MTN, Glo, Etisalat roll out poor 4G LTE services
• Delivery may not be perfected until 2020
• Consumers lament slow connections
Subscribers who have migrated to the fourth generation/long-term evolution (4G/LTE) services in the country have paid for a phantom “improved and faster service delivery” offer. Many of the subscribers are currently unhappy with the offerings from mobile network operators.
The 4G is the fourth generation of wireless mobile telecommunications technology, succeeding 3G. Potential and current applications include amended mobile web access, IP telephony, gaming services, high-definition mobile TV, video conferencing, and 3D television.
In quick succession, the trio of Glo, MTN, and Etisalat rolled out the wireless communications standard designed to provide up to 10 times the speed of 3G networks for mobile devices such as smartphones, tablets, notebooks and wireless hotspots.
Since October 4, when indigenous service provider, Globacom Networks launched the service, shortly followed by South Africa-based MTN on the 6th, and the United Arab Emirates’ Etisalat on the 14th, subscribers have been trooping into the nearest shops of their service providers to migrate to the new wonder generation fast speed network.
But most have been disappointed as it takes at least two to three hours of waiting at the friendship centres of the service providers to migrate, only to be upgraded into more hassles and worse communication and Internet frustrations.
One major complaint by many of the subscribers who have migrated to the new service has been the slow connection time of the 4G offerings across all the networks.
Worse still, The Guardian learnt that the service may not even get perfected in Nigeria until 2020. The reasons adduced for this are that the 4G/LTE is still evolutionary, and that the infrastructure to run it is still very much inadequate.
Other complaints range from slow migration process to slower time of connection and drop calls, generally consistent with telecommunications services in the country.
According to The Guardian’s findings, while services in some areas, especially in Lagos, appear faster, in other cities, it takes time for the Internet to load.
Also, investigations over the past weeks showed that services in Warri, Yola, Zaria and some parts of Agbor, which Globacom is feeding, are still poor and need improvement. For instance, a Globacom subscriber, Alani Badmus, who stays in Gwarinpa, Abuja, complained of service eruptions, with the network fluctuating at will. Remilekun Amoo, a subscriber with Etisalat, also expressed bitterness about the service, arguing that the network is still 3G and not 4G.
A visibly angry Port Harcourt-based MTN customer, Mary Willink, said the operators needed to do more to convince subscribers that they were offering 4GLTE services. Indeed, Willink’s conversation with The Guardian on the telephone was cut off several times before it was concluded, which made her to call on the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) to be more responsive to its duties as a regulator, saying “consumers cannot be paying for services they are not getting.”
But the Spokesman of the NCC, the telecoms regulator, Tony Ojobo, pleaded with subscribers to be patient with the service providers.
He said: “ On the 4G service that has just been rolled out, I think it is too early to criticise them. People should wait a bit and let’s see it crystalise. To start with, 4G is not everywhere yet, even 3G is not everywhere. Not even every part of Europe has 4G rolled out.
“The thing about us in this country is that we are always in a hurry, nobody is patient about anything. So, the point is this, lots of things must go into deploying 4G, antennas, Base Transceiver Stations (BTS) and equipment. So, it is possible that when you are on 4G, you may get to a place where it is 3G that is available and your phone would drop to 3G.”
None of the service providers that recently launched the 4G/LTE was willing to offer any form of defence for their poor services.
The Guardian asked the spokespersons of the trio of Globacom, MTN and Etisalat, Arinze Anapugars; Funsho Aina and Oluseyi Osunsedo what was being done to allay customers’ fear and improve their 4G networks offering; if they had perfected their 2G and 3G networks; and how prepared they were for the 5G network to debut next year.
While Globacom’s Anapugars said in a telephone call that “Our technical team is working on a response”, MTN’s Aina in a text message wrote: “I’m in a meeting” just as Osunsedo complained in a text message that “notice is too short.”