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The Week That Was in Bahrain

With temperatures soaring above 45 degrees Celcius, summer is hot in Bahrain. And it is getting hotter, thanks to the escalating war being waged against local telecommunications company Batelco, which has changed its Internet packages overnight in newspaper announcements and emails to customers on May 11.

To add insult to injury, customers who had no say in the changes, had their accounts altered automatically. It was a take it or leave it deal, especially as the company has what amounts to a monopoly over the local Internet market.

“Batelco's current Broadband customers will automatically be upgraded during this month,” said the Press release.

What made some customers hit the rooftop, was the sugary language the Press release was coated with, especially when people who exceed their thresholds and who would have to pay through the nose, were being told that they would have unlimited Internet usage of UP TO … hehe

Are the increases a genuine plan to improve services or are they just another scheme to limit internet accessibility, especially in the poor areas of Bahrain?

In addition to Arabic and English websites (with the spokesman for the English site being no other than the Godfather of Bahrain's bloggers Mahmood Al Yousif) protesting what consumers alledge are unfair packages, pressure is mounting on the company to reverse its decision in unconventional methods, not witnessed in the island kingdom before.

They included a public meeting to discuss and protest the changes, buttons on blogs calling for an end to what many customers see as unfair practices by the company, a Boycott Batelco day, making the company's CEO as Mahmood's Scapegoat (!!), a rap song , a comparison of customers to indentured servants , car stickers and unconfirmed reports about calls for a demonstration against the telecom provider. *

Amid all these disgruntled customers, there is just one blogger who seems to be very comfortable with the changes.

“Frankly speaking, 15GB is way more than what I and my family require (my sources at Batelco tell me that I have been averaging 6GB of Bandwidth throughout the past 3 months) and I count myself a medium internet user, as in.. It’s always a couple of full divx movies, a constant flow of MP3’s for the car.. In addition to heavy news browsing and obviously this lovely blog I maintain,” writes emoodz.

I am glad at least someone is happy!

* The only reference I saw for the demonstration calls is here.

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