top it off to increase the limit. ranging from £15 to £35 depending on the plan and type of USB stick. Out of all of them O2, Orange and Tmobile weren’t that good. Vodafone had a good plan but the coverage by my place isn’t too good but when I’m out its really good, but surprisingly the best out of the bunch for the Laptop and the iPad is 3 Network. And one other note, Mobile Broadband Internet in Kuwait is ALOT faster then the UK, but they can have the option of fiber to home but I was surprised how crappy their Mobile Broadband service in the United Kingdom.