The “additional” gig money trap

One of the most interesting items in your Lebanese internet bill is the “additional consumption” or “استهلاك إضافية” which is the third row.

The basic DSL plan at 24,000LL plus the line service fee of 12,000LL (first and second rows) comes out to a total of 36,000LL or $24.

This may not sound like much, but it only provides 1mbps of speed (one of the world’s absolute slowest) and includes a mere 4GB of monthly usage, including both uploads and downloads.

Obviously 4GB isn’t difficult to exceed. Even if you are not watching movies (which is nearly impossible at that speed) basic use of Skype and the occasional low-res Facebook video or application update will run you past that threshold in no time.

Last month for example, I spent 20 gigs, so my additional usage was 16 gigs. The cost per exceeded gig is 6,000LL ($4) so my total additional bill was 96,600LL or $64.4

Add this to the basic internet and line fees of $24 and you have a total of some $88 for the world’s slowest internet. 

Oh and let’s not forget the 10 percent VAT, which brings that up to $97.4 That’s almost $100 per month for one of the slowest speeds in the world. 

But sometimes it’s even slower. While we are promised 1mpbs the highest speed I have ever registered is 0.8 and but I often experience a quarter of that speed as seen in these tests from earlier tonight and a couple days ago:

These download speeds of 0.37mpbs and 0.19mbps recorded on April 6 and 8 can be less than half that of the world’s slowest average download speed registered in the DR Congo at 0.56mbps.

Salvation?

Recently I discovered that my ISP, Ogero, has another plan, which provides 20 gigs of internet for $50. You still have to pay the 12,000LL line fee, but even with tax, this comes out to around $64.

That’s still a lot to pay for really slow internet but it’s a savings of over $30 off my current bill for the same capacity.

This means when you put up $50 you are paying 3,750LL ($2.5) per gig instead of 6,000LL ($4) per gig when you pay for “additional gigs” under the standard plan. So even though it sounds cheaper, the standard $24 plan can be a lot more expensive than the $50 one when it comes to additional fees. Talk about fleecing the poor!

Also, changing plans is not exactly easy.

If you are renting, you’ll need to get your landlord involved and get him/her to go physically down to the Ogero billing office (no they can’t do this over the phone, even though they are the phone company.)

After several months of asking, my aging landlord finally went down to make the change to the $50 plan.

But because he only requested the change on April 3, there is no way for the new plan to take effect until May 1. This is because upgrades cannot happen mid-month. The staff frowned when I asked why they could not pro-rate.

Naturally, only one week into April and I’ve already exceeded the 4GB. I’ve used over 5GB in one week, according to the Ogero online consumption meter:

Looks like I’ll be paying almost $100 bucks again as I’m stuck in the additional consumption money trap. I wonder how much Ogero, the country’s biggest ISP, is making from “additional consumption” every month.