The Lebanese want answers from their telecommunications minister over unfair mobile companies

Published January 25th, 2017 - 12:31 GMT
#AQuestionForTheCommunicationsMinister has replaced #TurnOffYourLine (Wikimedia Commons)
#AQuestionForTheCommunicationsMinister has replaced #TurnOffYourLine (Wikimedia Commons)

Following boycotts of the Lebanon’s two major telecommunications companies earlier this month, it seems that the Lebanese are still angry about mobile services and costs.

#AQuestionForTheCommunicationsMinister trended overnight on Tuesday as Twitter users demanded answers from Jamal al-Jarrah, Minister for Telecommunications.

Some were concerned about the duopoly operated by the Alfa and MTC Touch providers in Lebanon. The state-owned companies provide the government’s second-largest revenue after taxation.

When will we have competing companies to bring down the prices like in all other countries of the civilized world? We are fed up of swindling and greed.

Why don’t you want to allow a third company in Lebanon? I swear it will bring you more money.

#AQuestionForTheCommunicationsMinister and for all the ministers. When will you understand that the benefit of the people is more important than your profit and the profit of private companies? Have mercy on us…

The other issue concerning Lebanese mobile users are the conditions imposed by the companies for prepaid mobile users:

I would like to know how we are different from other countries in terms of telecommunications services, and why we have to charge our simcards at the end of every month?

In Lebanon, the two mobile companies require that prepaid customers recharge their phones with money every thirty days, or face having their sim cards cut off and any remaining credit seized. This was one of the main grievances of the youth movement that called for a one-day boycott of mobile services on January 8.

Many were also concerned about phone reception, especially in the south of the country:

Do you realize that this is the stance most Lebanese people depend upon to catch a bit of [a signal] to send [a message]?

Why is the 3g for MTC really bad in the south?

In Lebanon, mobile phone costs are a serious business. In a study of 16 countries, Jordan-based Arab Advisors Group found that it has the highest prepaid cellular package rate in the Arab world.  Medium users pay 135.5 dollars a month, a massive sum in relation to the minimum wage of 450 dollars.  Still, some on Twitter took a less serious tone:

I know you don’t know much about communications and for that reason the questions won’t be hard. First question: Do you like soft meat [beautiful women]?

Following the boycott earlier this month, the Minister reportedly promised to meet with leaders of the campaign and to investigate what he called their legitimate demands. Given this latest online attack on the state of Lebanese telecommunications, howver, it seems that the young people of Lebanon are not yet satisfied with his response.

RA

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