The following could and should set a serious precedent and affect each and every one of us who pays a mobile phone bill. This post is a bit of a follow on to my last year’s epic;  BEWARE OF GEEKS BEARING GIFTS.


How many of you just pay your phone bills without ever checking them thoroughly? Mind you, I have asked that question before without much impact at all.  How many of you have paid hundreds of Dinars/Dollars to telecom providers for so called ‘data’ which you had no idea you were using?  Some of you have even encountered travel bans because of it (reference Bahrain).  I have a very close friend who tells me that his wife is currently paying off a hefty $1,500 (600 Dinars) bill in bits monthly all because she didn’t realize that her mobile was set to ‘DATA’  switched on.  I know of another Bahraini lady in absolute despair because she has a BD 3,500 bill ($10,000) for roaming charges which she had no idea about.  Silly lady you say?  Yes, she is, but she is culturally and naively innocent in many ways.  She has no idea how telephones work from country to country, no idea that roaming is what it is and she just carried on sending pix and Whatsapping.  Duh!!  By default, most Post Paid customers are automatically ‘roaming’ enabled, whereas Pre Paid most have to activate it.  Another lady I know has a hefty bill from just visiting Dubai, where like inter Europe, it should be near a local call, but it is in fact beyond premium.  She was not knowingly using data, but didn’t have a clue about ‘switching roaming data off’.  She didn’t even know she had to,  or where or how she could do that with her phone.       It’s all as slippery as a Soprano’s plot.

Well, any testy lawyers who might happen to read this, me thinks there is a little gold mine in the making if you wish to pursue the cases of what must be thousands of customers who have been duped, with grossly outrageously inflated prices for data which nobody asked for in the first place.

Which is exactly the crux of the issue; you as a consumer never asked for it, never signed a contract to accept it.  In fact, you probably had no idea you were being charged horrendous rates, thus in the eyes of any credible, moral, legitimate law these charges are fraudulent; it is as simple as that.  In America now, this issue has just been legally addressed and T-Mobile will be ordered to pay back hundreds of millions of dollars of ill-gotten profit to its subscribers, simply because none of them asked or signed for the service, product or data.  It is not a ‘loop-hole’ it is blatant scamming.  I for one expect this to snowball and the fallout could be stunning, just as Brazil’s 7-1 defeat (predicted by me  exactly) by Germany.

However, big business and no doubt media worried about its advertising revenue have apparently closed ranks and publicity is scarce still.


Déjà vu Last year I wrote (and blogged) of a case where in just one month I had been charged over BD 400 by telecos who had billed me just for apparently ‘receiving’ erroneous premium rate text messages and making weird calls, none of which I asked for or indeed subscribed to.  Many were never received in the first place and absolutely no calls made,  but listed on the bill.  Sadly, not a single person appeared to care or respond to my missives, so like always the corporations get clean away with it in Bahrain and elsewhere, except with me.  I fought the issue tooth and nail and Zain kindly refunded over BD350 (just under $1,000) having thoroughly investigated and logging that it was not my IMEI number.

The former Lightspeed very reluctantly refunded about $100 never accepting that it was their fault.

Batelco refused outright to refund BD 9 ($23) which would surely have been BD 900 had I not caught it in time. The so-called investigator even lied to me telling me that they had checked and that it was indeed my IMEI number, yet not a single SMS was actually received on that particular phone, all of it being a scam.  In the end, I ordered the Visa gateway to block any transactions from my numbers, so tough on the scammers and even tougher on the mobile phone companies who claim up to 40% of the SMS revenue.

Now out of the blue,  last month we received a bill for near $400.  Batelco told me it was for ‘data off package’.  It was a Samsung S4 that had been switched off for a few weeks (while I was away in the States) and on re-charging, unbeknownst to any of us, automatically switched “data on – wireless off’.  Within hours, Batelco sent an SMS warning that our ‘credit limit’ was approaching.  Who knows, perhaps the phone did some automatic update for just a few megs.  These few megs off package are set at an extortionate rate, which is beyond reality and the Telecoms Regulatory Authority should wake up and smell the roses and get this hideous rip-off sorted.

So what anyway?  I really don’t care Data on or off, why should we care, we don’t have a package.  For 15 years, or more this number has been a constant $5 a month, (BD 2), nobody making any calls on it ever as it is only a relay phone to receive office callers on the land line.  Now suddenly the telco wants BD145 for data which should not have been available on that number in the first place.  As I advised the Call Centre agent. He said;  ‘But you don’t have a package on this phone”.  My response was just that; ‘You are absolutely right and obviously not a lot gets past you does it?  We never signed for any data on this number and have ‘never’ asked for any and furthermore, we don’t want any data, so whatever scam you are working at whatever stupendously high rate, it isn’t going to work on me’.  In effect the T-Mobile ruling will prevail and set the precedent and hopefully worldwide.   If you don’t ask for something, don’t sign for something, don’t want something, how the hell can a telecommunications company charge you for it and get away with it?   It cannot be legally justified whichever way one looks at it.

There is no such thing as a ‘free phone’ , free laptop, free TV either.  The Telecommunications Regulatory Authority do nothing about it, the government is not interested and there are just no advertising morals, let alone standards, so all this marketing scam goes on unabated.  It is all just a ploy to hold you hostage for  up to 2 years on jumped up contracts which include the price of the device – trust me.  No matter where you are,  incompetent and deluded dudes calling themselves ‘Marketing Specialists’ rule the roost and get clean away with it, giggling away at the deceit.   Hundreds of thousands go alone with it, because it is an easy way to get hire purchase.


I P a lot!

Another pathetic revenue scam is; telecos claiming some sort of  ‘difference’  between voice traffic and data.  In the past this could be somewhat justified but not since the advent of IP routed traffic on data trunk highways.  It is ALL DATA now.  You’ve all heard of VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) and most of us use Skype.  There is no difference.  It is all ONES AND ZEROS. Everything is routed by a matrix and your telephone number is really nothing much different from an IP address.  Once the infrastructure is in place,  and it is, it costs no more to link to Los Angeles from Bahrain as it does Riffa to Isa Town.  This applies to anywhere else in the developed world.  Even outside of that, the delivery method might be slightly different, but taking a call at the North Pole for example, the technology and method is EXACTLY the same nowadays.   In fact, look up another blog of mine on ‘Bandwidth’ and test for yourself.  In general, Skype has clearer calls than over your mobile phone.  If your network speed it slow, then sure it might break up whereas it does not, or should never break on a mobile network, but mobile voice is so muffled in general.  It does not have to be because these networks have bandwidth coming out their arses, but they just can’t get past the monopoly and 3 khz doctrine,   so why should phone manufacturers concern themselves with hi-fidelity microphones and speakers?

Zain and Viva are playing the HD voice card with 4G, when all could have easily done much better with 3G, but they are all too anal and it is endemic across the world, except perhaps America as was.  However with the imported British Telecom and Cable & Wireless mentality in more recent years, with the likes of T-Mobile, nothing creative or abstract is ever considered, until a competitor does it first, then they copy.  In recent years, competitors have been non telecom schooled geeks who actually force progress on these dinosaurs holding the world to ransom.  Across current telephone networks set to operate as they are, there is no such thing as CD quality voice.  Whatever HD is supposed to represent it is all big time BS.   For a start, the very cheap all singing, all dancing Chinese switches which seem to be growing ever popular outside of Europe run at a piddly 8 bit – 8 khz highly compressed format.  This is standard Huawei format.       By comparison CD quality , which is NOT high definition, is of course 44.1. khz – 16 bit.   The higher the bit rate, the higher the sampling frequency,  obviously the higher the quality.


Back to this 145 Dinars and any one else out there who has been burned; sure they will take my number away and hopefully take me to court eventually to try and recover this amount. This is when the fun will begin and we all need to get together to make it perfectly clear that;  No signature, no request, no need, then no money honey either!  ‘Off’ being the second word!


Don’t tell me there is no ‘Illuminati’ (no need to buy the book) and Apple don’t attend those decadent parties of extreme deviance.  Wondering about the ‘apple’ symbol, I am now very  suspicious of the significance within the society.

Nobody fixed the iPhone5 ‘no network’ issue.  The loss of passwords when coming in and out of known wifi haunts. The low battery retention or the heat and the sudden demise altogether after just a month or so. Apple lost their credibility for many over this, but they will get away with it.  After all, some iPhone5 models were working ok-ish, depending on the batch.   Nobody cared and no main stream media picked up the story of Apple’s woes with it and their silence over the issue. Sending back as many as 8 million faulty devices to Taiwan in May 2013, is a major Toyota size recall, but NO!   Not a blink from anywhere. ‘Wait for the IOS7 they say, all will be fixed.  Not only 7 but a revamped  iPhone5 S.  Never mind that most of us forked out over 500 quid for a heap of trash.   Let us see what the 64 bit S brings,   Or should that be; ‘Let us pray that it is improved’.

I love the iPhone, but maybe Apple or the Chinese tried to be a little too clever. As a comms engineer in my past life, I have a gut feeling that the iPhone5 woes are hardware rather than software.  Not that I could open a mobile phone these days and figure out what is going on inside, but the principles have to be the same.  GPRS, EDGE, 3G, 4G and so on, all accommodated on the one device.  All different waves lengths and many different algorithms to deal with from an antenna reception point of view. Yes it could well have been software, whereby in the switching of wavelength requirements, something was not right.  However, and logically, that does not explain why some iPhone5 releases were ok, or seemed to be ok.  (People are so fickle.  If you call some of those OK phones, you might still get the ‘This phone is switched off’ response and everyone just blames the network).

I got so fed up with my iPhone 5 and my provider Zain, doing nothing about it, simply because they could not, it was out of their hands.  Within 6 weeks of owning the phone, it died.  It would not charge and the existing charged withered away like a rotting corps.  What could Zain do?  No replacement other than change your iPhone for another smart phone of a different type.  This is exactly what I did.  I was advised by my buddies in Zain to go for the Samsung Galaxy S4, which I did.  I have had the stunning Dell Streak for a couple of years now, so I know the Android operating system enough to find my way around a bit.  I also have an earlier Samsung Galaxy of the small type.   Slowly I was getting used to the S4, but more importantly, I NEVER lost a single call with this phone, so please please please all you Zain doubters out there, stop blaming the network for this particular issue – it is the iPhone 5.   Not that the network itself is by any means perfect, as we all know it aint for all mobile providers.  Viva Bahrain have exactly the same iPhone 5 problems as no doubt do hundreds of other providers around the world.  All of which preferred to keep their mouths shut.  The marketing departments absolutely shit scared to mention any issues if the other carrier didn’t.  Very sad, very sad indeed.

So where was I?  Oh yes; I say that I ‘was’ getting used to my S4, when my UK provider EE/T Mobile, decided to give me the new Sony Experia T. There is something about ‘love at first fight’ with it. Fight I did, until I got it working on net, sending data.  It required a few reboots to hold the settings, but now all seems tickety-boo and some rather sensible ergonomic advantages over the Samsung S4.  Let’s see how I get on with it.

Meantime, I did try to buy an iPhone5 S while in the UK this week (Sept 2013) but that proved difficult and the price was well out of order.  All readers of this blog would dearly love to know if the iPhone5 S has been fixed.  Post please.


UDATE 3: 24th NOV. 2012:  Zain Bahrain investigated deeper and responded to my requests to check the IMEI numbers of the erroneous calls made and the bogus SMS we supposedly received and responded to.  Bingo!  Not us.  A mighty BIG thanks to Ruzaina and indeed Khalifa who with great pains, sifted through the mess and removed all charges.  That is not the end of it though, they are still determined to get to the bottom of this.   Bahrain Telecommunications (Batelco) supposedly investigated for a few minutes and came to the conclusion that I/we had made the calls and responded to the the SMS thus closed the case.  Lightspeed removed the charge after a huge battle, but are still convinced I/we made the calls or sent the SMS.  AMEN…..or maybe not.  Read the story below.

UDATE 2:  4th NOV. 2012:   Zain Bahrain just confirmed – so far 2 of my mobile numbers fraudulently charged.  A total of 95 scam SMS supposedly received and replied to during the last month,  plus calls to Madagascar, which defeats Lightspeed’s assessment that I was physically responsible for the calls. (See below Scam 1).  Total value of the theft now amounts to not far short of BD 200 (Over US$ 500)   This is is so serious now, it is a war. 


Geek warning!  (See update 1:  03 Nov 2012 below). Today’s blog is about you and me getting fleeced daily by criminals using perfectly legitimate telecommunication channels.  For good measure, I’ll throw in Jimmy Saville’s name  – the Briish disc jockey who is thankfully being posthumously … um…. buried for  fixing his jimmy where he shouldn’t have. A distasteful man who I well described, if not warned about 40  odd years ago. Owz abaht that then..?  Unlike a Pakistani marriage, the two subjects are not related. I know, I normally rattle on about media corruption or corruption in the media and the occasional telecom rant, but bear in mind telecommunications is everything media, it carries media, it is a medium, so in this case, the two subject are related.

To get your hackles up and battle dress on, let me inform you that you and me are paying through the nose for thin air and legally being ripped off big time by crooks manipulating our everyday communication systems.  My household (IP based) telephone has been hacked with someone making extraneous calls and nobody wants to admit it.  It never rains, it pours and our mobiles have been raped too.

Here’s a scenario; you’ve just received a massive phone bill demanding you pay a stupid amount above what you normally pay per month, or you’ve just topped up your credit on a prepaid system only to find

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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

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The original article has been removed – now updated   (Draft 5 – 30th June 2010 )

With number portability about to be unleashed upon the nation of Bahrain, I am busy doing a multi piece on Telecommunications Companies in all their glory – so  WAIT!!

Talking about putting the cat among the pigeons, being able to strap your favourite, long time held, number to any of the providers is going to really set off a typhoon of incentives one hopes.  Imagine, you have a great ‘3333xxxx’ number, which you don’t want to lose but you don’t happen to like the provider; then simply port your existing number to a competitive carrier.  Of course, there has to be a catch coming for sure, nothing in telecoms is done without it being a potential honey trap; like  if you want a ’33’ number for example but you are not a Viva subscriber, then we might have to pay big bucks to get one from the original provider – or –  will all providers be able to issue any string.  Hmmmmm!  Deep and meaningless written like that, so read on.

As for the ’33’ thing; this post was all about ‘start-up privilege which as of June 2010, still exists, but if number portability hits Read more