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Harb promises faster Internet within a few weeks

Telecoms Minister Boutros Harb has reduced many phone and Internet service prices in Lebanon, a move he says brings the country inline with regional pricing. (The Daily Star/Dalati Nohra, HO)

BEIRUT: Telecommunications Minister Boutros Harb denied Friday allegations that Lebanon’s Internet speed had deteriorated significantly since he assumed office and promised that the service would improve in the coming few weeks.

Responding to reports which ranked Lebanon as having the second-worst Internet speed in the world, Harb said in a statement sent to the press that the reports lowered Lebanon’s ranking at the end of 2013 and at that time Nicolas Sehnaoui was in charge of the Telecoms Ministry.

“Some news media carried these reports, and without even saying when these surveys were conducted. The drop in Internet speed was a result of the wrong policies adopted by my predecessors,” Harb argued.

Harb also defended his decision to lower Internet rates – a move that some claimed caused congestion and a sharp drop in speed.

“Thanks to the measures I have taken, Internet speeds increased and the rates went down in order to increase consumption,” he added.

However, some Internet service providers and experts believe that state-run Ogero, which is responsible for the land line and Internet infrastructure, was not cooperating with the companies to increase the speed of the DSL.

Sehnaoui and other telecoms experts accused Ogero of withholding the release of E1 and other broadband equipment necessary for the improvement of Internet service and speed.

A telecoms expert told The Daily Star earlier that Ogero could increase the capacity for ISPs without buying additional capacity on two submarine telecommunication cables, IMEWE (India-Middle East-Western Europe) and ALEXANDROS (Cyprus, Egypt and France).

Harb said the measures he adopted caused the number of land line subscribers to increase from 769,000 to 892,000.

The statement said the number of mobile phones subscribers also rose by 6.8 percent and 3G users jumped by 36 percent since he took office.

Harb said Internet speed was expected to improve in the coming few weeks once Ogero enhances broadband capacity and infrastructure.

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on August 23, 2014, on page 4.

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Summary

Telecommunications Minister Boutros Harb denied Friday allegations that Lebanon's Internet speed had deteriorated significantly since he assumed office and promised that the service would improve in the coming few weeks.

However, some Internet service providers and experts believe that state-run Ogero, which is responsible for the land line and Internet infrastructure, was not cooperating with the companies to increase the speed of the DSL.

Harb said Internet speed was expected to improve in the coming few weeks once Ogero enhances broadband capacity and infrastructure.


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