Sunday, January 16, 2011

Internet in Lebanon

My dear reader, please accept my apology for being absent these past couple of weeks. It is neither the holiday festivities nor a lack of ideas that have kept me from posting, but internet problems.

You see, when we moved into our apartment this past September, we were told that in order for us to get an ADSL connection we would have to apply to the mayor’s office for a phone number, which in Lebanon - it seems - is rather difficult. It involves several trips to the city hall, paperwork in Arabic only, and most importantly, some hundreds of dollars. Seeing that we don’t really need a phone in our apartment (we use cell phones), and that we’re hoping to move into faculty housing next summer, we decided this was not worth the time, effort or money required – especially in light of the fact that we were able to connect to the university campus wireless network from our apartment. I’m saying “were” here, and I think you might be able to guess where this is going. Granted, it was never a super-strong signal, but consistent and enough to even stream videos and such at times; enough for us, and probably not much worse than we would get with our own ADSL anyways.

This was all fine until a couple of days before Christmas, when suddenly the wireless signal got very weak. We could only access internet on the balcony, and it was extremely slow; Blogger was out of the question, as were posting, sending or viewing pictures, and most important, Skype was impossible. For a while we thought maybe things would improve after the break, but when the signal stayed weak, we ended up buying the only other alternative really, a WISE wireless dongle. Now we have internet anywhere in the house and it’s consistent, although the up-and download amount is very limited and we have to be careful so we don’t run out. The dongle itself cost $250 and every month you want to use it, you buy a refill card, which costs $50. I know; it’s expensive! But what can we do? Sigh.

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