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Mobile Technology

“Like The Prodigal Son, I’ve Returned …”

HoPI borrowed the title of this post from the song “Jump Around”, a 1992 smash hit from the musical group – House of Pain. The phrase aptly describes my porting sojourn from Glo to MTN and back to Glo.

You may read up my post on my initial experience porting from Glo to MTN here. It is a must read.

My experiences has taught me one important fact, that the grass is definitely not greener on the other side. For sure, no single Nigerian mobile network can be said to be overwhelmingly better than the other. It is probably no secret that the services rendered by all these companies can be described as subpar at best and largely inconsistent. Quality of service vary widely across geographic locations.

Really no point jumping around these networks. What works for your friend in Gbagada may be a terrible experience for you in Ajah. Fact.

Perhaps, your choice of a service provider should be dependent only on the Service quality in your neighbourhood. No point having tons of free data for a network that you can only browse on 2G speeds or free voice bonus from a network that you struggle to get a bar of signal.

For now, i am back to Glo, only because it has the best service quality in my neighbourhood and, well, provide cheaper data service than the competition.

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Articles

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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Gadgets Hack Mobile

Browsing With Glo BIS On PC And Mobiles – So What Gives?

GLO-LOGOCautiously, i typed the keyword coweek on my phone and sent it via sms to the shortcode 777. All the while, i had my fingers crossed.

Thankfully, the procedure described above deducted N400 (US$2.50) from my call credit and gave me a week access to Globacom internet services, with a data limit of 700MB.

So, why was i being cautious? The above procedure describes the process of subscribing to Globacom’s weekly Blackberry Internet Service. Problem is, i do not own a Blackberry phone. Well, word on the street is that Blackberry data plans are being used on other brands of phones.  I was a bit apprehensive because I was subscribing to this data plan from a Samsung Galaxy S3!.However, this is a risk worth taking because the data allowance for Blackberry phones is much more than any other data plan that this network (or probably any other) offers for any other platform.

This information is now all over the internet and one would expect the network, glo, to have pulled the plug off it. That is not the case, at least not yet. The company has witnessed so many systems malfunction in the past few years that one can not totally rule out that the company is helpless about the situation it has found itself.

Well, time is going to tell how it will play out. But, meanwhile, the consumers are now better off.

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Articles

Cobranet – Nigeria’s Fastest Internet Speed?

Name it, chances are that I have used it before. From the early days of internet access in Nigeria in the late 1990s when ISPs like hyperia and linkserve held sway with their dial up internet, to more recent times with ISPs like IPNX, Zoom, Onet and the GSM networks like MTN, Glo, Etisalat calling the shots. I have used them all!

Like many Nigerians, I keep hopping from one ISP to the other, searching for the elusive, or is it proverbial, “3G” or even “4G” speeds being hyped by these companies.

Recently, I was taking a walk through SPAR ‘Park and Shop’ Mall in Lekki, Lagos Island when I came across a stand showcasing yet another Nigerian ISP’s products, a company called COBRANET. Out of interest, more in the Sales Lady than anything else, I approached the stand. Though I had known Cobranet for years, I have never subscribed to their services. Probably because I did not expect their services to be any better than the norm. I got talking with the lady and was pleasantly surprised when the sales lady mentioned that apart from the fact that the company has signal coverage over most parts of Lagos Mainland, their signals also cover most parts of Lagos Island, stretching along the length of the Lekki-Epe expressway, reaching as far as a suburb called Awoyaya. A feat for a non-GSM based ISP.

After testing out the demo they had on offer in the store and admittedly, still with a little skepticism, I subscribed to their Home Bronze Plan which set my wallet back by N13,000.00 (about $US 80), an amount that would have gone a long way in actualizing my plan of buying a BMX bike for my son for Christmas. Of this amount, half of it was the modem cost while the other half got me a 3.5GB data limit and 800kbps download speed Home Bronze Plan. The data limit seemed very small and, well, very limiting, but the sales lady quickly chipped in that downloads from 12am-6am eeryday do not count towards this data limit.

To better understand the tag line 800Kbps (Kilo Bits per Second), it simply means that you are expected to download files from the internet at a rate of 800kbps divided by 8 which equals 100 KBps (Kilo Bytes Per Seconds). Take note of the difference between Bits & Bytes. Meaning that on a good day, barring unseen interferences, you are expected to download, say, a 1Gigabyte file in less than 3 hours. i have gotten speeds higher that 100KBps on Cobranet Home Bronze Plan but on the average, you are guaranteed speeds of at least 70KBps. By Nigerian standards, this is fast. In fact, the last time i experienced speeds like this was in the United Kingdom.

To still appreciate my mumbo jumbo yarns better, i decided to compare this speed to the GSM internet speeds posted on MTN Nigeria website which gave the average browsing speed of their 3.5G (HSDPA) “high speed Internet” as 800Kbps (100KBps), same as Cobranet’s least browsing speed plan, the Home Bronze Plan. However, i could not help but wonder where MTN picked that figure from. Probably that speed is attainable ONLY in their CEO’s lodgings! God help you if you can get a fraction of that speed, even at their best signal locations.

Cobranet is very fast, and in reality, i can download a 1GB file in under 4 hours. Try that on any other network, a non starter on most. I do wholly recommend Cobranet’s Internet service to anyone, as of today. Yes today only, as i do not give any guarantee that their services would not tow the snail speed line by tomorrow!

Posted with WordPress for BlackBerry.

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Articles

Still On Globacom Nigeria

Globacom data services came up today after about a week of outage. However, a quick trip to Ikeja (Lagos Mainland) yesterday gave me a little insight to the extent and spread of these outages. It seems to be more frequent on Lagos Island as subscribers on the mainland seemed unaffected.

The sad part of it all is that users are in no way being compensated. It is even on record that only Glo network refused to compensate its subscribers after the last general RIM Blackberry outage.

What exactly is happening to Globacom, Nigeria’s pride? Much as I hate it, I have since switched to MTN while hoping Glo will not suffer yet another data outage. The question now is “Can a leopard change its skin?”

Posted with WordPress for BlackBerry.

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Articles

Free Internet Browsing

At least half of the people that click on this post would expect to find some hacking tips on how to browse the internet for free. Sorry, no hacking tips here.

However, for those that subscribe to Globacom’s cheaper internet bundles, ever tried dialling 124 to know if you are a beneficiary of Glo’s free data allocation? With a data balance of over 61GB, I doubt if I will be paying for internet access for months to come.

Glo with Pride!

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Gadgets

I Have a Dream …

The impending Mobile number portability in the Nigerian GSM sector has been welcomed with applause and expectations. This is with the assumption that the industry would become very much competitive, barring any form of cartel formation, that is, if it is not in existence already.

Number portability basically means that, say, using a “0809” number will not necessarily mean you are a subscriber to the Etisalat network. Also, you could have a “0803” number and be a subscriber to Airtel. You can switch within the networks whilst still keeping your number.

A number of countries have long deployed such services; South Africa, Egypt, Israel, US, UK,etc.

It is not news that the quality of service being rendered by these companies is appalling at best. Someone even commented that it is a joke. I agreed with him, especially when i read in the papers that one of them is about launching 4G in Nigeria. 4G! Very hilarious.  Not one of them can even boast of rendering quality 3G services, talkless of 4G. Dont even get me started.

It is an open secret that my GSM company of choice, for now, is Etisalat. Aside from their unrivalled customer services, the 2.5G or Edge speed they have been offering is very much better than what the other jokers have been touting as “3G” or “3.5G”. I just hope that with the recent acquisition of their 3G license, they will show us what true 3G is!

As usual, can anyone visualize how this portability concept will play out in Nigeria? For one, the almighty MTN will frustrate anyone wishing to leave its stables. I am actually quoting a staffer. To transfer your number to another network, it takes as little as a few seconds in New Zealand, few minutes in Australia, and at the extreme end, 5 days in the UK. Can someone give an educative guess on how long it would take MTN? I shudder to think. Unfortunately, Glo is not much better, i honestly do not know which company has the worst customer service. It is obvious that these two companies would witness not a few of their customers jumping ship.

And on the bigger scene, an article was published on this website detailing the incursion of some big names into almost every technological facet of our lives; Bulk sms,etc. True to that article, Google is now actively involved in VOIP telephony, making calls over the internet. They also offer basically all what is being offered by these GSM companies. And guess what? They allow for Number portability. Christened GOOGLE VOICE, unfortunately, the service is not yet available in Nigeria, but like most technological advances, it would eventually.

I have a dream, that one day, in our country Nigeria, “Everywhere i go”, people  “Glo with pride” and … Airtel stopped its endless adverts on TV!!!

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Articles

GLO mobile Service Outage

GLO mobile Service outage in Port Harcourt. Affected services include GSM and Blackberry services.

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Gadgets

GSM in Nigeria – The journey so far

Nine years after the launch of GSM technology in Nigeria, I feel so disillusioned about expectations not met. Sure, its pluses has been pointed out to me countless times, that apart from it been the major (somebody said only) achievement of the Olusegun Obasanjo 8 year administration, it is also said that the boost it has given to the socio-economic growth can not be quantified. Well, true, but you and I also know that we have, as individuals, paid a hefty price for this.

I have refused to try to compute what may have ended up in South Africa via MTN from my little pockets. I’ve come to realise that maybe I may have paid more for all the ratzmatazz, the glitz and the childish “i was the first to bring 3G” adverts than for any good service. What 3G are you guys talking about?! Dont even get me started! But thinking of it deeper, I thought, yeah maybe they do have these equipment they claim they do, so why are the services not at par with GSM networks from some countries i’ve been priviledged to experience? Or is it a case of “Overselling”, when the number of subscribers to a particular facility far exceeds the installed capacity of the equipment to handle it?

Oh Nigeria, why do we condone mediocrity? Why is mediocrity so much prevalent in every facet of our society? And to think that we are paying so much for it! Sad.

I apologise if I have sounded so cynical, please forgive me, but it helps to get all these off my chest.

I don’t know what it is about Econet/Vodacom (?)/Vmobile/Celtel/Zain (Did I leave anything out?), we may excuse them that their seeming lack of innovative ideas may be due to their unending management changes. But MTN?!