Add to Technorati Favorites expat Abu Dhabi Dispatches: "Big E Bullshit"

Saturday, July 16, 2011

"Big E Bullshit"

I am getting damned tired of turning on my TV and computer only to find out there is another problem with my video and internet reception! I got up early this morning to do some work and catch up on emails only to find both devices blankly staring back at me with these vague "You will not be entertained or get any online stuff done for an indefinite amount of time" messages.




I live in a fairly new building complex and I know from my past technical experience that the network here is a state-of-the-art fiber optic system capable of wonderful things. Why the provider, "Big E", can't keep it operating is beyond me. I suspect a weakness in the human factor is to blame. The infrastucture is there but not enough skill, knowledge or planning to make it work reliably.



I literally spent hours on the telephone trying to work things out with sometimes ill-mannered, cryptic help desk personnel and have had many visits by technicians. One time a tech guy called when I was in the shower and because I failed to answer the phone right away he left and cancelled my service request. I couldn't get another appointment until 4 days later. They come, do some things to make it work and it ultimately fails later.

The services are not cheap either. There is no competition for my business. The UAE has some of the highest communication rates in the world. Back home there would be 3 or 4 providers vying for my money, I had a choice, Here, take it or leave it. For the amount I pay I expect much better service.

I cringe whenever I fire up the laptop or turn on the television as I anticipate yet another problem. With the monopoly here I can't expect it to get better as they have no incentive to improve. I am stuck and it seems I have to deal with it. Such a waste of my time and theirs..

So here I sit after yet another unproductive, tedious help desk call awaiting a field technician to contact me. Apparently its a hardware failure, seems to be not enough LEDs are lit up on my fiber optic modem. I have a 12 hour graveyard night shift later today and I'll bet the tech's call will come right in the middle of my afternoon snooze. Past experience almost guarantees it.

Nothing is easy! Dammit! I pay enough for online access and I expect it to be reliable. Did I mention the internet is censored here too?

4 comments:

Neil Roberts said...

Unfortunately, like everything else here, it's all driven by price. No company here buys on value, only price. Hence the "state of the art" cabling you have my friend is the cheapest that can possibly be sourced, that may or may not meet international standards, and will have been installed by the cheapest possible labour available as well. Not a good combination. Even if it isn't the infrastructure in your building, the data centre it all goes back to will have been build and is now operated under the exact same guiding principles on cost. This is likely to be the same reason the airline"BIg E" couldn't manage to stay online for a two hour promotion!

Frustrates the hell out of me - for the sake of a bit more up front investment all these companies could have an infrastructure that actually works!

Ace said...

Neil, you make a good point and I respect your expert opinion. Everything from skyscrapers to plumbing is built as cheaply as possible. I see it everyday in my less than year old flat. Never time to do it right but always time to do it over.

There are few places in the world where projects can be executed as inexpensively as here.Electricians in the US command $25+/hr but they know what they are doing. Here, they are pulling down $25/day if lucky and the difference in quality is telling.

This country is a developer's wet dream because of all the cheap and available labor. Any project in the West would be more expensive by orders of magnitude.

When I was selling my Jeep, all the callers were interested in was the price. They wanted to know what was the lowest I would sell it for. I countered with "why not come out to see it and make me an offer?", few were interested in doing that, numbers, not value is what they were interested in.

Very frustrating!

Anonymous said...

I just got back from holiday in a country where an 8MB connection is 60 dirhams a months. Yeah. 60. for 8MB.

I had to ask the tour guide 3 times if the ad poster was correct. It was. She was then horrified to learn that we pay 249 for 2MB here.

That said this country Im talking about has a population of at least 90 million. And the UAE has one (minus the labor that cant afford internet) of 5-6.

It is a matter of spreading the costs among the available subscribers.

If big E has 2 million internet subscribers, then Big T in the country I visited has at least 15 million. (Whole country only has 3 internet providers)

Add to this the margin of profit per user (that we of course will never be told, but I'm sure it's huge in the UAE) and you have a situation where prices cannot be lowered.

In places where big E and big Du are available, their prices are set within guidelines set by the TRA. So here, competition is institutionally marginalized.

So either one you choose will have a very comparable price, even if there is a margin to lower the price, they simply arent allowed to.

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