11 November 2005

The Macedonian October Revolution - A Recap of the First Month

December 2004-September 2005 - Maktel succeeds in attracting 8000 subscribers for its ADSL service (dubbed fast or broadband Internet access – www.adsl.com.mk) through 2-year contracts - luring people with slogans like “surf and download the complete Internet if you like”. Web ads mention 4GB limit for the cheapest package (40 euros a month – in contrast to 200 euros average wage in R. Macedonia), but Maktel employees spread the word that the limit will never be actually activated.

Friday, September 30, 2005 – A half a page b/w ad in one of the ten local daily newspapers announces that Maktel will start charging extra 3,33 euros for every 512MB of traffic started after the package limit is exceeded. Word spreads through the web slowly (since internet users usually don't read papers, and if they do - the electronic editions don't have ads). But it spreads.

Monday, October 3 - The most popular Macedonian web-portal – www.on.net.mk – announces a warning to the ADSL users. Some of the users have already organised through a blog - http://revolucija.blogspot.com – which becomes the center and the forum for organising actions for alerting the public and pressuring the Telecom to cancel the illegal change of terms and conditions.

Tuesday, October 4 – A protest is organised in front of one of the Maktel offices in the center of Skopje. Users start cancelling their contracts. A template for a complaint is published on the blog for those who are not ready to pay heavy penalties for the cancellations.

Thursday, October 6 – The Internet access in the whole of Macedonia has been hacked – the dDoS attack lasted from 11 am to 5 pm, and international assistance was needed for its avertion. The hackers allegedly called the Maktel support and said that the attack was only a warning.

Monday, October 10 - A massive submital of complaints in all offices of Maktel throughout Macedonia, organised through the blog. An ADSL Internet petition is being signed (programmed to filter on ADSL users). The Complaint lists 9 pages of breaches of contract contrary to three Macedonian Laws. The bloggers contact the Macedonian Consumers Association, which promises help with the situation. All the media have been e-mailed about the situation, with a quote of the petition. Some dailies start following the situation.

Wednesday, October 12 – First public appearance of a “discontent ADSL users” on the local TV news.

Thursday, October 13 – Following a provocation by a Maktel employee on the blog, the users start mass-mailing the Management of Deutche and Magyar Telecom – Cc-ed to the Management of the local Telecom. The action is dubbed “Going International”.

Friday, October 14 – another b/w ad appears in the same daily, announcing that Maktel, "listening carefully and providing for their customers' needs" (read - spying on the blog), “broadens its offer” with new packages. New packages include either an extra charge for the traffic above the limit, or reducing of speed to a "dial-up level". Another discontent user appears on a TV magazine that night. Also, German media are mass-mailed.

October 15-16 – the bloggers are not satisfied with the announcement and announce new legal actions if Maktel does not completely revise its illegal contracts (and list another 6 pages of clauses contrary to the existing Laws). The blog itself, in its comments section, is the main place where users express their concerns, and employees from Maktel try to lower the morale of the "revolution". A "Public Announcement" is sent to the Macedonian media on Sunday night, and it gets published in its entirety in one of them. The others are too sponsored by Maktel to go through with the story.

Monday, October 17 – Another mass-mailing – this time to all the relevant politicians and legal institutions in Macedonia. Maktel mass-mails the ADSL users about its new packages.

Tuesday, October 18 – Two representatives of the discontent users, together with two lawyers of the Macedonian Customers Association, attend a meeting organised by the Ministry of Economy with the Maktel representatives. The Telecom representatives refuse all suggestions, proposals, and demands by the users, saying that they will “reduce the speed to 0 bps, if needed”. Macedonian Customers Association is fully behind the discontent users, and files a Complaint to the State Market Inspectorate (highest authority on consumer protection). Users that have submitted complaints have been phoned by Maktel employees insisting that they choose a new package. The blog advises them not to choose anything until recieving an official written reply to the Complaint. Mass-mail is sent to the Hungarian Management of Maktel, addressing the Big Boss himself, Mr. Attila Szendrei.

Thursday, October 20 – A seminar about “e-society” is held in Skopje, the capital of Macedonia, where international representatives openly say that Internet access in Macedonia is the most expensive in Europe. A local TV stations informs that the National Bank investigates allegations of tax evasion because of a “loan” of 20 million euros from Maktel to Deutche Telecom. The blog publishes a link to a statement of the Magyar Telecom CEO (Elek Straub, chief executive of Matáv) that the Macedonian investment resulted in a 50-55% margin for the Telecom ("The gross margin has consistently been in the 50–55 percent range." see http://www.dteurope.com/szeptember/english/investments.html)

Friday, October 21 – A Maktel employee threatens the bloggers with a “debt collection” agency for those who dare to cancell their contracts and not pay the penalties.

Saturday, October 22 – Another mass-mailing action. This time, all Macedonian media, German media, Telecom managements, local politicians and institutions, and the EU - are informed about the illegal Maktel actions.

Monday, October 24 – International coverage of the case by the African web ADSL magazine myADSL at http://mybroadband.co.za/nephp/?m=show&id=1007 – seems like Macedonian users were more successful than their South African "brothers in arms".

Tuesday, October 25 – Internet access is slowed down – support claims the fault is “somewhere abroad”. The blog announces legal action - a class suit against the Telecom. “Anonymous” comments suggest bloggers work for the REAL bosses - since the Telecom is faced with competition in the fixed telephony field, and some real competition in providing Internet access (since it didn't allow for its ADSL infrastructure to be used by the other ISPs in Macedonia, they looked for alternatives, and it seems they found them - Internet access through power wires). The server for the ADSL petition is DoS-ed by unknown perpetrators.

Wednesday, October 26 – Another hack attack on the Maktel services. This time it started around 8 pm, and lasted throughout the night.

Thursday, October 27 – The legally prescribed period for reply to the Complaints has passed. Maktel support again phones users individually and insists on them accepting new packages.

Friday, October 28 – A new Complaint for submittal at the Maktel offices has been composed and announced on the revolucija.blogspot.com blog.

Saturday, October 29 – Another victory - a written reply to a user that filed the first Complaint is published on bagra.org, under the title “Macedonia – Maktel – 2:0”, resolving them of any penalties if they decide to cancell the contract, but other replies are also reported, claiming that the user "accepted the new packages in a telephone conversation with a Maktel employee". Another mass submittal of Complaints (on the second change of terms and conditions from 14th and 17th October), although the time was short. Maktel offices in Skopje accept them, but there are reports that offices around the country refuse to accept them under lame excuses.

Monday, October 31 – Skopje and Bitola awake with necrologue posters for the “deceased fast Internet access... forever in our Binary Hearts” all around the cities. Users that failed filing the second complaint on Saturday submit the second template posted on the blog.

Tuesday, November 1 – The fast Internet access in Macedonia is officially dead. A “memorial service”, following a paid ad with the necrologue in the Dnevnik daily, is held in the centres of Skopje and Bitola, with a wide media coverage.

Monday, November 7 - MakTel announces it will fire 550 employees, contrary to the Collective Agreement, because of "greater competition, which urges the company to cut costs and lower their prices". The Government of Macedonia suggests that MakTel should lower the wages of their employees, instead of firing them, but MakTel persists in its intentions.

Tuesday-Saturday, November 8-12 - A third wave of complaints and cancellations of contracts by the ADSL users. Some users decide to have no further business with MakTel whatsoever (cancelling even their telephone lines), while others remain ADSL users, but with a view to premanent pressure on the company for betterment of their services.

Thursday, November 11 - MakTel's CEO Attila Sendrei informs its employees that if any of them attend or get involved in the announced protest (passive strike), they would lose their jobs.

The revolution is on...

Wednesday, December 30, 2009 - As a result of the first grassroots democratic action in Macedonia, I've got an actual flat-rate internet connection (it's 10 Mbs - the limit is nominally 150 GB, but I don't want to download internet.zip just yet) with a 1 year contract with a guarantee of 96% uptime. I'd say that's a good outcome.


Anonymous said...

Bravo bato!!!

Anonymous said...

I od mene bravo!!

Anonymous said...

alal ti vera :)

Spion666 said...

Супер :) Одлично. Малку сензационално ама точно :D

Само фали свежа ствар, а тоа е дека серверот кој (ни) ја хостираше петицијата непосредно пред (или можеби, по?) времето на најпоследното паѓање падна жртва на Denial of Service напад (чисто преплавување со податоци низ конекцијата, ништо повеќе или помалку) така што беше одсечен од интернет 3-4 дена.

Инаку, пак ќе кажам, одлично =)

Александар З said...

Фала за пофалбите, и сензационализмот си има своја сврха (треба да го продадам ова на весници - одговор од Wired уште немам).

Што се однесува до дДоСот на серверот со петицијата - човекот што ја хостираше уште се мачи да ги извади податоците - ама зборува премногу технички и не можам да разберам баш се што зборува :( Ќе внесам корекција кога ќе знам што точно се случило и кога.

Spion666 said...

Податоците веќе ги извадив(ме) :)