JR Express 3G
JR Express 3G
On September 20th the pilot or testing phase for 3G connection in Lebanon started. The testers will have the opportunity to use the 3G connection on their phones for a period of one month meaning till October 20th which is the date set to make 3G connection available to public. I am one of those testers and I realized that a lot of Lebanese had many questions concerning this topic that’s why I decided to create this post in which I will answer most of the questions.
Those questions are based on what people asked me when they knew I was a 3G tester but I also encourage anyone having a question to post it as a comment and I will keep on updating this post with the new questions.
I should note that a part of being a tester I attended the 3G pilot phase launching conference at ESIB and that I also watched the Kalam el Nas episode dated September 29th, 2011 which main topic was connectivity in Lebanon and with the minister of telecommunications Mr. Nicolas Sehnaoui as guest.
UPDATE: The 3G service is now available for Alfa and MTC Touch users. (Oct. 26th, 2011)

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Alfa MTC Touch1- How did Alfa and MTC Touch, the two Lebanese phone operators, chose the testers ?
The two Lebanese phone operators, in collaboration with the Ministry of Telecom, decided to have a total of 4,250 testers of which 250 will be chosen on purpose because they are people in the media industry or some other industries that require a high usage of internet on the mobile phone and the remaining 4,000 will be chosen randomly. From those 4,000 persons 1,000 are aged between 18 and 24 which, according to the minister of telecom, are the main target of all the activities concerning connectivity (Phone, Internet etc…).

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2- Do you always have 3G coverage across Lebanon ?
Lebanon 3G Coverage
No. Actually the 3G connection is only available in Beirut, Zahle, Tripoli and Saida. According to official sources,Β  the 3G coverage will be available everywhere in
Lebanon starting February 2012 and let’s hope they will be able to meet this deadline. I should note that even in Beirut the 3G access is not always stable: Sometimes my phone go back to the EDGE connection.
I don’t know what are the exact geographical limits when they talk about coverage of Beirut but it seems like limits are notΒ  the same for Alfa and MTC Touch.
UPDATE: According to readers comments, Alfa ensure a 3G coverage in the Mount Lebanon region till the coast of Amchit. (October 2nd, 2011)

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Speed Test 3G Lebanon3- What is the actual/real speed of the 3G connection on your phone ?
According to speed tests I did directly on my phone, to speed tests done by other 3G testers and who shared them on the web and to speed tests done by MTC Touch and Alfa representatives in front of the “Kalam el Nas” camera: The AVERAGE speed is 1.5Mbps. Sometimes it increases or decreases depending of the number of phones connected to the network, the distance for the antennas emitting the signal or the fact that you are indoor (decrease) or outdoor (increase).

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Sim Card 3G Lebanon
4- To have access to the 3G connection, do I have to change my phone ? my Sim card ?
As long as your phone is 3G compatible you do not need to change your phone and of course most of the phones released in the past few years are 3G compatible.
Concerning the Sim card: If you are a MTC Touch user you do not need to change your Sim card, the 3G subscription will be automatically upgraded on your Sim card. However, if you are an Alfa user you will have to get a new Sim card.

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BB 3G Lebanon5- If I am a blackberry user will I be able to cancel my Blackberry service subscription and just have the 3G subscription ?
If you want to keep on using Blackberry Messenger (BBM) and the e-mail service you will have to get both the Blackberry and the 3G subscription. If you just want to have the normal internet access you can cancel your Blackberry Enterprise service. Note that the price of the blackberry subscription decreased byΒ  32.5% it is now 27$ per month and the data limit doubled.
Price 3G Lebanon

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6- What will be the price of the 3G service subscription ?
The price for the 3G service has not been announced yet, it will be announced on the 20th of October 2011 (date of the official launching of 3G).

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3G Battery Life

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7- Is it true that the 3G connection decrease your battery life ?
Yes it is true. For example my Blackberry phone that used to last an average of 2 days without charging now barely last for a full day.

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Cedarcom 3G Lebanon
8- Is it true that the official release date of 3G in Lebanon, set to be October 20th, has been postponed due to legal problems ?
There are indeed legal problems between Cedarcom and the Ministry of Telecom (MoT): Cedarcom, a private internet service provider known for supporting the privatization of the telecommunication sector, says that MTC Touch and Alfa don’t have the required license to provide a 3G connection. However, an official decision of postponing the release of the 3G service has never been released.
According to Cedarcom the privatization of the sector will lead to higher internet speed and higher data capacity for lower prices due to competitiveness between private internet service providers.

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If you have other questions concerning 3G in Lebanon please feel free to post them as comments on this blog post πŸ™‚

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Join the conversation! 32 Comments

  1. […] Excerpt from: Answers to All Your Questions Concerning 3G in Lebanon | The JR … […]

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  2. ok that’s good but your only talking about cellphone stuff but wht about the land-phone service OGERO when is the 3g coming ???

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    • 3G is a connectivity only available on mobile phones. If you are talking about the normal internet connection for computers for example the new speeds and prices have been implemented today.
      Is it what you meant ?

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  3. […] Read more: Answers to All Your Questions Concerning 3G in Lebanon | The JR … […]

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  4. […] See the article here: Answers to All Your Questions Concerning 3G in Lebanon | The JR … […]

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  5. Just one small thing:
    3G in the pilot phase isn’t limited to Beirut, Zahle, Tripoli and Saida. I get an average of 1.2 mbps here in Bickfaya, and a friend gets a similar reception in Elissar (2a3la shwei men Rabieh).

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    • Ohh that’s good to know ! Thanks for sharing Joseph πŸ™‚
      As I said in the post all the information are based on what the Minister said on TV or in the launching conference and a bi according to my experience. The minister said that it will only be available in Beirut, Tripoli, Saida and Zahle and personally I tried 3G in Rabieh but I only got a signal outdoor not indoor.

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  6. Hi Jad, just to clarify some points in your blog post and answers. 3G connection is also available on laptops and not only on mobile phones. For the purpose of having a 3G connection on ur laptop you can buy a special device called dongle and insert the 3G SIM card in it. Also, 3G coverage extends to a big part of Mount Lebanon on the alfa network but u missed that part in ur post. Good luck.

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    • Yes of course you can transfer your 3G connection from your sim card to your computer through a dongle or via bluetooth but, I don’t think this is what mohamad was talking about in his comment…
      Concerning the coverage, I said in my post that it was just available in Beirut, Tripoli, Saida and Zahle because this is what the telecom minister announced at the launching ceremony of the pilot phase. It seems like a lot of testers are being able to get 3G connection outside Beirut and that’s really good !
      Thanks for your comment mimz πŸ™‚

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      • Thank you for your reply Jad. Howerver, If you go back to Minister interviews and as well Alfa press releases, you can see that Alfa 3G connection covers Beirut and a big part of Mount Lebanon, so it is not by chance that people in Jabal Lubnan can get 3G reception πŸ™‚ Nevertheless,your post is a very interesting one! Great effort! M.

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        • Then maybe they updated the info recently because at the launching conference and during the Kalam el Nas show on LBC none of them mentioned Mount Lebanon as a covered area. If you can give us the link to the Alfa Press Releases or to the Minister interviews it would be great πŸ™‚

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      • Here you go:
        The press release gives details on alfa 3G deployment and the 3G Pilot Phase and areas covered by 3G so far. It was released back on Sep. 22.

        Hope it helps!

        Best,
        Mimz

        http://www.ameinfo.com/275715.html

        Alfa launches the 3GPilot Phase

        Lebanon: Thursday, September 22 – 2011
        Alfa, the first Lebanese mobile network, managed by Orascom Telecom announces the launch of the 3GPilot phase on its network, which will last for one month starting September 20 until October 20, 2011. Two thousand participants will take part in the 3G testing phase, among which are 500 students from several Lebanese universities and schools.
        Β 
        The first 25, Alfa 3.5G SIM cards have been distributed to 25 university students following the draw which took place during the press conference held on Tuesday, September 20, 2011 at the St. Joseph University, Campus of Sciences and Technology and lead by H.E. the Minister of Telecommunications, Nicolas Sehnaoui where he announced the launch of the 3G Pilot in Lebanon, in presence of Alfa officials and a large number of students.

        To this end, Alfa will distribute to all the pilot test participants, a 4-Gb, Alfa 3.5G-SIM card allowing them to access the internet via their cell phone or through the PC or laptop when using a special device called “dongle”, within the scope of areas covered by the 3.5G service during this testing phase, which extends from Beirut and Mount Lebanon up to the coast of Amchit. With this objective, Alfa has installed more than 250 new stations to cover the mentioned area, whereas it has developed and updated much of the equipment to be at the level of this great technological development. Each of the participants will have the chance to test, on complimentary basis, the new 3.5G services such as the Video Call and a faster internet browsing.

        It is worth mentioning that the maximum speed of the internet during the pilot test can reach up to 21 Mbps. However, the speed varies depending on the Dongle device in use and the distance of the subscriber’s location from the nearest Alfa 3.5G-equipped transmission station.

        Alfa would like to inform all participants in the 3.5G testing phase that it has put at their disposal a toll-free hotline, “118”, to receive their comments from 7 am to 1 am.

        Finally, Orascom Telecom, Alfa’s network operator, congratulates the Ministry of Telecommunications and all the Lebanese for this historical achievement which brings back Lebanon to its natural position on the regional and global telecommunications map.

        It’s worth mentioning that “Orascom Telecom Holding” (OTH) is the international leading mobile operator in the Middle East, Africa and South Asia and counts over 104 million subscribers.

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  7. Hey jad!I have blackberry phone and I want to subscribe in the internet 3g service but I can’t since I only can subscribe in the BBM service!but I didn’t like BBM and I prefer to have 3G!will someday this rule change??and be able to have the 3G service on my blackberry phone??

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    • Hi Josephine. Call your provider (MTC or Alfa) and ask them to cancel your Blackberry service subscription and to activate a regular 3G service πŸ™‚

      P.S: You can do it online too for MTC (Don’t know about Alfa).

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  8. does alfa 3g work on iphone 1 i subscirbed today but its not working i recieved a message form alfa saying : the mobile internet data bundle 10 usd/100mb you have subscribed to has been successfully activated. thank you for…. what should i do ?

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  9. how can i cancel my blackberry subscription online for mtc? and when i cancel it will my 3g service work?

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    • Jimmy first you should create an MTC Touch account on http://www.mtctouch.com.lb. Once you have done so, login to your account, go to My MTC, then go to Manage My Account and finally go to Activate/Deactivate services on your postpaid line. Once you’re there you need to deactivate your BB subscription and activate a 3G subscription of your choice.

      P.S: If you have a prepaid line I don’t think you can do it online.

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  10. does alfa 3G works on nokia xpress music 5310?

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  11. […] Answers to All Your Questions Concerning the 3G Pilot Phase inΒ Lebanon […]

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  12. Hey I have a blackberry and i want to put 3G on it ? ( by the way i am mtc)

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  13. Hi 1st question doea subscription to 3g works only from first till end of a month or just any 30 or so consecutive days.
    Do i know when i have surpassed.my prepaid amount or does it deduct without me knowing
    Do i need special sim or anything else to start 3g
    thanks a bunch i really appreciate a quick answer

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    • Hi Rayya, first, you don’t need a special sim card to activate 3G on your phone. Second, 3G plans depend on data limits rather than time so 3G will always be active as long as you don’t go over the data limit. If you have a postpaid line, the 3G service will always be active but you will be charged for every extra MB of data. With a postpaid line the 3G fees will be included normally on your bill. Finally, once you reach 80% of your data limit you get noticed and once you reach the limit you get noticed too.

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  14. How do you activate 3G? (Alfa)

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  15. […] Answers to All Your Questions Concerning the 3G Pilot Phase inΒ Lebanon […]

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  16. I am facing a problem with my alfa line, as suddenly the “EDGE” sign which is next to the signal sign become small letters “edge” and now the 3g is not working, I’ve tried to contact alfa on 111 but as usual no one answers.
    there is no solution on the internet under this subject.

    if anyone knows how to help me please contact me.

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