For many years Lebanon have had the slowest and most expensive internet in the world. Even now after the government have promised change in the infrastructure, the country is still floating around at the very bottom on most of the internet quality index ranking lists to be found.
To get access to internet in your own home you can either apply for DSL/ADSL broadband connection, for which you will need to have a phone or DSL landline or you can contact your local neighborhood internet provider and he will simply hook you up to the server connection in your building through your own modem. There is also the option of portable wireless internet through one of several commercial providers.
All of the providers are offering different speed and traffic plans with up to 8GB or 12 GB, but bear in mind that since the Lebanese internet infrastructure still is very, very poor, you can be sure of the fact that your internet connection at all times will be very unreliable. No matter of which type or provider you have chosen it will always be slow and sometimes it will not work at all.
Make sure you keep the phone number of your chosen provider on speed dial since maintenance and assistance will be needed and usually are included in the monthly fee.
Before you call your provider and nag, try the amazing trick of disconnecting and then reconnecting the modem. It usually works, unless there is bad weather (rain, wind, or a small, single cloud on the sky), or something happening on the political scene. These moments it will not help even to call your provider.
In order to get access to DSL/ADSL you need to get a landline installed by OGERO, the governmental phone company. Currently they are offering between 1M to 4 GB, with a widespread promise of 8GB, "soon to come".
As of May 2012 the installment fee for the DSL line is 285 000 LL (190 $), with a monthly charge of 40 000LL (26$). In addition to this the usage fee ranges from 28LL/min/channel to 49 LL/min/channel. They have recently announced and upcoming free of charge down and upload time during midnight and 7 AM.
DSL from OGERO is not yet available all over Lebanon and you will have to check their website for the latest news.
To apply you need to visit their website, a local sales office or call (since you don't have internet yet!) : 961 01 840000
After you have applied for installment, they will make a technical and administrational evaluation in your home in order to ensure the feasibility of your connection. Normally this process will not be over and done with until after one to three months (if you're lucky)
After they have made sure everything is in order, you will be requested to make your installation fee payment and then they will install your line and you will finally (yeay ! ) be hooked up. From this moment and on you will be paying a quarterly invoice.
The easiest and fastest way to get instant access to internet in your own home is to ask you neighbor for the local internet guy. Sometimes he will even come knocking on your door asking if you want internet, as soon as the rumor has spread that you have moved in. There are always only one provider in each neighborhood and competition is non existent. The same thing goes if you want to hook up to the local generator providing you with electricity during the daily electricity cuts.
Once you have found the local internet provider, he will make an appointment to visit your home and make the installation. If you don't have your own modem he will sell you one, with the wireless ones as the more popular ones (usually they have the best price for these). You can also buy a modem of your choice in any internet store close to you.
Depending on you provider, there will be one or several options for speed and monthly up and download amount (usually between 2GB to 12GB). As of may 2012 the installment fee is usually around 15-30 dollars, and the monthly fee between 20-150 dollars, depending on your desired speed and up and download amount.
There are several commercial companies offering portable, wireless internet through a dongle that you connect to your computer, using antenna package or USB or Ethernet interface. The current most popular ones being Mobi, Wise, I-Fly, Wigo and Terranet. (check for example http://www.idm.net.lb, or http://corp.terra.net.lb/) To find them you can either visit their stores or go online.
Prices ranging between 100$ to 160$, depending on your chosen interface with monthly rates depending on your desired up and download speed (from 256 kbps to 2 Mbps) as well as your desired monthly traffic limit (from 2GB to 12GB), from 15 to 80 $ a month.
Given you are using a Smart or iPhone, Alfa and MTC, the two cell phone providers in Lebanon are also offering internet through your pre or postpaid mobile phone card.
Most cafés and bars in and surrounding Beirut offers free wi-fi, which all will be as slow and unreliable as all the other above options.
She is a 30 something who left her native Sweden for Lebanon 6 years ago. Now she is reinventing life in Beirut.