29 June, 2008

Romanian Rumble #2 - Telecom

After Romanian Rumble #1 - Elections .. here comes number 2 :)

Telecommunication in romania have been always terrible, ever since the 80s when, according to my parents, you had to wait for hours to get an international phone call initiated, and until now. Where the tariffs are very high, the service is bad, and the customer is not always right, and maybe not right at all sometimes!

In romania, there are currently 4 mobile phone operators, and 2 fixed phone operators.
The 4 mobile phone operators are: divided into 3 GSM Operators: the international brands Orange and Vodafone, and the regional operator cosmote (part of the greek OTE group). And 1 CDMA operator: Zapp Mobile.

The 2 fixed telephony operators are the legacy Romtelecom, which have been taken over by the greek OTE group during privatization. And the newer RDS-Link.

The 2 giants in GSM, Vodafone and orange, and ever since the starting days of GSM life in romania, when they were called Connex and Dialog respectively, weren't in that much of a concurrency! That is, unless marketing departments at those 2 companies call copy-cat-ing concurrency!

Both operators, had always had, and still have, pretty much of similar packages, promotions, and even tariffs! And tariffs are still pretty high, especially when you'd be a prepaid customer! And the prices are pretty similar that you'd think that they might even increase the tariffs at a certain time together!

Zapp and Cosmote are the real concurrency in-action guys in away or another, but are facing problems in having a decent coverage, especially in rural areas. Something that would affect most of romanians when thinking that most of the population are inherited from villages, and get to pass by the country side not less than once a week. Those problems caused Cosmote a temporary shutdown at a certain time, when they were called cosmorom, and had only several thousands of subscribers (maybe mostly employees of Romtelecom, the sister company). And got back only a couple of years ago after more than 3 years of shutdown, with much more cheaper prices than the other 2 giants (still expensive in comparison with us in Jordan, but well). And an incremental coverage.

Zapp Mobile on the other hand, being a CDMA network, went for mass-users contracts with firms, companies, and state-institutes, enabling their clients to have in-group conversations and calls for free. And is doing pretty well in this field, but, only in this field. (hint hint: CDMA devices suck!)

Anyway, other from the high prices (as high as paying 0.36 euro cents in some prepaid lines to call in another network!), customer service is very, very, very bad, And the employees responding your calls defend the company's mistakes like if its a family business or something!!! they simply dont give you solutions, they are simply there to prove that you, sucky customer, are wrong, and should be shot because you are revolting against their company's cheating and stealing! Of course, this stealing thingy is yet completely another story, the simplest example is sending an SMS to a non-existing number (by mistake), or sending an international number that might happen to be on their list of “companies we have agreements with”. Where you'd pay the 15 euro cents even if the SMS didnt reach and will never reach, even if the number is wrong, even if an SMS gateway is not that much of a big invention, but who knows how SMSes are transported in romania!

Haha, how SMSes are transported in romania! ... i like this expression :D by trucks maybe!! this year i roamed with Cosmote there, awesome enough that after i got off the Romanian capital roaming service went off!!! oops! Is roaming only in bucharest! Well, only after spending a couple of days in my Romanian home town I got my roaming back. And guess what, for around a week, SMSes sent to me today would reach me 3 days later! I mean, if you guys at cosmote would send our roaming SMSes by mail would be even if faster! And only during the last days i spent in romania i was able to check my credit!!!! Amazing, they spent 16 days trying to establish a live connection!!!
PS: last year the roaming with Cosmote was much more of a better experience!

Of course, tariffs and costumer “KAIR” in romtelecom's fixed telephony service is not better. I dont know about RDS, as i have never experienced them, but one thing i like about RDS is the fact how they turned from an ISP provider, to an independent ISP provider through their own cables, and improved their business to have fixed telephony through their data and TV cable services in big cities, and later in almost all of romania's cities through local existing cable providers as well. And Despite the low quality of their voice services (which are based on VoIP), but having 2 Mbps with 6 Euro/month without any other stuff to pay through their cable networks is just awesome.

Talking of which, networks and data-services in romania seem to be too much opposite to the telephony services. With no-need-for-land-line for internet, with local city and neighborhood lans throughout local ISPs, with cable internet, and with ADSL for those who wants it with speeds up to 40Mbps ... heard that orange Jordan, heard that TRC, 40Mbps for home users!!!!!!
All with unlimited bandwidths of course :D


abu_alfouz said...

This is very bad.

Mamdouh Al-Neif said...

First of all I would like to thank you for your exciting and interesting post, I've enjoyed reading it!

As far as my experience goes with Mobile networks and communications in Romania, I've had a pleasant experience with them. Even in places far away from the city the signal was almost full and the quality of the calls was perfect.

Also, ISP's in Romania are magnificent. To be honest with you, Jordan needs about 10 years to reach Romania in this matter. I am not talking about Bucharest or big cities, even villages in Romania have over 20Mbps. Whereas, in Jordan we have ONLY 2Mbps and its hard to believe that one day it will have 40Mbps in Jordan.

Thank you!

nasimjo© said...

I totally agree when it comes to internet. but i didnt have a good experience at all with telephony services out there, all those years, each and every year.
Coverage is good how ever, when it comes to vodafone and orange in romania, but other things i mentioned are not