Syrian 3G Mobile Network Wireless Broadband
Christophe, my CouchSurfing host, is one of Aleppo's elite who have broadband Internet in the home. Until about a month ago the only thing available was slow landline connections over dial-up modems (and some lucky few in select areas that have ADSL connections).
After network limitations, a year of testing, and some back and forth with the government over security and 'appropriate' levels of censorship, a new technology has emerged for the populous (whom can afford it).
Detected as a 'Motorola SM56 Modem' on my laptop ('Huawei E220 HSDPA USB Modem' according to the back of the device), the USB modem connects over the 3G cell phone network. It's got a SIM card in it, just like a mobile, and is actually very speedy, but the service is ridiculously expensive: Christophe pays about $60/month for only a measly 1GB of total bandwidth (both up/download).
Considering an average connection of a few minutes of e-mail, surfing, and the occasional Skype call typically brings with it a good 10-15MB of bandwidth consumption, it's pretty obvious that the kid doesn't get to stay online all that much.
To make matters worse, it would seem that Internet cafés are quite rare in this city. I hear the vast majority are on dialup modems themselves. I've yet to see a single one in the city.
If this is what I can expect from the Middle East, then travelogue entries will be somewhat delayed as I struggle to find opportunities to upload photos.