Monday, February 16, 2009

Mobile Internet Services in Jos, Nigeria

As I said in the previous post, I've been researching the mobile ISPs that are currently available in Jos. It's a dynamic situation, with several companies entering or about to enter the playing field, and with promises of broadband 3G service to come "soon". Since 3G is already available in some cities in Nigeria, we hope the "soon" is actually in the near future, this year sometime.

As I said in the previous post, I am summarizing all my information as I gather it, on the Mobile ISPs page in the Living in Nigeria wiki. So go there for more details and for more recent news. Add information if you have it!

The summary at this point is:
  • Although advertising as high speed, MTN offers low-speed (GPRS) service with a variety of monthly and day plans (from a few hours to a full 24 hours). They plan eventually to have broadband (GSM family, UMTS)
  • Multi-links and Zoom offer medium-speed (1x) connections. They plan to have broadband (CDMA family, EVDO). I don't know about actually-observed operating speeds.
    • Multi-links requires you to buy a 21,000 naira phone or 16,000 naira (unavailable) modem.
    • Zoom requires you to buy a 3,000 naira phone or 10,000 naira modem.
    • Multi-links and Zoom both have a variety of plans, but only Multi-links has day plans.
    • Zain and Glo do not offer intermediate range (1x) service and don't seem to have any attractive features at this point.
  • My personal experience with MTN on only a few occasions has been that it is not worthwhile (too slow).
  • I have heard from one person each for MTN, Zoom, and Multi-links that the service has been fair (MTN, Zoom) to good (Multi-links).
My friend who has been testing Zoom (with the rather bulky 1x/EVDO modem) told me today that it's not tolerable for browsing, as far as he is concerned, with very low speeds at times. However, he pointed out that it's ok for email since that can trickle in at any speed.

It is very important to remember that while the companies advertise a connection speed and while the hardware could in fact support that speed, the actual speed is still limited by how much bandwidth the company chooses to pour into the pipeline. Bandwidth is expensive and so far the companies are not actually giving out as much as they could, or so it appears to the consumer.

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