Categories
Internet Reviews

Zain Beam Follow-up Review

Back in February Zain hooked me up with Zain Beam to test out. Previously I had been using B Wirless (WiMD) but my direct line of sight with their tower had been blocked and so my connection was no longer stable. A regular LTE connection in my area was also unstable with speeds varying between 2Mbps to 4Mbps, maybe a bit more sometimes. After trying out Zain Beam in February for a couple of weeks, I loved it so much I decided to commit for 2 years and subscribe to it. This is now my follow-up review around 4 months later.

If you want to read my previous post on Zain Beam including details on the installation process, click here.

Since I installed Zain Beam the internet connection has been pretty flawless. I subscribed to their 20Mbps service but I rarely get speeds less than 27Mbps, in fact, it’s usually always around 30Mbps. For those of you with LTE connections in fancier less congested areas, you’re probably not impressed with my internet speed, and that’s understandable. I find it frustrating that my phone’s speed can reach 120Mbps in some areas, but yet my Zain Beam connection at home gets me only 30Mbps. It’s even more frustrating now to see my friends get upwards of 600Mbps with 5G as well. But, 30Mbps is the fastest connection I’ve ever been able to get in my apartment.

That’s the thing you need to be aware of when comparing Zain Beam to other internet services in Kuwait. Not everyone has fiber optics or fast LTE in their areas. Zain Beam is meant for people like me living in heavily congested areas with no fiber, no decent 4G connection, and no 5G either. So 30Mbps is super fast for me, it’s three times faster than my previous 10Mbps connection I had with B Wireless, and the only other connection that I can get which is faster than mine… is the 40Mbps Zain Beam package.

Another thing I want to point out is that Zain also limits the amount of Beam users in an area, I guess to keep the experience consistent. A friend of mine wanted to get Beam in my area but Zain told him all the slots had already been filled.

In the 4 months I’ve had Beam I did run into one issue. Around a week or two after signing up I woke up one morning and found my internet down. No biggie, I called up Zain to talk to support and this is where I ran into a problem. With B Wireless, if I had a problem I’d call support and someone would pick up right away. The support guy would then try and solve my problem over the phone and if the problem was more complicated, he’d either tell me he’d call me back or that a technician would be sent over. Fairly simple and the whole process of solving my issue would take less than 5 minutes. With Zain, on the other hand, you don’t talk to a support persona, instead, you have to call up the regular Zain call center and leave a complaint and then someone gets back to you. Wouldn’t be that big of a deal but the process to leave a complaint takes forever! It took the call center guy over 10 minutes (not exaggerating) just to file my complaint. Their process for taking complaints is excruciatingly long, that’s over 10 minutes just to tell them my internet is down and for them to tell me someone will call me back. Other than that I didn’t really have any issues and that day it turned out my connection was down because they were doing maintenance.

With the launch of 5G last week the only thing that I’m bothered with right now is the price vs speed ratio compared to 5G. Viva, for example, offers 5G at KD25 a month (although with a 250GB limit) which is how much I’m paying, so I now feel like my connection is starting to feel overpriced. If 5G in my area can get me speeds over 100Mbps I’d be super upset that I’m committed to two years of Zain Beam and just getting 30Mbps. What I’m hoping is that Zain will eventually upgrade the speed of their two Beam packages in the coming months from the current 20Mbps and 40Mbps options right now, to maybe 40Mbps and 80Mbps instead. That would make things more palatable when compared to 5G.

If you have any specific questions on Zain Beam you can ask me in the comments below. If you’re interested in signing up to Zain Beam, here is a link to their product page.

Categories
First Impression Internet

Zain Beam – First Impression

Around ten days back I asked if anyone had tried the Zain Beam internet service and a few of you responded with high praise for the service. Zain also read my post and got in touch with me with an offer to try the service for a month, so I jumped on the opportunity and yesterday they installed Beam at my place.

The installation process is supposed to be fairly simple, they install an antenna on your balcony or the roof of your building, and then run an ethernet cable to your apartment where they hook it up to an LTE modem. In my case the installation process was slightly more complicated and took around an hour and a half because they were having trouble finding a strong signal. My building which back in the 90s was the tallest in the neighborhood is now surrounded by much taller buildings and so it was difficult to find a good signal. Thankfully, just as I was about to give up hope, they found a spot on my roof with ample signal and then ran the ethernet cable from it down to my apartment.

First impression? It’s fast! I asked for the 20Mbps connection and I’m getting around 30Mbps which is similar to what other people are reporting. What’s also great is my upload speed is between 10-20Mbps.

This right now is the fastest connection I’ve ever had at home and it feels strange because I’m so not used to having a fast and stable connection at home. YouTube videos play instantly as well as HBO, Amazon, Hulu and Netflix. The video quality from the streaming services also looks to have improved because of my now faster connection. I also managed to update all the apps on my two ipads plus two macs really quickly. I know all this sounds very normal, but you have to keep in mind, my connection for the past year or so has been terrible and I now finally feel like I have fast internet like a normal person.

For those of you who are gonna leave a comment saying I should get LTE or B Wireless or whatever, those services might be great where you are, but not where I am. I’ve had B Wireless for the past 7 years but you need a direct line of sight to their tower for it to work properly. A few months ago I lost what little line of sight I had which is why I had to look for a B Wireless alternative. Regular internet services from telecoms also doesn’t work properly where I live. Zain Bolt which can easily hit 60-70Mbps at the office barely gets 12Mbps at my place and spends most of the time hovering at around 5Mbps. So I understand you might have super fast mobile or fiber optics internet at your place, at mine it’s a different story.

Its too soon to tell if the Zain Beam speed will remain consistent, but I’m optimistic since Zain are limiting the amount of Beams they install per area. A friend of mine also told me these antennas can be upgraded in the future to work with 5G, so Zain could potentially end up providing much faster internet than their current two options (20Mbps or 40Mbps). Personally, if the connection continues like this for a the next few days I’m not even going to wait for my one month trial period to finish, I’m going to sign up right away.

The cost of the service is KD25 a month for 20Mbps, and KD40 for 40Mbps. With both options you need to commit to 24 months which is a tough pill to swallow. But with no better option, I’m willing to commit. If you guys have any questions about Zain Beam or want me to try anything let me know in the comments below.

Categories
Internet

Do you have Zain Beam?

Now that Zain’s Beam internet service has been out for a few months I’m wondering if any of my readers have tried it. I’ve been using B Wirless (Wimd) for the past 6 years but recently I’ve been having a lot of issues and barely getting 10Mbps. It’s not B Wireless’s fault, it’s just there is now a new building blocking the line of sight needed between my building and the B Wirless tower, so my connection is no longer stable.

I’ve considered getting an LTE connection from one of the telecoms but with the testing I’ve done, the speed can vary from as low as 2Mbps up to around 12Mbps. My only other alternative is Beam, but I haven’t heard of anyone using it. So if you have Beam installed, let us know what you think of it.

Categories
Internet Reviews Technology

Zain 5G Review – One Year Later

It’s been a year since I first tried 5G and so I wanted to post a quick update on how it’s been. Since my initial review last year, a lot more people have now gotten 5G and the prices have dropped considerably. When 5G first came out we got it at the office and our monthly fee was KD45. When I got mine last year, I was paying KD19 for 1TB. Earlier this year prices dropped even further and so Zain called me up and told me that they were changing my package from KD19 for 1TB to KD19 for 4TB. A cool gesture considering on two occasions I had exceeded my 1TB bandwidth before the end of the month.

But, because there are now a lot more people on the network, the speeds aren’t what they used to be. When I initially reviewed 5G I was getting speeds of 650-750Mbps on average with the occasional 1.0-1.2Gbps. For the past 6 months, the highest speed I’ve seen is 390Mbps which I was actually surprised to see this morning when I ran the speed test for this post. In full transparency, that was actually the fastest speed I achieved over a number of tests this morning with the lowest coming out to 290Mbps which is close to the speeds I’ve been getting recently. On CITRA, the highest speed I got was 366Mbps.

The fastest connection I could get where I live before 5G was 28Mbps with Zain Beam. So although I’m not getting the 600+ speeds I used to get, I’m still getting speeds 100x 10x faster than my previous connection. I think as long as it stays around 300Mbps I’m good, if it drops down to the 100s I’d still be ok I guess, just annoyed because I used to get 700Mbps. According to Open Signal real-world download speeds, the average 5G connection speed in Kuwait is 185Mbps (one of the telecoms must be killing the curve) so I’m above average. Kuwait actually has the 6th fastest 5G connection speeds in the world according to the same data.

So do I still recommend 5G? Yup, 100% especially with the current prices (10KD for 1TB). So if you’re still on 4G it’s definitely worth upgrading.

Categories
Internet Reviews

Zain 5G Final Impression – I Want!

Around a month ago Zain sent over a 5G router for me to test out at home. I’ve already posted a first and second impression post and now after trying out the device for a full month, I’m convinced it’s a must-have connection. There isn’t anything faster right now on the market, not even close.

Clearly 5G is super fast but there are two important questions that need to be answered here:

1) Do you really need 5G speeds?

No, I don’t think so, I don’t think the majority of people need 5G speeds, I personally don’t. Someone left a comment the other day under my iPhone 11 Pro post saying it sucks that the new iPhone doesn’t have 5G, and I have to ask, why would you need 5G speeds on your phone? On my home computers, I rarely download torrents anymore which is where I can see speeds of 500 or 700Mbps making the biggest difference and maybe for downloading a new videogame on my PS4 every now and then or a software update but that’s really it. For normal use 100Mbps would be more than enough. The reason I see the need for 5G is because not everyone can get a fiber connection at home and rarely anyone gets decent LTE speeds at home, so 5G is really the only other option.

When I tried downloading a torrent file over 5G, I hit speeds of around 10MB/s and I ended up downloading a 5GB file in around 7 minutes. 5G is so fast that it might have taken me longer to copy a 5GB file off my home server to my Mac. There is a wow factor when downloading large apps or PS4 updates and you see the progress bar fill up so quickly. 5G is so fast its stupid funny, and in my case where just until a few months ago the fastest connection I could get at home was 10Mbps, jumping up to 700Mbps is a HUGE difference.

So no, I don’t think anyone really needs full 5G speeds for normal use, but for the majority of people, 5G is the only way to crack the 100Mbps barrier at home.

2) Is it expensive?

I know a lot of people might disagree with me here but I don’t think 5G is expensive. If you compare 5G to fiber prices or how much I’m paying for Zain Beam, you’ll quickly realize the amount you’re paying for the speed you’re getting is actually great deal. Here is a quick comparison:

Zain Beam 20Mbps: KD25/m (unlimited bandwidth)
Fasttelco Fiber 50Mbps: KD35/m (unlimited bandwidth)
Qualitynet Fiber 100Mbps: KD32/m (unlimited bandwidth)
Zain 5G (500Mbps+): KD45/m (1TB bandwidth)

I think what really makes 5G seem expensive is the limited bandwidth. Optimally the minimum you would want is 1TB per month. I just checked my usage and from September 12 up to September 30, I consumed around 320GB of bandwidth which is a lot less than I was expecting so 1TB would work out just fine for my needs. If you download tons of PS4 or Xbox games, you’ll probably want more than 1TB and the next step up is a whopping KD65 for 1.8TB.

In conclusion, I want 5G at home even though I just signed up to Zain Beam a few months back. I did ask a Zain employee if I could “upgrade” from Beam to 5G and was told I could without any penalties so that’s good news. I am worried that once 5G becomes a lot more common the speeds would drop, but even if it drops to say 300Mbps I’d still be happy with it. If you haven’t checked out my previous posts on 5G here are the links:

First Impression: Zain 5G in Salmiya
Second Impression: Zain 5G in Salmiya

Also, here is the link to the Zain 5G website.

update: I was just informed that you can’t upgrade from Zain Beam to 5G so I updated my post to reflect that.

Categories
Geek Internet

Second Impression: Zain 5G in Salmiya

A couple of weeks back I posted my first impression of Zain 5G at my apartment in Salmiya. I was having issues with speeds fluctuating from 3Mbps to 350Mbps and I couldn’t understand why. After my post, Zain ended up sending over a technician to look at the issue and it turned out to be a fairly simple fix.

This might get a bit nerdy but basically the 5G router has two kinds of wifi connections, a 2.4ghz and a faster 5ghz. The router I had received had been set up to combine the two wifi signals to one and depending on where I am in the apartment, the router would decide which connection I should be on. Whenever I was getting slow internet speeds it was because the router was connecting me at 2.4ghz. So we fixed this issue by having two separate wifi connections and I manually connect to the 5ghz one. We tried it out and it worked and after that issue was sorted I decided to just plug the 5G router to my home network which was already running at 5ghz and I’m really loving it now.

The lowest Zain 5G connection speed I’ve been getting is around 500-550Mbps. The connection usually hovers at around 650-750Mbps and on occasionally hits 1.0-1.2Gbps. It’s incredibly fast, like so fast I have no idea how I’m going back to my 30Mbps Zain Beam connection once I’m done with this review unit. I used to think my Beam connection was the fastest thing I could get in my apartment but I’m so blown away by 5G!

The only reason I haven’t posted a full review of the connection yet is I’ve now come across another issue. For some reason, my 5G connection at home currently dies on average once or twice a day and I need to restart the 5G router for it to come back to life. I spoke to support and we think something is wrong with the 5G router itself so I’m going to get it swapped out for another unit. My Zain 5G router at the office in comparison, I had to restart just once in the past 2-3 months since I’ve had it.

If you guys want me to try anything out or run a specific speed test then let me know in the comments below. Here is a link to the Zain 5G page.

Categories
First Impression Internet

First Impression: Zain 5G in Salmiya

I have Zain 5G at the office in the city and I average around 650Mbps there which is pretty incredible. This got me curious to see how 5G would perform at my apartment in Salmiya so Zain hooked me up with a unit to try out. Right now I have a Zain Beam connection at home and I get a stable 30Mbps.

My experience so far with 5G in Salmiya has been really weird. I’ve gotten speeds as low as 3Mbps and as high as 350Mbps. I don’t understand why the speed fluctuates so much here. I’m gonna continue to experiment with it and move the router around to see if that helps. If I can get a stable connection over 100Mbps that would be pretty crazy considering just up until a few months ago, I couldn’t get anything higher than 10Mbps at my place.

Update: Problem got solved, click here for an updated post.

Categories
Internet

Kuwait has 4th Fastest Mobile Internet in the World

Speedtest.net, the popular website that provides Internet performance metrics also has a global index for internet speeds and Kuwait is currently ranked as having the 4th fastest mobile internet in the world. They have Kuwait listed with an average speed of 135.63Mbps while UAE tops the list with 178.55Mbps. Here are the current top 10:

1 UAE – 178.25Mbps
2 Qatar – 174.56Mbps
3 Norway – 143.55Mbps
4 Kuwait – 135.63Mbps
5 Denmark – 129.95Mbps
6 South Korea – 120.38Mbps
7 Netherlands – 114.19Mbps
8 China – 109.09Mbps
9 Bulgaria – 103.72Mbps
10 Bahrain – 102.45Mbps

I’ve ALWAYS had internet issues in Kuwait until 5G came along. My apartment building could never get DSL speeds higher than 2Mbps, LTE internet averaged around 4Mbps and my only better options were expensive internet services like B-Wireless (WiMD) and Zain Beam. With 5G for the first time in my life, I finally have above-average internet speeds.

Categories
Information Internet Kuwait

5G Prices Are Out

5G was officially announced late last month but this past weekend the packages finally went live. A friend who signed up for the service is getting anywhere between 150Mbps to 300Mbps depending on where he is which is pretty fast. From the three telecoms, Viva has the most affordable packages from the bunch and you can check them all out below:

Ooredoo
KD45 – 500GB (Free Access Point)
KD65 – 1TB (Free Access Point)
Minimum 1-year contract

Viva
KD45 – 1TB (Free Access Point and iPad or PS4 Pro)
KD85 – Unlimited (Free Access Point and iPad or PS4 Pro)
Minimum 2-year contract

Zain
KD45 – 500GB
KD65 – 1TB (Free Access Point)
KD100 – 4TB (Free Access Point and iPad or Xbox One X or PS4 Pro)
Minimum 2-year contract

Although the prices do seem high when compared to LTE, I’m paying KD25 a month for a 20Mbps Zain Beam connection. So KD45 for 1TB isn’t so bad when compared to that if I’ll end up getting speeds over 150Mbps.

Categories
Automotive Television

Watching Formula 1 in Kuwait (2019)

Yesterday the second Formula 1 race of the season took place and I’ve been getting questions by people asking me how I’m watching it. The answer is simple, I’m watching the races on F1 TV, the question of how is a bit more complicated.

Early last month BeIN decided not to renew their F1 broadcast rights and instead MBC picked up the rights. You can now watch Formula 1 live for free on MBC Action but there are two main issues, the broadcast is in Arabic and there doesn’t seem to be a way to stream the races for people like me who don’t have satellite TV. That also means you can’t watch the races on your phone.

Last year Formula 1 launched their own channel called F1 TV where for $9.99 a month you can stream the race weekends live as well as watch older races from their archive. Technically F1 TV doesn’t work in Kuwait but since I have a US-based credit card, I was able to subscribe and then watch the races over a VPN. It worked for a short while last year, and then F1 TV got strict and started blocking VPN’s, but my internet connection was also an issue since it wasn’t fast enough to stream properly through VPN. So last year I ended up giving up on F1 TV and had to go back to the BeIN digital service which I didn’t like. Since BeIN was out of the picture this year, I decided to try F1 TV again, and my experience this time around has been much better.

This time around my internet is a lot faster since I signed up to Zain Beam last month (for those wondering, I’m still getting a stable 30Mbps download speed with Beam). I also changed my VPN service from StrongVPN to SmartDNSProxy and so far, F1 TV hasn’t blocked a single stream. The F1 TV service has also been polished up since they first launched and there doesn’t seem to be any weird streaming issues (like their stream crashing at the start of the race). I also discovered a cool trick the other day where if I use my TV as a second monitor, I could use one browser tab to stream the race on my TV and then use the laptop screen with another browser tab open to a live race data stream or a driver cockpit view. And on top of all this, I’ve also been able to stream the race on my mobile phone using the F1 app.

So if you want to watch Formula 1 in Kuwait, your only options (at the time of this post) is MBC Action or F1 TV if you have a foreign credit card.