I keep getting requests from mobile subscribers who want to know which is the best mobile internet service provider in the country. If there ever was a tough question, this one is it. I may not be in a position to decide which is the best in a blanket manner, but I can give you a review of my experiences with all of the mobile internet services from all four GSM networks as a guide that you can consult. I shall also expect other users to share their experiences in the comments section and hopefully you can form a fairly good picture of what to expect.
Airtel Mobile Internet
Simply put, mobile internet service from Airtel is the worst that I have ever experienced since the inception of GSM technology in Nigeria. My very first mobile line was ECONET Wireles Nigeria, the great grandfather of today’s Airtel Nigeria. Mobile internet on ECONET was crap then too. It was crap with every single iteration, all the way from ECONET Wireless to Vodacom to Vmobile to Celtel to Zain to Airtel. It still is crap today. There was even a time that GPRS service was restricted to certain subscribers only in the days of Celtel and Zain. Madness. My wife still uses Airtel, and sometimes she does not get an IM that I send her for hours. She is unable to update apps on her smartphone most of the time. She complains about the network but it seems that she has a secret covenant with them, because she has made no attempt to change that line. Yes; it is the very same line that I started with on ECONET Wireless years ago. The juju that Baba worked between them both must be strong.
I still own two Airtel lines though for my tests and reviews here on Mobility. Till today, whether I get EDGE or 3G, internet connectivity on Airtel is mostly slow and unreliable, though there are brief periods of sanity and good performance.
MTN Mobile Internet
MTN has been mostly a problem for me. When it works, every now and then, I get that silly “Service unavailable” error that seems to cut off some websites and services while allowing the user access to some others. I don’t get it, because that scenario never happens on other mobile internet providers’ connections. But that is when it works. For the most part, MTN mobile internet has been epileptic at my end and in many places that I have used it, including during my road trips out of Lagos. I remember my last trip to Zaria by road: yes; MTN was everywhere I went (so they didn’t lie), but their mobile internet was just unusable for the most part.
This service was once easy and blazing. Not so much any more. Now, it breaks for short periods and is no longer as fast as it used to be. EasyBlaze is a crying shame because a year ago, I predicted that this sort of thing would happen if Etisalat repeated the same thing that the other networks have done over the years. A real crying shame. It had so much potential.
Glo is by far the fastest and most reliable mobile internet service provider in my experience. Glo Bolt remains my choice. Oh; it is not faultless. For sure, it has its moments of insanity when Glo 3G service just vanishes and you are stuck till it returns, but in comparison with the others, I can almost swear (by my great grandfather’s beard, of course) that Glo comes out saintly.
There it is all laid out for you from my point of view. Glo is my de facto mobile internet provider. When it fails and I need backup, I default to Etisalat. If for any reason, that is not available, my next port of call is MTN. If that fails….to be honest, you have to be evil to wish that kind of scenario on me. Absolutely irredeemably evil. I really, really dread having to fall back on Airtel for mobile internet service.
Now, this is all based on my experience – and though I have rich experiences across a wide range of locations, you cannot make a decision strictly on my experiences. I am only one person and cannot be at all places. Many times, service quality is location dependent. I know people who live and swear by Airtel mobile internet, for example, as much as I loathe it. Over to you now. Wishing you luck in your search for fast and reliable mobile internet service.
Founder of MobilityArena. Yomi’s journey in mobile started in 2001. Besides obsessing over mobile phones, he also started creating WAP sites (early mobile-friendly websites created with WML). He began writing about phones in 2004 and has been at it since then. He has owned over 200 devices, from Symbian, Palm, PocketPC/Windows Mobile, BlackBerry/BB10, webOS, Windows Phone, Firefox, Ubuntu Touch, to Android, iOS, and KaiOS operating systems.