Mobile Data and User-friendly Configuration

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It is amazing that in the year 2009 (not 1989) some of our local GSM service providers still ask customers to come to their offices or to place telephone calls to request for their lines to be provisioned in order to have access to the network’s data (or value added) services.

While deploying a data service is well appreciated, the networks should go a step further to make it convenient for subscribers to have access to these services.

For example, there’s no valid reason why the networks cannot provide their SIMs already provisioned for internet. It is a fact that at least MTN and Etisalat are doing it right in this regard. Etisalat especially is to be commended, for though being a new player in the Nigerian telecoms ecosystem, they are more forward looking in terms of user-friendly data provisioning than the older boys like Zain and GloMobile.

Surely, it cannot be so difficult for network operators to deploy over-the-air (OTA) configuration such that soon after inserting your SIM into a GPRS or 3G-enabled phone, the data settings are pushed automatically to the phone and the subscriber can simply launch his phone browser and start surfing the web away.

Both MTN and Etisalat are again the leaders in this department. And once again, Etisalat are getting two thumbs up from me for implementing this from the word go.

My experience with Etisalat is one I remember with fondness. I popped in my SIM into a phone, the settings were pushed to me via SMS, and within minutes I was browsing without having to go to their office, call for my line to be provisioned, or manually input any settings. I said to myself, “This is the way it should be“.

Network operators need to remember that the average phone user is not a geek, does not care to go beyond the basic menu of his phone, and would rather not be bothered with the extra hassles of getting value added services setup.

The average subscriber wants these services to work out-fo-the-box, and the networks that respond appropriately to this fact will have subscribers eating out of their hands. Mobile Data will become more mainstream when the hassles of data configuration are eliminated.