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Algérie Télécom: The only choice?

“if there is someone who cannot stop complaining about Algérie Télécom it is me, so it is time for me to share my complaints with you,” opens 19-year old Algerian blogger Houda in her post Algérie Telecom, le bon choix.

The privatisation of Algérie Télécom (AT),- the main operator of Internet services and fixed and mobile telephone services,- was called off in 2008, at the same time as second operator, Lacom, exited the market after three years of operations, citing regulatory barriers that made it impossible to compete with Algerie Telecom, leaving AT with a virtual monopoly over Algeria's internet services.

AT is notorious amongst bloggers for its poor service[FR]. The frequent losses of service have been the topic of much complaint over the years, spurring complaints amongst bloggers and even a set of YouTube videos expressing the exasperation with AT's service[FR].

Houda continues:

Le premier truc qui vous attire dans un spot pour AT que ce soit à la T.V ou bien sur les bannières accrochées et que vous lisez 100 fois chaque fois que vous êtes chez AT pour payez la facture et que vous attendez derrière une interminable file d’attente c’est leur slogan mensonger et qui me fout une rage indescriptible « LE BON CHOIX »
Non serieux, c’est ça le slogan « le bon choix »?

The first thing that catches your eye in an ad for AT, be it on T.V. or on the hanging banners you read 100 times each time you are at AT to pay the bill whilst you are waiting behind an endless queue is their deceptive slogan which provokes an indescribable rage:”THE RIGHT CHOICE”.
No seriously, that's their slogan “the right choice”?

A mock-up of AT's banner, with "The only choice" replacing the original advertisment's "The right choice"

Houda continues:

revenons sur la définition du mot choix :
choix: Ensemble de choses, d’éléments, etc., parmi lesquels on peut choisir (source: larousse.fr)
Je crains justement que l’ensemble de choses n’est pas là! on ne choisit pas Algérie Telecom mais c’est une condamnation, le crime? être algérien
AT n’a rien d’un bon choix, en faite c’est un mauvais choix qu’on est tous obligés de faire mais ça n’a rien d’étonnant car en Algérie on suit un système binaire, du O ou du 1

Lets have a look at the definition of “choice”:
Choice: A set of elements or a variety etc…from among which we can choose.
I am afraid the “set of elements” is not there! Algérie Telecom is not a choice- its a condemnation! and the crime? Being Algerian.
AT is in no way the right choice- in fact it is a bad choice, but one we are all obliged to make- not surprising as in Algeria we follow a binary system, a system of 0 or 1.

Houda lists the other areas where her choice is limited:

Le 0 représente des entreprises qui n’existent pas (et n’existeront probablement jamais); comme une industrie mécanique qui nous fait des voitures algérienne (ohh oui je me rappelle si bien de cette promesse), ou l’existence d’une base de livres comme « amazon » ou « ebay ou encore un « »mcdo » ou un « ikea » bon assez parlé des bits prenants la valeur ‘0′
UN SEUL fournisseur d’accès à internet, UNE SEULE chaîne de télé, UN SEUL moyen de payement, UN SEUL divertissement pour les jeunes (internet)..

The 0 represents companies that dont exist (and probably never will); like an automotive industy that will make us Algerian cars (ooh yes, i remember that promise very well), or the existence of a database of books like “amazon” or “ebay”, or even a “mcdo” (McDonalds) or “ikea” …well, enough about things with a value of ‘0’
Only ONE Internet Service Provider, only ONE TV channel, only ONE method of payment, only ONE form of entertainment for youth (the internet)..

Houda‘s frustration spills over into other aspects of her life:

bref, on devrait faire avec, on devrait accepter la situations, et accepter que les jeunes préfèrent traverser la mer et courir les dangers plutôt que de ne RIEN faire, accepter que notre connexion sera médiocre jusqu’à la fin des temps, accepter qu’il n’y aura qu’une seule chaine de télévision qui diffuse des programmes débiles (comme el fhama ou haj lakhder), accepter que l’information du journal de 8 soit mensongère, accepter qu’on vivra de tabous et de parlotes sociales inutiles et signes de sous développement, accepter qu’on mangera du couscous chaque Vendredi….

Well, we should make do with it, we should accept the situation: accept that young people prefer to cross the sea and court trouble instead of doing NOTHING, accept that our (internet) connection will be mediocre until the end of time, accept that there will only ever be one television channel which broadcasts ridiculous programmes (like el fhama or haj lakhder), accept that the 8 o'clock news will be lies, we should accept that we live with taboos, useless social chatter, and signs of under-development, accept that we will eat couscous every Friday…

Despite all the her frustrations, which are shared by many other bloggers, Houda finishes on a positive note:

Malgré tout, je suis quelqu’un qui croit énormément en son pays et est pour que les choses puissent s’améliorer un beau jour et que j’y contribue !

In spite of it all, i am somebody who believes strongly in my country, who believes one good day things will get better, and i contribute!

As one commenter, ButterflyOfFire, who has detailed his frustrations with AT and has a YouTube channel [FR] which features videos commenting on technology in Algeria states:

Il faudrait bien qu’un jour le changement vienne.

Someday a change will surely come.

3 comments

  • Hello, i’m houda (and i wrote this article ^^) i just want to thank you so much for this one, i’m so happy to read it and hope you will read me again! :-)

  • Thank you for translating Houda’s post. There are too much things to say about Algeria Telecom internet services.

    Thank you Houda too :)
    Salutations amicales

  • Marchosias

     It’s good to hope that things will change in Algeria
    Me i stopped to hope anything positively about because i didn’t see anything positive since years,i don’t think things gonna change in fact I’m afraid it’s gonna get worse

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