GSM Dial-up Internet: In the beginning, there was Circuit Switched Data

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I cannot help being mobile data oriented. Data on the go is what I’ve been all about from the word go. So, if you will excuse me, can I take us back about 6 years to the dusty lanes of 2003 to 2005 – the good old days of GSM dial-up?

Of course, GSM dial-up had existed in Nigeria before 2003. As far back as early 2002, I had used CSD from MTN. It was unstable, and very often failed, but at least it was there. But, let us be content to go back only as far as 2003 when the technology had achieved a certain stability.

2003 was early days for GSM technology in Nigeria, and more specifically for GSM data services. Everyone is excited about high speed internet today, what with 3.5G, 3G, and even EDGE coverage spreading wider and wider. Even basic GPRS, where it exists today, is heaven compared to what we had to settle for in the beginning.

What is GSM Dial-up?

Yes; in the beginning, there was GSM dial-up. The technical name is Circuit Switched Data (CSD). But if you are old enough to know how dial up internet works, basically CSD means that you use your GSM line to dial a given phone number in order to connect to the internet. The cost was N50 per minute then. And the theoretical maximum speed was – wait for it – 9.6kbps!

CSD was first deployed by Mtech on the MTN network sometime between late 2001 and early 2002, and then also on Vmobile (now Zain) in 2005. Just for kicks, I have pulled out the CSD settings from my archives and will post them here (just in case someone has a hair-brained inspiration to try it out).

GSM Dial-up Configuration Settings


Profile Name: Mtech
username: mtech
Password: mlife
Port: 9210
Dialup number: 08039002000 (f
Data type: analogue
Data speed: 9.6kbps
Connection: connectionless
Home: (or use instead)

Vmobile (now Zain)

Profile Name: Vactive
username: wap
Password: wap
Port: 9210
Dialup number: +2348022981000
Data type: analogue
Data speed: 9.6kbps
Connection: connectionless
Home: (or use instead)

3rd Party Dial-up Services

I also remember vividly that Disc Communications Ltd (Discomm) had a dial-up service made available to the public. I used this regularly with my smartphone’s built-in mail client to manage my mails.

The Discomm details are/were(?) as follows:
Provider’s name: DISC
username: test
password: test
dialup number: 013459000

Fun times, if you ask me.

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By Mister Mobility

I have been tech blogging since 2003, I have owned and reviewed hundreds of smartphones since my first in 2001.

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