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4G Speeds In Nigeria – The Hype vs The Reality

GLO-LOGOOut of curiosity, I enabled the 4G radio on my Samsung Galaxy S3 phone for the first time since i got it and was taken aback when i noticed the 4G icon. Expecting it to be a ruse, i decided to give my download speed a test and was pleasantly surprised at what i saw. Download speeds hovered mostly around the 2mbps mark with burst speed breasting the 4mbps mark. Wow! 30 minutes later, i got an even bigger surprise – nothing pleasant here –  i discovered that over 200mb from the 260mb data available on my phone had been zapped!. A data allocation that usually last for a month got used up in 30 minutes?! What?! Within the short period, i had downloaded a 74MB file from Youtube, did multiple speed tests, downloaded softwares and files, enjoying the newly discovered download speeds but forgetting that my data allocation was not unlimited. A text message from Globacom brought me to reality: “Dear Glo subscriber, 47.0Mb of the volume allocated to you is still remaining. Rule your world!”. What?!

This indeed was a new experience for me. I am not a light data user, not by a long shot, but the usual slow 2G and 2.75G speeds (Edge) that has more widespread coverage in Nigeria is, at best, epileptic and unreliably. You can use a 100MB data allocation for months, not because you do not want to use it but because you do not get to use it. Most times, i do not even get to use my data allocation at all, usually relying on WIFI, using the mobile data allocation only while i am on the road.

I enjoyed the 4G experience i had at my workplace, it was very new to me. The last time i experienced speeds like that was in the UK. However, the funny thing is that my home, barely 15 minutes away, could not boast of a reliable 2G connection. That is the fad in Nigeria. The networks  introduce cutting edge technology and make it available only in a sprinkle of locations and spend more money creating a hype out of it, boasting about been the first to do this or that. Recently, Airtel – another Nigerian mobile network, claimed to have completed its 4G trials in Lagos.

I honestly look forward to the day when 4G speeds would be common place in Nigeria. I only hope Jesus wouldn’t come before then. Sigh.

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Articles

Are Nigerian Mobile Networks Heading For Financial Crisis?

Recently, one of Nigeria’s four GSM Service Providers, Etisalat Nigeria, rolled out a unique bundle offering  called EasyFlex. In this offering, you get to choose a bundle comprising of Short Messaging Service (SMS), voice and data services.

For N1000, one of the plans offer you 100 minutes of talk time to any local network, 100 Megabytes of data and 400 sms – also to any network. This same GSM provider ordinarily offers calls to other local networks at very low rates, forcing their counterparts to tow the line.

It is very comforting that market forces is now driving the Telecomm sector in Nigeria. However, the offer of cheap SMS by mobile networks may not be particularly enticing as the trend worldwide is placing increasingly less focus on SMS as a means of communication. People would rather use other Instant Messaging (IM) medium like Samsung’s ChatOn, Apple’s iMessage, WhatsApp, Nimbuzz, Imsy and numerous others.

Personally, I can not remember the last time I used a paid SMS service. Some services like VConnect and get2Sms offer specific numbers of sms freely. Google also allow you to send free SMS to most Nigerian networks while Facebook allow you free access on select networks.

These free services have always come in handy the few times i need to use SMS.

The bundled SMS is, however, not a deal breaker for Etisalat because even with the SMS taken out of the equation, the N1000 package is probably worth almost N3000 if the included services are used on a Pay as you go basis.

Promotional offers is now the trend in Nigeria and the subscribers are finally getting back what they had been ripped off of in the past. So much so that the regulatory body, NCC, had to step in to put a halt to the ”çat fight”. Competition is now fierce as revenue, especially, from voice calls keep plummeting. This is partly because the number and duration of voice calls have drastically reduced. There was a time in this country when networks were billing per minute. They are now billing per second, coupled with the fact that competition has driven down voice call charges to less than a quarter of what they used to be. SIM cards are being given out (practically) for free. One of the other things eating into the revenue of these networks is the use of satellite telephony to connection to the internet for close to free.

All these pose serious financial challenges to our networks here.

Meanwhile, like with every business in Nigeria, running costs keep rising. Recurrent expenditure is shooting through the roof for these networks.

Revenues are dwindling, running costs are rising. Add these two together, and you have a veritable recipe for business disaster.

It is no surprise that most CDMA Operators have closed shop in Nigeria. There are mergers and acquisitions going on. With or without economies of scale, it appears that revenue in the Telecommunications Sector is dwindling and will continue to dwindle in the foreseeable future.

This has left me wondering whether the pervading cutthroat competition in the telecoms sector would not  leave casualties in its path.

We have a situation where there is a crying need to improve the Quality of service of the Operators by investing more in infrastructure. They need to expand the network capacity. How are they going to be able to do this when revenue is being forced downwards? Any business faced with this kind of scenario would look for ways to reduce expenditure, so as to improve on their bottomline.

And I fear the first ports of call would probably be ‘downsizing’, more pronounced outsourcing, reduction of staff emolument, smart tax avoidance (not evasion) strategy.

This may not be all good news for subscribers at all.

In what way do you think these networks can escape this “Catch – 99” situation?

Do you forsee a improvement s in the Quality of Service, due to the ferocious combination.

Or are you like me – I can already see cracks, and a deterioration in service rendition. I see vicious competition having a “MAD” quality about it already– Mutually Assured Destruction.

What is your take?

Categories
Gadgets

Poor Service Quality – Why NCC Got it Wrong

Recently, the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) in a public statement warned MTN, Globacom and Airtel that it would stop them from selling Subscriber Identification Module (SIM) cards by the end of this month if they fail to improve the quality of service (QoS) on their mobile networks.

The telecommunications regulator who issued the operators a 30-day ultimatum with effect from November 1, 2011, went further by saying that any new SIM card sold, or additional subscriber added to the network in contravention of the direction, would attract a penalty of N1,000,000 ( one million naira) per subscriber added.

The Commission indicated that after the expiration of the 30-day deadline, it would strictly enforce the impending directive which contravention will attract a penalty of N5,000,000 ( Five Million Naira), and additional N500,000( Five Hundred Thousand Naira) per day that such contravention persists. In addition to the above, failure of any of the operators to meet the quality of service targets from November 30, 2011 would attract a fine of N500,000 (Five Hundred Thousand Naira) for every month of failure.

According to Mr. Reuben Mouka, Head, Media and Public Relations, NCC, this deadline follows a dismal performance by the three operators on quality of service from the result of an independent monitoring exercise carried out by the Commission across the country which showed that all the three operators failed to meet with four key performance indicators (KPIs) that are crucial for quality of service improvements as set by the Commission.

“It is not in doubt that the customer experience on your network has been far from satisfactory, especially as the Commission has been inundated with complaints from various subscribers on this matter”, it said in the correspondence to the three respective operators in which it expressed concerns that the operators were not doing enough to reverse the trend of unacceptable quality of service which had persisted for too long.

KPIs

The Key Performance indicators measured by the Commission included Call Set Up Success Rate, Call Completion Rate, Stand Alone Dedicated Control Channel and Handover Success Rate.

Since the advent of the telecom boom especially, global service for mobile communications (GSM) in the country, Nigerians have come to associate poor quality of system as part of the price they have to pay for inadequate telecommunications infrastructure.
Industry analysts acknowledge that it’s no longer news that at times a subscriber may have to dial more than five times before connecting a call. That call may at times be affected by what is called noise in communications parlance, that is, the caller may experience some conflicting sounds from another line or his/her call is inaudible.

Also, the caller may as well not be able to complete that call and may have to repeat the call several times just to pass his/her message across to the receiver. Nigerian subscribers have at times put a call across and someone else unknown to them picks the call only for them to redial the same number and it will go to the right person they are trying to reach.

Ban On Sales Promotions

It is common knowledge that since the Nigerian telecom regulator lifted the ban on sales promotions by mobile service providers; the quality of service has worsened. Early this year the mobile operators lobbied the regulator to allow them conduct promos aimed at celebrating 10 years of telecom revolution in Nigeria.

The NCC said no, urging the operators to improve their telecom networks before such request could be granted. Now, sales promos in various guises such as SIM Registration promos, free credit promos, 10-year anniversary promos, etc are in full swing and the congestions on the networks are back.

More Network Investments

Mr Gbenga Adebayo, president, Association of Licenced Telecom Operators of Nigeria, Alton, said the telecom market needs investments to build a network that is resilient. Nigeria currently has less than 20,000 base stations, while a city like London has more than 50, 000 base stations. The operators need to spend more on building cell sites, building data centres and transmission backbone.

The NCC has the responsibility of protecting the Nigerian telecom subscriber, ensuring that top quality services are rendered. After all, it is the subscriber that pays the bill of the operators. It behoves on the NCC to look no further and identify the cause of poor quality of service and put an end to the suffering telecom subscribers go through currently.

Source : allafrica.com

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