After having trouble accessing mobile networks during the August 22 #youstink protests in downtown Beirut, SMEX started a petition requesting that Alfa and Touch, Lebanon’s two mobile network operators, boost coverage in downtown for the planned August 29 protest, which was expected to bring tens of thousands to Martyr’s Square. We disseminated the petition through social media, and supporters mentioned the companies repeatedly in their posts.
It looks like the effort worked. The photos here show two mobile installations, one from Alfa and one from Touch, in Martyr’s Square on the evening before the protest, during which more than 50,000 people demonstrated against the garbage crisis, corruption, and the sectarian system, and on the morning of August 30.
While many people still complained of not being able to connect consistently on August 29, we did notice an incremental improvement. We hope the telecom companies will continue to improve their services during this critical time and will ensure that all protestors can express themselves as vocally online on Wednesday, September 9, as they will offline.