Posted by: sean | April 2, 2009

Allô? Lebanese telecommunications

telephone

telephone

Recently, things have been changing in the field of telecommunications in Lebanon. I haven’t been following things very closely from a news perspective, but these changes have had an effect on my daily life. First of all, broadband internet is available through several different companies. The problem is that the government telephone company Ogero still has control over all the lines. What this means is that while you can get technically get broadband service from IDM or Cyberia (for example), you’ll have to wait for it. Ogero does its best to slow down the installation of its competitors, which means that I’ve been waiting for a month now to get my internet installed with IDM, who seems to have the best deal for me. This, I think, is common in recently privatized makrets: the former monopoly does its best to unfairly destroy its competition while simultaneously maintaining terrible customer service and a subpar offer.

On the telephone front, there have been some major changes with Alfa cellular lines. A few weeks ago, the company introduced free text roaming and the ability to check your balance on a prepaid card. After that, there was the ability to send another Alfa number some of your credit, and just yesterday, Alfa went from a unit system to a dollar system. Before ,$36 bought you 135 credits, each worth one text message or about a 45 seconds of call time. Now for $36 you get about $32 of credit, which is the same amount of call time, but text messages have gotten cheaper, at $.09 a pop.

What does all this mean? First it means that Alfa now offers pretty much the same services as MTC Touch. Now I doubt that Alfa would be doing this out of the kindness of their hearts, so I have a feeling that the privatization of telecommunications that was “postponed” last year may actually be coming after all. Time will tell…

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Responses

  1. Actually the reason for the improvement in Alfa services is because the management has changed. Now Orascom run the show there. The Saudi-German venture were kicked out for providing poor service.

  2. Ahhh, that makes sense. Thanks for the info, Jad. We’ll see what other changes come about.


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