Four reasons Lebanon’s internet is so slow
Broadband in Lebanon faces layers of obstacles
Though Lebanon has a high international capacity coming in through underwater fiber optic cables — to the likes of several hundreds of megabits per second (Mbit/s) — internet speeds at the actual level of the user are overwhelmingly low. In Beirut, they average about 3.2 Mbit/s according to the Ookla Net Index for household downloads, calculated over a 30 day period ending March 18. This is not considered broadband by modern definitions, and pales in comparison to the global average of 22.3 Mbit/s, calculated over the same time frame.
But the problem is manifold: getting broadband internet in the country faces layers of obstacles. Here are four of the main reasons why internet speeds in Lebanon are suffering.
THE BRAND NEW FIBER OPTIC NETWORK IS NOT ON
Lebanon’s newest fiber optic network, by all appearances, is completely switched off. The project was commissioned in 2011 by then Minister of Telecommunications Nicolas Sehnaoui and implemented by local civil works company Consolidated Engineering and Trading (CET) in partnership with international telecommunications company Alcatel– Lucent at a cost of $55 million.
This network connects the bulk of the central offices (COs) in the country as well as heavy users such as businesses, universities, hospitals, mobile operators and the army, with the newest generation of cables. This network, however, has not yet been approved for further development and use by the new administration under Sehnaoui’s successor Boutros Harb — and thus has yet to be switched on. The foggy reason given by advisors to the ministry is that there are mistakes made by contractors that are still in the process of being corrected.
That means we are still relying on older infrastructure to relay data traffic between COs and heavy users, which is mostly made out of copper, save for a small fiber optic loop connecting five COs including
Lebanon’s anemically slow internet cannot be considered broadband by any measure