I recently remembered an event that took place last year and realized that sharing it will be of benefit to our readers on Mobility Nigeria. This post is about a unit of Nokia E71 that I purchased from a reputable store in Lagos. Prior to this purchase, I had used three different E71 units and they were all purchased from this same store.
You may be wondering how I could have used that number of the same phone in such a short time. What happened was that people would see the phone with me, fall in love with it, and then offer to buy it off of me. And so, I would sell, buy another unit – and then go through the cycle again.
Anyway, I picked up this particular E71 from my trusted phone store. It had the I-cell warranty seal and also had a “Made in Finland” stamp on it.
Cutting to the chase, I put my SIM in the device and powered it up. As is my custom, I changed the phone network setting option to UMTS, meaning the phone would connect to only a 3G network. When I did this, I noticed that network signal disappeared on the phone.
Thinking that this was a temporary network problem that would be resolved soon, I decided to leave the UMTS setting unchanged. By the evening of that day the phone was still not picking up a 3G signal.
I made a few calls and discovered that 3G network was very alive on the phones of my friends. I began to wonder about things. Restarting the phone several times made no difference.
Finally, I was forced to pick the manual and read. Imagine me reading a phone manual! Unthinkable! But given the circumstance, I didn’t have a choice because I needed an explanation for what was happening. Right on the first page of the manual was the answer to my question.
The manual stated that the 3G frequency of this particular unit was WCDMA 1900, which is only available on the American continent. This meant that here in Nigeria the phone in question could connect only to GSM/GPRS/EDGE but was unable to use any of our 3G networks. The 3G band deployed in Nigeria is WCDMA 2100, not WCDMA 1900.
I was completely stunned. Having got spoilt with 3G speeds, not to mention 3.5G, how could I go back to anything less? I just couldn’t believe this was happening to me. Also, I asked myself why I-cell would import phones that are incompatible with our 3G band here. Are they even remotely aware that these are the sort of things they should check before bringing any phone to the country?
Did I learn anything from that experience? Yes! If anything, I began to check the frequency band before taking any phone from any store.
If you don’t want any nasty surprises, you should too.