As I have said before; calling granny on your phone is very different these days to the good old times of waiting for little mechanical or digital relays to  physically connect your calls on hard lines. Nowadays, what the geeks call 4G is not only different-to-air radio frequencies, but a virtual matrix and done by mirrors in the ether and we are nothing but little IP addresses (INTERNET PROTOCOL); which is why you can move a thousand miles away from your roots and still take your old loved and cherished telephone number with you – or indeed change providers/operators – or if they would let you and we had suitable phones, send text messages to a land-line handset or box (which nobody does yet as greedy telecos don’t think there is any money in it).

For sure, scamming has been going on for years and long before the Americans starting getting twitchy with huge telecom switch providers like the Chinese Heuwai , Geggyboy was not waxing so lyrical about it or indeed the caliber of those installing it.  Just ask any of the Batelco technical boys on on the platform. They are sick to death of me bleating about this or that.  I get shouted down loudly by many in the biz, dispelling my theory that any IP based system can be easily hacked at customer level, but they respond by saying that it is ‘unlikely’ and that I am a bit of donkey not knowing what I am talking about.  It is sort of like the default reaction when you hear the name ‘Geg Hopkins’ or you are unfortunate enough to meet me for the first time and have to endure my gesticulating.

All well and good, but my theory is that it is a doddle for the initiated to quickly hack a network.  For sure the FBI

and a number of unstable governments around the world have ‘clocked’ that one already, ‘automatically’ filtering off a zillion calls and even maybe the voice to a huge disk array in microseconds.  It is not only we plebs and minions who need to watch out, the big boys and bad governments will also need their radars buzzing overtime. Had the Internet, 4G and cloud computing been around just a few decades back,  President Nixon’s would have been gone the same afternoon the story broke. I’m also sure Bill Clinton’s wayward trouser cigar story would have revealed a more Jimmy Saville-esq behaviour and perhaps he wouldn’t quite be the Janus statesman the world stupidly reveres him as now.

Oh yes! Gone are the days of a physical human clipping a couple of crocodile grips on your phone line and listening in,  Hell, crooks don’t even have to get out of bed to tap into your own little domains, be it Internet or mobile phones.  I was with the Bahrain Telecommunications Company when we launched the GSM system way back and we did a video presentation explaining how impossible it was to actually hack GSM, compared to the old analogue mobile system which anyone could listen to.  Well, we say impossible, but if a parallel system costing millions is installed, matching code for code, then nothing is sacred.  (  I don’t think I am supposed to say that….. Listening hard now for a knock at that door).



Like an old record, I repeat myself endlessly until hopefully someone listens.  Most never do. Telecom people are smart, some of the nicest, friendliest guys on the planet, but helpful they are not. I have mixed and work with them everyday since leaving university in 1976.  Even during my radio days, I still dabbled and was always close.  The telecom fraternity are incredibly inventive, geeky,  but not creative and none will ‘do something first’, but rather copy the competitor if there was money to be made or lost if they didn’t copy.  Hence the slowness of monopolies.  Even in the free market environment, the money bags behind the infrastructure of licensing still rub their hands together with monopoly glee and cannot think out of the box.

Over 20 years ago now, still protected and registered, I came up with a world class – world wide – family oriented telephone game which was put on hold (pun intended) – just waiting for the 4G implementation. (Yes we knew it was coming then – none of today’s technology is new, only the implementation of it and market forces er.. forced it on them.  If it wasn’t for the Internet demand, 4G would still be like 5G now – going nowhere).  I had secret meetings with global operators, including Cable & Wireless and they loved the idea.  In the UK they froze it in fear of jamming the trunk (which it would have).  If my idea has caught on, I guarantee 4G would have been up and running long ago.

In the meeting rooms, present were extremely well spoken, very educated men in suits, wearing little round spectacles speaking with squeaky voices, showing signs of early balding through intelligence.  Happy and dedicated family men, also dedicated to the job – all came to the same conclusion without a hint of sleaze on their faces.  “Can we make it a sex based game?   What you have is brilliant, but if we convert the general knowledge aspect of it to include sex, we will quadruple or more the revenue’.  I KID YOU NOT! Some of those guys I am still in contact with and will read this blog and smirk for sure.

It is a fact; by default, all telecom companies make obscene money out of misery in the world. Transmitting the most perverted content imaginable makes them money, but they wash their hands of it as being ‘only the carriers’.    If it is a war, scared stiff, the first thing everyone does is get on the phone to family and friend and it aint free.  I think I have mentioned it before somewhere.  During the first Gulf War when I was on air most of the day, I jokingly used to say; ‘You are listening to Radio Bahrain from somewhere Bahrain and the latest updates on ‘Desert Storm’, sponsored by  AT & T in association with Batelco’. I used to get phone calls from executives, pretending to laugh. Oh, they didn’t like that, but most in Batelco  management were mates of mine so half agreeing, took the  ‘joke’.



Will telecom companies comply if this corrupt means to relieve one of their money through mobile phone scams is made illegal?  Some will still do it with impunity, claiming they ‘didn’t know it was illegal.  Corruption exists in every country.  Funny though, it is perceived as being worse in some countries than others.  I doubt that.  It is just that some countries have laws to deal with it if you get caught.  One reason that I love living in Bahrain and the Bahraini people because you know where you stand, you know your limits whether it is religious or just part of the culture and despite what the rest of the world might believe, ‘we can speak out’ here and indeed challenge. Not that you will get anywhere with it, but if you hit the right desk, a solution can be achieved near instantly. You either join the corruption, which is more normal, or get it removed without a court case.  There is a standing joke locally which came from the early financial troubles of the National Airline, that being ‘the more of a crook you are, the higher you get promoted’.   There is plenty of proof of that.  Nothing has ever been done about that so perhaps I should rest my case.

It is a system different to the West and one gets used to it and what might be seen as criminal corruption in some places, is sort of esoteric in ‘nature’ in Bahrain (and in most Islamic countries I feel), but physically exoteric, hence it sort of appears as an open book. It is blatant and a culture that has practiced it for centuries.  By class, the lowest level corruption is not recognized as such because they perceive that the hierarchy, rich and connected get away with it, so if they can, so can we and see absolutely nothing wrong with it.  Oddly, it doesn’t always have to be a high powered influential person if you want to get things done, sometimes it is just a good friend who knows his or her way around.  It can be quite enlightening.

The SMS scam is just one and I doubt it is high powered influential people doing it. In fact I don’t think much of it originates in Bahrain.  The bits that do are generally very amateur and could well be some low life of no significance who perceives again that there is absolutely nothing wrong with what they are doing.  It could even be a recognized corporation who just see nothing illegal about ripping us off.   For example; I know many a company from here to the Far East offering Ring Tones to the telcos and some controlled by influential people.  I don’t know one which pay royalties for the music they use.  Perfectly legal – not. I don’t know one that offers up any sort of quality, especially audio wise.    If you read the countries copyright laws it is clear that  piracy is illegal.  It is just ignored and who is in the area to enforce it or collect those royalties?   To me, doing business like this shows lack of imagination and acumen.  One so rich and thus powerful should be doing something constructive and useful for the nation.

Speaking of royalties; I repeat: There is only one source of radio and TV broadcasting in little old Bahrain thus it is a monopoly, yet only one company was given the contract to monopolize these channels. (All fixed by a very very floppy ‘legal’ tender, which should have been a ‘pitch’. Yes, art is pitched for, not tendered. Unfortunately, so few see broadcast media as an art)  It is insanity where creative art and professionalism dies. Talk about counter productive.  A monopoly running a monopoly for nothing other than money has no competition so why bother to contribute in any way shape or form.  The people who control this don’t seem to understand the concept of broadcast nor its principals.  If you stole a work of art from the Lourve and sold this commodity for millions without giving the artist or creator of this  source of revenue a cent in return, it would be just that, theft!  The radio station plays music as a product to get listeners. The music is a product created by the talents of thousands of great artists.  Advertising is sold by this monopoly using this platform as a source of revenue and yet not a single cent is ever paid to the artists in royalty.  No shame!

Let’s face it, f you were a locust and given the only field to nibble on, what would you do?  You’d strip the field bear and put absolutely nothing back and certainly wouldn’t care about any locust flying in behind you.


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