Break the monopoly

Post by Mark

There is a petition currently circulating twitter asking the Ministry of Communications to break the ISP monopoly. Not sure if it is going to do any good but its worth a shot and just takes a minute to sign. Here is the [Link]

Update: While on the subject, check out this post on Z District on a conversation that took place on the KEMS Facebook page [Link]

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Fair Access Policy – The numbers

Post by Mark

Qualitynet and KEMS have both published their bandwidth limits. Strangely they both have the exact same limits which are the following:

Speed – Daily Download Limit
512 Kbps – 1GB
1 Mbps – 1.7GB
1.5 Mbps – 1.9GB
2 Mbps – 2.9GB
3 Mbps – 3.8GB
4 Mbps – 4.7GB
5 Mbps – 5.4GB
6 Mbps – 6GB
7 Mbps – 6.8GB
8 Mbps – 7.9GB

If you have the Qualitynet Nitro package your download limit is slightly higher. United Networks haven’t published their limits yet but I am assuming it would be similar to Qualitynet and KEMS. Fasttelco also haven’t published their numbers although I heard that they will not be instating limits but instead punish only heavy abusers. But, unless they publish some kind of numbers, a heavy abuser might be someone that downloads 2GB a day or 20, we wouldn’t know.

Thanks Dylan

Update: I think the current system in place is unfair. My line can only handle 2 Mbps which means I am stuck with a 2.9GB daily limit and no option to increase it. I know the Ministry of Communications wants to reduce the internet prices which is great but placing download limits is not the way to go about it.

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The Mada WiMAX Review

Post by Mark

On Thursday two engineers from Mada came over and handed me a router so I could review and after using it over the weekend here are my findings. I’ll start the post with the speedtest results since I know that’s what everyone has been waiting for. I used for the testing and although I was originally planning to test using the servers in London, New York and LA, I ended up running into issues with the New York and LA server and so decided to add two more locations which are New Jersey and San Francisco.

I don’t know why the NY and LA servers were giving me such terrible numbers but I think it had to do more with the server than my connection since the connection worked perfectly again with their neighboring cities. The location of the WiMAX router does effect the speed of your connection. For example I live in Salmiya block 9 and according to a Mada engineer, Salmiya is one of their most focused areas so the speeds I’m getting are probably the fastest you can get. When I tried the Mada router at my office in Kuwait City, I was getting on average around 2.8Mbps tops. The engineer told me it had to do with the location (Kuwait City), the fact my office is on the 21st floor (connection starts dropping after the 15th) and the fact the windows were double glazed (bounces signals). A reader called Kevin tried Mada in Mangaf block 1 and his download speed was around 6.5Mbps. So location does make a big difference on the speed. I don’t play many games online but my brother who lives next door and leeches my connection does. He spent the weekend playing on his Xbox online and according to him he didn’t notice any difference going from DSL to WiMAX.

Setting up and connecting the router was a very simple process. You just plug in the power cord, wait a minute and that’s it. You can then either connect to the router via one of the two ethernet ports on the device or by wifi. I did face a minor problem when I wanted to log into the device so I could change the wifi password as well as setup other options. Underneath the device you have two sets of login information. One is supposed to be the default wifi password the other I assumed to connect to the device to change the settings but it wouldn’t work. It was around 11PM and I wasn’t sure if there would be anyone at Mada support to help but I called them up and someone answered right away and gave me the default username and password which was just “user”. I liked the fact that I didn’t have to go through a dozen menus on the phone just to get to someone from support and I liked the fact that I didn’t have to wait on hold either. This probably has to do with the fact that the service is still new and so not many people have subscribed with them yet.

Which brings me to the future. The Mada WiMAX service currently has no download cap for the next 3 months, after that they are still not sure what the download cap will be but they’re saying it will be at least 20GB and that they will be offering a package for people who consume more. 20GB a month means around 600MB a day which is too little and makes the device really useless. 600MB a day is suitable for users who just use their internet to check email, maybe visit a few websites and also watch a video or two on YouTube. Those kind of users aren’t heavy internet users and for them if it’s a 1MB connection or 10 it wouldn’t make a difference. The real people who can use and fully take advantage of Mada’s WiMAX speed are users like me who spend all their time online surfing through a ton of websites, watching a million YouTube videos while iTunes is busy in the background downloading all the latest TV shows and Movies, the Playstation and Xbox downloading game demos and the server downloading torrents. For me it makes a huge difference if the connection is 1MB or 10.

Which brings me to a potential future issue. The connection is really great right now but that’s because the service is only a few days old, how will it be a month from now or even a year from now? I am not sure. Mada has been around for awhile now catering for the commercial industry so that gives me a bit of confidence in them. But still, 20KD for 10MB is going to attract a lot of people specially with all the problems people have with the ISP’s introducing download caps. Personally I am going to take it day by day and right now the Mada WiMAX internet connection is the fastest connection I’ve ever had. I’ve already disconnected my DSL modem at home and replaced it with WiMAX, that’s how much I’m loving this connection.

Mada currently have a booth setup at Marina Mall right outside the Mac store Digits and they also have a booth at Mohallab. It’s KD20 a month and if you sign up for 3 months it’s KD60 but you get the router for free. Here is a link to their website [Link]

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Hello Mada

Post by Mark

Mada dropped off their router for me to try out today. I just turned it on now and ran a speed test and got 9.3Mbps which is more than 4 times my current DSL speed. Actually considering the fact that my Qualitynet connection is currently limited to 512kb because I hit my daily download limit, Mada is currently around 18 times faster than my 2MB Qualitynet connection. Will do a lot of testing over the weekend and post my review early next week.

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Qatar getting 100Mbps

Post by Mark

I noticed a lot of readers want internet speeds similar to that of the US and Europe. Well personally I would settle for a connection speed similar to what our neighbors Qatar will be getting this year… 100Mbps. [Link]

Thanks Lunar

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WiMAX Internet in Kuwait

Post by Mark

I got an email with details of a new Internet provider in Kuwait that’s providing WiMAX which is basically a wireless internet connection. The provider is called Mada and the email said they’re offering a speed of 10Mbps with no download limit and for just KD60 for 3 months.

So I just called them up and this is what I got from the salesman:

– Cost is KD20 per month
– Speed is 10Mbps
– If you subscribe for 3 months you get the WiMAX router for free
– There is a download cap of 20GB a month BUT, if you sign up within the first week starting today then you won’t have a download cap
– You can sign up from their booths at either Marina Mall or Mohallab

I am going to pass by tonight and see if I can get more details. I am curious to know if I sign up today will I have no cap as long as I renew or just for the 3 months. The download cap would be a deal breaker for me. You can call them up on 1801888 or visit their website [Here]

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Qualitynet to start capping bandwidth

Post by Mark

Remember when back in February there were rumors floating around that internet providers would start implementing download limits? Back then I spoke to Qualitynet support and was assured that “I could relax and download the whole Internet if I wanted to and I would be fine”. Then, two weeks ago when they added the fine print on their DSL page saying “Terms and Condition & Fair Usage Policy Apply” I called them up again. Support told me this was just a temporary issue because of a cable cut.

But now it seems they’ve changed their stance on this sensitive subject. I just called them up and they told me that even though they still haven’t received an official letter from management with details on what the limits are going to be, we should expect that there will be a limit in place soon.

user reports have placed the limits as the following:

– 2MB DSL users will have 2.8GB daily limit, 19GB weekly limit or 85GB monthly. Once you surpass your limit your connection speed will drop to 512KB.

– 4MB DSL subscribers, one subscriber says Qualitynet told him they will be limited to 139GB a month while another said Qualitynet told him it’s 85GB as well.

Not sure what to say about this, I find this a bit depressing. Please Qualitynet don’t cap our bandwidth!

Note: ALL ISP’s in Kuwait will be applying caps, it’s not just Qualitynet.

Update: According to a reader in the forum KEMS will start watching for bandwidth abusers starting tomorrow. They won’t be setting a cap but if they notice a user abusing their bandwidth then those users would have a cap applied. The reader couldn’t get an exact figure from the KEMS support guy on what counts as abuse.

Update2: I just got an email telling me about a NEW internet provider called Mada. They are offering WiMax, 10Mbps in Salmiya area (I guess might be higher or lower other areas), NO DOWNLOAD CAP and it’s KD60 for 3 months. They have a booth at Marina Mall. I was there last night actually and saw the booth but didn’t know what it was. This is their website [Link]

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Qualitynet and other ISP’s applying fair access policy?

Post by Mark

A reader emailed me saying that all ISP’s have started applying a fair access policy meaning they will now be placing limits on our bandwidth. I checked the Qualitynet website since they’re my provider and noticed that at the bottom of their DSL page it states “Terms and Condition & Fair Usage Policy Apply.” I figured that was something that was always there but I checked the google cache version of the page and noticed it wasn’t there before.

Of course I freaked out and quickly called Qualitynet, the support guy I spoke to didn’t know what fair usage policy was but after explaining it to him he said there is a temporary limit imposed at the moment due to a technical problem but once it’s solved everything will be back to normal and we won’t have any limits. Hopefully that turned out to be true because I would hate to have a limit.

Here are the links to all the ISP’s where fair usage policy is mentioned:

Fast Telco:

Thanks Ebrahim

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Ten must-read blogs from the Middle East

Post by Mark

CNN have put together a list of the 10 must-read blogs from the Middle East and my blog made it to the list! This is what they had to say about me:

Want a break from politics? Try 248am for a slice of Kuwaiti life

Mark Makhoul, 32, a creative director at an advertising agency, began his current blog, 248am, in 2005. Mark’s wife Nataly Tawil, a designer, makes occasional contributions to the blog. The pair are both Lebanese and live in Kuwait.

While it may not offer the political insight of some of the other blogs on the list, it does present a slice of life in Kuwait, covering art, technology and more, with lots of reader contributions.

And it’s not entirely without controversy … Makhoul is apparently being sued by a Japanese restaurant chain over a negative review.

Check out the full list and article by clicking [Here]

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Internet and Bandwidth issues

Post by Mark

I received an email yesterday from a reader who told me that his internet provider had limited his DSL download bandwidth to just 1.6GB a day. He told me that according to his provider every internet provider in Kuwait will be doing the same thing to their customers in the next coming weeks as well. I thought he might have misunderstood and it could have been a problem he was having but I just read in the forum that another person also ran into a similar problem. His internet provider downgraded his speed from 2MB to 512kb because he was downloading on average 3GB a day.

This freaked me out so I called up my provider (Qualitynet) and asked them if they had implemented the same system and according to the customer support guy I spoke to they haven’t. He actually told me I could relax and download the whole Internet if I wanted to and I would be fine.

Anyone have any more information on this?

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