The Minister of Communications, Johnny Al-Qarm, was briefed, during a meeting with officials of the cellular companies “Alfa” and “Touch”, about the current reality of the network, weeks after the tariff adjustment, the technical problems still facing the two networks, and the progress made by the two companies. So far at the level of KPIs that will overcome the majority of these problems.
Al-Qarm revealed that “Lebanon has jumped 27 places in the global Ookla index for measuring internet speed. Today, Lebanon ranks 76 out of 140 countries, with an average speed of 25.35 megabytes per second, after the rate was 17.16 megabytes per second, and the goal is to reach The rate is 28 megabytes per second with the application of the plan. He stressed the importance of solidarity and cooperation for the success of the plan, and he asked the Heliopolis companies to involve all their employees in this plan, because everyone is concerned with the issue.
Touch, in turn, stated that all the problems it faces in terms of network performance are mainly related to the availability of electricity, especially since the largest part of it is outside its control, but it takes the issue very seriously to ensure the security of communications and cellular data for its customers in all Lebanese regions.
The Chairman of the Board of Directors and General Manager of “touch” company, Salem Itan, pointed out that “the company seeks to solve 80% of all the aforementioned problems by the end of November, which is the period agreed upon with the Ministry of Communications. The solution, in order to improve the service, the quality of communication, and ensure the continuity of the sector, is to achieve an improvement of about 10% in terms of finding solutions for a number of stations covered by the mentioned problems.”
In terms of network availability, he pointed out that touch has made a progress of 4.11% since the start of the plan, meaning that the network is now available at a rate of 87.50%, noting that the company’s goal is to reach 95% and all efforts are being made to speed up achieving this number. In parallel to solving most of the problems related to the electrical supply, the network is witnessing an improvement in the customer’s experience in using cellular data on the “touch” network, as it exceeded 77%, 5% more than it was a few weeks ago, and the last goal is to achieve an improvement in data quality by 87.5%. While the speed of information transmission witnessed a remarkable improvement by 15.25%, reaching 61%, compared to 75% as a final percentage that the company must achieve at the end of November.
Itani affirmed that “touch” teams of engineers, technicians and technicians are working day and night to complete the details of the plan agreed upon with the Ministry of Communications within the specified deadline, provided that our customers begin to feel a tangible difference in terms of the quality of communications and data service in the near future.
For his part, the Chairman of the Board of Directors of “Alfa” and its general manager, Jad Nassif, presented a map showing the distribution of Alfa stations and the percentage of network availability over the entire Lebanese territory. He pointed out that “60 percent of the regions enjoy a very high network availability rate that exceeds 90 percent and reaches 96 percent, such as Jbeil, Kesrouan and Western Bekaa, for example, while this percentage drops to less than 80 percent in other regions such as the capital, Beirut, and Marjayoun.” He pointed out that “the goal is to raise the network availability rate from 86 and 88 percent currently, which is the total rate in all of Lebanon, to 95 percent as an average.”
He pointed out that many factors affect the availability of services in a particular area, pointing out that the most influential factors, as it has become known, are electricity and thefts. He pointed out that “Alfa’s plan to enhance the availability of the network envisages dealing with each of these factors separately, and thus addressing the problems in each region separately, starting from the areas most affected by frequent power cuts, to achieving a network availability rate of 95 percent,” stressing that “Some areas will continue to enjoy a higher rate than this rate, and they are the areas least affected by the external factors that affect the network, which I mentioned.”
He pointed out that “Alfa’s technical team has started implementing the plan, which includes several steps to achieve the goal, pointing out that we have begun to see improvement. When the goal of the plan is achieved, which is to enhance the availability of the network, all performance indicators will automatically improve,” noting that “the goal is.” Reducing the disconnection rate to 0.25 percent (which is one of the best rates in the world) from 0.36 percent currently, improving the connection speed to 99.75 percent from 99.14 percent currently, and improving the quality of Internet service and speeds to 28 megabytes per second as I mentioned earlier. Nassif stressed that “the plan envisages two things: dealing with external factors that affect performance (such as electricity and thefts) and factors related to the network itself (such as replacing old batteries with highly efficient ones).”
Nassif stressed, “Alfa is committed to enhancing the quality of service based on our larger and more comprehensive goal, which is our commitment to ensuring the continuity of cellular service.” In this context, he noted, “Alfa is working to enhance the grid’s dependence on solar energy as an alternative to electricity, and to date 237 stations have been equipped with alternative energy, and work is underway to equip 50 other stations.” He said: “The numbers and statistics came after the tariff adjustment to confirm that cellular service is a necessity and not a luxury.” He pointed out that “we witnessed a decrease in the consumption of data and communication services in the first two months after the application of the new tariff. This decrease was within the expectations. But today we are witnessing stability in consumption, especially in terms of data, which indicates that the Lebanese adapted to the amendments that the sector witnessed, which had to be them to ensure continuity.
He pointed out that “Alfa”, in addition to this action plan, has developed a long-term plan based on technology for a better future for Lebanon and the Lebanese, and we have begun to lay the appropriate ground for it. He announced that “Alfa will launch in the first quarter of 2023 the voice communication service via the fourth generation VoLTE for 350 thousand Subscriber and device eligible for this service, which is a step towards the fifth generation. He revealed Alpha’s full readiness, both technically and humanly, to launch the fifth generation, as the company conducted technical experiments on 11 experiment and test stations that were built in several areas of Greater Beirut, where a speed of 1.8 gigabits per second was achieved, which is ten times higher than the current speeds.