Zain 4G / LTE Rant

It seems I wasn’t the only one noticing that as of the last few months my Zain LTE Router is no where near what it used to be.

People may say that 4G does it for them, its good for quick browsing and going through normal internet usage, but not heavy duty lifting, not major downloading or gaming what so ever.

Below is the full comment of Tenthfire that really broke down all the issues I was facing as well as details that I honestly didn’t delve into.

I am very disappointed with Zain LTE this year with their approach on their internet. If you check the highway their advertisement was “extremely fast speed and good for gaming” or some similar words.

This year Zain LTE decided to buy cheaper routers compared to last year. These new routers are extremely worse than because that their range is 2/4 compared to the one 1 year ago. The router malfunctions more and the chip is much worse than before. I have to say that 0 tests were made on the router.

I will try not to go into details, but if you play League of Legends, Dota, WOW, Diablo, etc do not get this router as it is extremely unstable.
Last year being one of the first people to have Zain LTE in the country with the modem + 80GB limit (now increased to 300G in 2014) I will tell you my experience.
Usually my ping in gaming is 180-1000. Mostly 180-400 which is extremely unplayable and you get frustrated.

I managed to figure an IP that had a more stable ping than others and managed to configure my router with minimum traffic and to get IP, getting 130-140 ping.
On 2014 they changed router and chip and also programmed their servers in an extremely poor way where it rejected people with old routers / chips. This caused a massive amount of disconnection and customer service have no way of helping you. The people on customer service have no idea how internet work or what the basics of latency are.

Anyways on 2014 I got a new contract hoping that their internet will get better. They increased the limit from 80GB–> 300GB which is amazing.
Zain LTE, however, after a few months starting in March decided to cancel 3G service , so now all cell phones are forced to get 4G LTE.
There is an increased pressure on 4G LTE and the server is extremely over used. The speed went around 3GB / slower per 4 months.
I am sad to say that now the speed of Zain LTE at 3.14.2014 with tests is 5-12 GB/ second on download and less than 10GB in upload from the normal standard which was 40GB+.
IF you buy a normal DSL your ping / internet will be more stable and faster.
I have done some tests on certain IP : 149.147.19.119 37.37.162.104 37.36.132.137 31.203.192.129 37.203.192.129 37.39.173.140 188.236.211.62 188.236.37.152
and many more.

I also made a list of the problems Zain 4G LTE service is having from 2014 (especially Feb and March):
1. Assigning two people the same “IP ” (usually when several computers connect to a router they are given different “IP”).
This is bad, because if that person with the same “IP” downloads something your speed will get slower and if you’re gaming you will lag.
2. Disables Youtube Comments and enables Safety Mode.
This is an extremely annoying problem only seem from their filter / internet problem. Youtube loads extremely slow as well and a lot of problems.
3. Unable to browser specific websites from an “error” which can be solved by turning off your router for 30 seconds – 2 minutes.
This gets annoying when I have to close my router to access sites like XXX website because the router is “stuck” and it happens a lot. Sometimes it gets me an error while going on google. This is only with their service. I have tried normal DSL and other internet services which are much better.
4. As I said before their router radius is extremely low and signal level affects ping.
Radius is usually 0.5 floorX 0.80 floor (LXW) meaning it is worse than any other types.
5. Router shutdowns if you download 3 things simultaneously.
Lets say I download 3 from Itunes 3GB each I can crush my router and their server. It will build up some level of “clog” on that IP address that it will be slow. You will need to change your IP address.

Their simple network structure is sad and if I was to rate it from 1-10 I would give it 0.
I do not recommend this internet for any person who wants a stable network or for gaming. I do not recommend 4G LTE from any company as it is extremely unstable and fails to bring minimum international standards. Calling this network 4G LTE is a simple joke.
This is only 1/5 of the server problems I see. If I was to include more problems on their server and networks it would be extremely cruel.

How they can solve most problems:
1-Fix network stability ( I believe a multi-million dollar company can figure out how to do this).
2-Do not overload yourself with people when your network is extremely weak.
3-Offer certain configuration for gamers.
4-Fix disconnection problems.
5-Find a better engineer for your routers and their components.
6-Do more testing on your routers before buying them from China.

4G Coverage – GCC

KuwaitTelecoms

Kuwait is one of the first conutries to roll out full 4G coverage, and we are tough customers, I honestly was very critical and abusing it when possible and it has survived my torment and still it is doing well.

4G in the GCC & UK are the same and I’m assuming the Europe would be the same as UK in regards to 4G specifications. But the coverage across Europe is spotty at best. I was in Germany and drove a good amount outside and inside of Frankfurt to see how it works, then there was Amsterdam which we extensively used their network. The connections weren’t that great, and sometimes very disappointing, surprisingly Amsterdam was much better then Frankfurt in terms of coverage.

4G Coverage in Kuwait is fantastic in comparison to Europe, it seems that Europe has fallen back in comparison to us. Our terrestrial data speeds are a disappointment in Kuwait and improvement does’t look like it will happen any time soon, they have been talking about Fiber for the good part of a decade now. But due to this lack of development the wireless data providers have stepped in and so 4G such as Zain, Viva, and Soon to be Wataniya are providing for what the customers are asking for.

Kuwait is even better then the UAE in this aspect, Etisalat has coverage but the speeds are honestly crap and even much worse when you head out of Dubai with little to no coverage, and Du is worse then Etisalat in this regard. It seems that we are more then a step ahead of Europe and Kuwait is leading the pack in GCC. And I have yet to see someone in the GCC to match our coverage and overall speeds, we are spoiled and I honestly hope we have more developments in regards to wireless & LTE internet.

Link: Flickr

Vodafone UK – 4G

Vodafone

All the Providers are talking about their 4G Coverage in London. Of course the 4G Services is only available to Contract numbers, not Pay As You Go or Top Up lines. In my case I have a contract line and upgraded to 4G contectivity with a max of 8GB per month for 36 GB per month, you can change from month to month, but only stay on 4G.

I was happy and thought I would get the same service as I do in Kuwait. At full signal I was getting 50+ MB/s which was impressive. Out of all the companies – EE, Orange, O2, Vodafone, & 3 – I read that Vodafone has the best 4G coverage in London as well as the fastest.

It seems their definition of coverage is similar to swiss cheese, lots of holes in the network. 4G was fine as long as I had 4G coverage, spotty would be putting it nicely. The coverage in London’s main metropolitan area is a disaster. Every building I go into, there is almost little to no coverage, and even when we are outisde it is max one or two bars. Rarely do I see full bars, I don’t know how they planned their coverage but Vodafone falls far behind Zain or any of our Mobile Companies in Kuwait. Zain has spoilt us, our expectations are too high.

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 4G – Home Router – Saturation

ZainLTE7

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.

Sim Card Cutter Blunder

SimCard

Just before traveling I bought a MicroSim Cutter since now all my phones are Micro Sims, got it from one of the phone shops on Khalid bin Waleed Street in the city. Simple process, it was on my to do list so a few hours before my flight I cut my US, UK, and then I decided to cancel my BB service at last and I cut that chip too and switched phones around.

Did that really quickly.. too quickly.

I wanted to put the chip in the phones and it looked a little too small. Turns out the guy sold me the iPhone 5 Nano-Sim cutter! I was pissed, now I have to get new Sims and some of them I can’t get except when I land, thats ridiculous. I’m an idiot for not checking, and that guy must have switched them, and then I blame Apple for changing the Sim Card sizes every time they change a number on their damn iPhone! Very annoyed!

Zain Network Slowdown

CellTower

Is it just me or was Zain’s network acting weird yesterday. My data network kept dropping every 20 to 40 minutes plus it would drop from 3G to Edge a lot during the day. And today has been acting strange as well. At first I thought it was my phone but I restarted a few times to be sure with no changes, and my other phone was acting up as well so things were odd. It seems that Zain might be making some changes to the network because other people were experiencing these issues since yesterday.

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.

Zain Social Media Day

Thanks to @ZainKuwait for setting up a very fun event, I haven’t been to much of any events because of timing and work, but because a lot of people I knew were going and people called up (Dude from 7ajiDude) I decided that I would pass by for a bit before having to take off. They really tied everyone together on this one, and they held it at a very nice venue, @ Al Hamra on the 55th floor, The Sky Lobby, so you get to meet friends and new people with a beautiful view. Every body from every type of social media was there from Bloggers, Tweeters, YouTubers, and Instagrammers, pretty much anyone and everyone that had to do with Social Media.

The amount of people I saw and wanted to catch up with was insane, I met up with the Android crew and we held up the back corner by Pick Yo while the events started. Literally I think everyone was there, I kept flying between people saying hello and catching up. There was a lot of Apple and Android banter going on but it was relatively friendly, lol. They were giving away prizes to people who were answering questions right and one of them ones who did was Jacqui, she original gadget queen.

The best part for me was catching up with a lot of people I have seen in a while all in one time, but it was a bit too short a time to catch up with everyone. The event setting was great, and I loved the seating, they really did a great job of setting the whole thing up. The catering was nothing short of fantastic, all by local businesses and very well done, there were literally many to list a few: Gelato Italiano, Rice Pudding Factory, Neqsa, Kiwi Bakery, Pick-Yo Frozen Yoghurt, The Pantry, Gathering, Al Foz Kitchen, Chocolateness, and Vinox Chocolatier. Those are just the few that I could remember and I was only there for an hour.

(Pictures Were Supplied By The Great Qortuba)


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