I am a very heavy data user and over time, I have subscribed to the data services of nearly all the GSM providers in Nigeria. In this

My Experiences with Data Providers in Nigeria

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experiences with data providers in Nigeria

I am a very heavy data user and over time, I have subscribed to the data services of nearly all the GSM providers in Nigeria. In this write-up, I will be giving a summary of my experience with all of them. If you just want to skip to certain providers, you can click the links below.

Zoom Mobile


My first experience surfing the internet started about three years ago in 2009 when i begged, persuaded, fasted and prayed for my mum to get the free PCI modems that Zoom mobile was offering then. The modems were given out as freebies while you only have to pay for the data plan of your choice.

Being that the only experiences i had connecting to the internet then were through the overly expensive cyber cafes, i wanted something personal that i could use at whatever time i desired. After my mum eventually succumbed to my pleas, we got the modem and subscribed to the night plan which cost N5,000. The night plan started at 11 p.m and ended at 7 a.m so i became more of an Internet Vampire if there was ever to be such word.

Internet with Zoom was slow with an average speed of 11kbps. Most of what i do and know today all began with this first internet subscription. I opened my Facebook and Twitter accounts in that month, even my blog ( The Emmagination) was opened that same month also. Even my first Facebook picture was uploaded in that same month.

To round it up, getting online via Zoom mobile was a bittersweet experience.
Beautiful in the sense that it started me and gave me the foundation in all that i do today but bitter because most nights it wouldn’t connect and even when it did connect, it was a real pain to use. Once, it took me all 7 hours to download a 145mb file but overall it was okay, well at least at the time.



I started browsing with Airtel on a per KB basis about six months before they started offering mobile data plans. I can boldly stand up and say that i have spent the most on Airtel than any other data provider in Nigeria at the moment. After they started offering 100MB/1000 Naira data plans, i subscribed and burned through it in days most times. It could be agonizingly slow but it was good for me.

After getting frustrated with the slow speed that i was offered, i’ve been switching back and forth between Glo and Mtn for my data servings.


Browsing on Mtn has been a very rocky experience for me but it has been mostly good than bad. Prior to now, it used to be bad but it has been good as of late. In fact, it is the network that i am using to compose this post.

MTN has always been bashed by people in Nigeria in almost every aspect, data not exempted but it all depends on your location. According to a recent survey, Mtn topped the likes of Etisalat and Airtel that tout 3.75G networks which just goes to prove that they are not as bad as they are made out to be, confirming that it all depends on your location.


I used Etisalat briefly when they first launched their alleged 3.75G Network. I say alleged because even though it was quite good, my Glo could match or even in some instances beat it. For the little time that i used it, it was FAST.

When i say fast, i mean very fast but that cannot be said of the last time that i used it though which was like a month and the half ago.


I reserved the last for Glo because it is the network that i use the most and the most efficient(at least for me). Plus they are the only network of all the above mentioned that actually gave me free data in excess of 50Gb which i used for about three months before it expired.

I rarely had any interruptions in service like other networks that i used and the most amazing thing to note is the fact that i’ve only subscribed on it like 5 times compared to Airtel that i cannot even remember the amount of times that i subscribed to their service.


I hope i have been able to walk you through my experiences with the mobile networks that i have used, what is your own data story and how did you first get online?


  1. Apart from mtn which i hate passionately, i have used a lot of the networks (including the cdma’s) – with mostly horrible results.

    I have more or less stayed with GLO in recent times. GLO – i would rate 90% on data. call quality is a different kettle of Akamu!

    I guess it pays to embrace prostitution where our networks are concerned. Have them all. Be ready to switch at the drop of a feather.

    Data_life goes on…

  2. I have all the sim cards of the major telecoms providers. I agree with you that as regards MTN,it all depends on your location, but I have used glomobile extensively and I can rate them 97%. The network is very reliable,no regrets at all. The best way †?? avoid disappointment is †?? follow Eyebeekay’s advice:HAVE ALL THE SIMS OF THE MAJOR TELECOMS PROVIDER HANDY!!!

  3. I began using Starcomms in 2007 (my final year at Uniport) when my Dad when bought their dial-up phone/modem for our domestic internet. We used the night plan (9pm – 9am). I used to download videos from youtube using RealPlayer. I remember it took me about an hour to download 10 mins of youtube video. LOL

    Starcomms internet was steady, but slow. While in the hostel, I used to rent a friend’s starcomms modem overnight for N500. I would use Kazaa to download files, and I would hunt for mp3s files and converters. Nowadays, mp3s are ubiquitous. There was a time when I would struggle to find good mp3 files and converters.

    I’ve also used Visafone, Reltel (before they became Zoom mobile), and all the GSM netwoorks. I no longer bother with CDMA networks anymore because their data services now are pitiable (except maybe Starcomms)

    For the past year, I’ve rotated between MTN, Glo, and Etisalat for my data. I use Etisalat for my BIS, and alternate between Glo and MTN for my data whenever I’m in the village, Port Harcourt or Abuja.

  4. @ spacyzume, Starcomms is still pitiable in some places.

    My experience has been more frustrating than good. Starcomms – waste of money and data. I remember having to use GetRight to download an antivirus file that took about 9 hours.

    Glo and Etisalat are non-starters. Glo was the first network I used and it was awful. I would be walking up and down trying to get decent reception and failing miserably. In the end I gave up using it – in fact it only comes out when my in-law is in town. The Etisalat SIM is collecting dust.

    Airtel and MTN are the networks I currently use, with MTN being the most consistent.

  5. Going off topic here but has anyone tried the new mtn time based data package “simple surf”, I’d like to know if its just me or is the 2 hour plan stuck in gprs/edge. i tried it and all i got was about 7 to 15 kbps speeds. After the subscription ended i subscribe to the 10 mb plan and was back in hsdpa land with full speed.

  6. I started (like many other people) with a Nitel landline , with the hash bangs and funny modem sounds…. getting like 16KBps…good old days…the phone bills almost killed me then… I averaged like 10,000 in phone bills alone per month connecting to Linkserve, Hyperia and the likes…

    Then came along Starcomms – 1x, EvDO… Jump forward to today. I have also used Multilinks, Cobranet (Ugo), Swift, Mobitel, MTN, Glo, Airtel, Visafone…

    However MTN (using an HSDPA modem) still remains my best internet because it has been quite reliable over the last two years for me and I’ve moved around a little bit (within town areas of ) Abuja, Lagos, Kogi, Sokoto, Oyo and Bayelsa (Brass!). And no, I don’t work for MTN 😀

  7. I remember praying for a download so badly and yet it still failed. That night my mum said that in my sleep I was talking of downloads and mtn,she took away my phone that morning for fear of madness.
    For etisalat was good now they are bad. MTn still trash Glo, now that’s it. Glo is like a steady engine always there may not be the fastest mtn comes with speed and then stops *for hours* etisalat comes with super speed and then stops for days.

  8. Been on the Airtel network 3 years and counting…and it rocks! Though some days are better than others. Etisalat is usually called up when there is a data downtime…threw away my MTN SIM four years ago and I’ve never had the priviledge of acquiring a Glo SIM.
    Overall the mobile data clime can only get better…

  9. all depends on ur locatn…..
    Mtn,etisalat and glo are good in my area but most relaible,fast n stable are etisalat n mtn
    glo is fast but not reliable and stable,.
    Location :okota isolo, lagos.
    I think its gud u add locatn.

  10. Glo rocks madly, if you are in an area wt glo hsdpa, then you will understand, I av used all them networks, started wt glo in 2004 when they were test running their data services for free for like 6mths and after trying other networks, I am back to glo.

  11. I have been there, done this, done that. I’ve used MTN, Glo, Airtel, Etisalat and Strarcomms.

    Starcomms works well, only that I stream videos and I can’t stand the constant buffering. When I used MTN, they were super good. But there increasingly popular doen time at night made me change.

    Glo doesn’t have stable 3G signal, but I use it as my primary line. They were the first to offer 3k/month. I’m stuck with them on my mobile.

    Right now, Etisalat does it for me. The downtime they have are not very frequent. I use it with my portable/pocket wifi. When my mobile internet on my phone misbehaves, I simply switch on my pocket wifi.

    I tried the newly launched Airtel 3.75G network here in Amuwo Odofin. It’s fast, but not as reliable as my Etisalat, but more stable on 3G+ than Glo.

    For me it is 1st Etisalat, 2nd Glo, 3rd Airtel. I can’t vote for the others.

    Question – Please, which network with unlimited plan is the best – Spectranet, Swift, Mobitel or iPNX?

  12. I have tried them all and in my house the best networks are
    1. Etisalat
    2. Mtn
    3. Glo and last network is
    4. Airtel.
    Although it seems Airtel is improving but am stuck with etisalat cause they are the only network that allow me stream youtube on my phone. Etisalat also upgrades its internet service everyweek cause they inform subscribers via text.

  13. @Jesse Oguns. The only network that i know of that has unlimited data is swift. They cheapest unlimited data plan from them cost N30,000 per month and has a maximum speed of 512kbps.

  14. Johnny yeah thats true…

    I subscribed to mtn 20hrs on sunday and after i downloaded 100mb… The speed became extremely slow… As in i started getting edge speed of 11-35kbps all thru… The problem is once u download or ur data comsumption reach 100mb on 2hrs or 20hrs ur line will be throttled and when ur 100hrs reach 500mb ur line throttled

    the simple surf is just the biggest scam so far from empty network called mtn

    beta stick with ur data cap plan like me am back on etisarat

  15. I have used Mtn, Glo. Glo works very well for me in Warri and Port harcourt,their 3G is always constant and the download speed is very good.But there is only one problem i have with these GSM networks,why don’t they offer unlimited data plans?I happen to use download a lot.@ johnny,i tried the simple surf,i subscribed to the two hour plan.For the first 25 minutes,the speed was good, it was between 500kbps – 1.2Mbps,and the network was 3G,but after that 25 minutes the speed dropped to 100kbps – 200kbps and the network was still 3G.I think Mtn programmed it to be restricted or capped after a certain time.

  16. I ventured into internet in late 90s and my internet stuffs were done in countless Night browsing (goodoldays).

    Presently, I use Swift for my home internet and MTN for my internet on the go.

    I also have a Glo line but the Glo line chooses when to work.

    My swift is not 24hrs, so when on leave I do connect the MTN to my laptop and its impressive, just 2 weeks ago i subscribed to MTN 500MB 2000naira and it was great sharing it to my Laptop.

  17. glo-90%
    etisalat -3%
    despite am using mtn to post this but that just the truth

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