I have three active mobile internet subscriptions: one from Airtel (which thankfully, I did not pay for), one from Glo (which is my primary connection),

NCC needs to phase out 2G communications in Nigeria

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I have three active mobile internet subscriptions: one from Airtel (which thankfully, I did not pay for), one from Glo (which is my primary connection), and a third from Etisalat (which is my default fallback for when Glo fails). You would think that between those three, I would be adequately covered. Alas, if you think so, you are wrong. All those three mobile internet service providers make noise about having the fastest and most reliable 3G broadband services. I have been unable to use 3G on any of them in the last few days. The only thing that works on the three networks is the stone-age 2G mobile internet. And even that is barely usable.


Here it is: 3G services are not where they should be in Nigeria at the moment. Coverage is sketchy and poor. This is years after the first 3G mobile internet service was launched commercially, and almost no subscriber can boast of a consistent, reliable 3G internet experience from any of the networks. As far as I can tell, the primary reason why 3G services have not been given the attention that they need is because the networks have clauses that excuse them: “Where 3G service is unavailable, you will be able to browse on 2G”. That’s basically what the clause says, regardless of how it is worded. It simply means, “Hey, we are selling you 3G, but we take no responsibility if you do not get 3G”.

Where 3G services exist, they are at least better than 2G connections. The real problem here is that our networks do not seem committed to taking care of that coverage. Where 3G networks exist, they go offline erratically, leaving subscribers with the locomotive-type engines that we know as 2G services.

Have a look at this scenario:


Solution: Scrap 2G

The Nigerian Communications Commission needs to give a date for the phase out of 2G networks. Darn! 2G is so old that I can’t even imagine why ANYONE still runs a 2G network today. When was the last time anyone used dial-up on mobile? Yes; the same way that dial-up was phased out is the same way that 2G needs to go. This time though, I recommend that it be done by legislation. Government needs to force it.

Give the networks 6 months to upgrade their entire coverage to 3G and then shut down their 2G systems. Simple. Until that is done, our mobile networks will continue to treat 3G like toppings on ice cream, instead of as the ice cream it should be. I will use every contact that I have in government circles to push this idea. Phase out 2G networks. This is 2013.

Somebody is going to say that not even in the Americas and Europe is such a thing being done. Well, those countries don’t also have providers who generally pay lip service to 3G broadband. We are not them, and they are not us. Desperate situations call for desperate measures. Why can it not start from Nigeria? Why can we not be trendsetters? Somebody will say that this will affect millions of subscribers who have only 2G-enabled phones. Perhaps a phased disengagement then: shut down 2G services in 6 months in large cities first, then replicate same across other regions over an extended period of time. The cost of 3G phones are dropping so fast that by the end of the phased period, everyone who needs an internet-connected phone can afford a 3G device.

It isn’t as if users with 2G phones are not suffering too. As said earlier, 2G is barely usable. Have you tried chatting on Facebook via a 2G connection? You know how often you have to keep re-sending a chat just to get it to go; don’t you? That is not life. That is not internet. Let’s just get this old hog called 2G shut down and move on. Chances are that the 3G services will get a bit – if not significantly – better than what we have today. Coverage will improve too. At least, we will have the semblance of an online existence, not this current lousy excuse. I have been trying to chat with someone this morning over this lousy 2G connection and have spent over ten minutes re-sending just one chat message. As imperfect as our networks’ 3G services are, if I were on a 3G connection now, that wouldn’t be happening.

Here is an example of what I’m talking about:

2G is just crap. 3G works better. Compel the wobbling and fumbling network operators to upgrade to full 3G technology and shut down 2G once and for all time. Let’s be done with this and move ahead to better things please.

I am tired of trying to get work done, but being unable to do so because my mobile internet service providers are copping out on 3G. Please compel them to shut down the 2G locomotive engines and give us bullet trains.


  1. Mr. Mo, i hope you’ve not forgotten that there are still some basic phones that doesn’t have 3G. Considering this, scrapping 2G service will be impossible. Even in advanced countries, there are still people who depend on the 2G network so NCC should rather get them to offer better services. Imagine MTN who has the largest number of subscribers still without HSPA… SMH! Some networks are still bragging of how fast their Internet is yet they have never offered a reliable connection. NCC really needs to get to work!

  2. I think I should just go ahead and state the obvious… 2G has NOT been phased out in any country in the world… why? it is more reliable and uses less energy… Dial up wasnt phased out (people just stopped using it because there were better options available and it has almost died off, some people still use AOL dial up in the USA). Amazing but true: AOL’s dial up business still makes over $150 million in quarterly operating income

    NCC phasing out 2G instead of the networks improving their data networks is like trying to kill a fly on your TV with a shotgun. it doesn’t guarantee that things would improve. Moreover I don’t think the networks would invest anymore money to improve their 3G networks when the whole world is moving towards LTE and they are probably waiting for a 4G frequency auction.

    our network issues are basically a reflection of everything in Nigeria whet nothing works like it should.

  3. I totally agree with @Martinkem, except on the Last Paragraph.
    Corruption and zero enforcement culture has destroyed the Nation thus fat.

  4. It is obvious this article was orchestrated by a moment of frustration. No, of course Mr. Mo is not serious, he was only venting his anger and frustration. I can remember the article on how SMS will serve better than online adverts, how SMS banking will be better implemented in the rural areas than the urban regions who already have internet banking and ATM machines that serve them better. There are a number of his other articles that rightly portrayed SMS as still very viable and relevant in the country and of course other third word nations where dumb and feature phones are prevalent and I’m convinced this article is borne out of frustration than serious thought of the gains and implications of such rash action.

    No, such action will not be fair and will be worse than criminalizing gay marriage and show of same sex sensual affection. why should we segregate against people using feature and dumb phones because of the offense of our operators or forcing them into budgets they may not be prepared for. There certainly is the need for our operators to up their games but phasing out 2G network may not be the right solution even though it may help.

  5. Hmm am surprised that you need 2G network discontinued. Is it because edge and GPRS services on 2G can not serve the required bandwidth ?

    I lived in UK for a while and the 3G services was not much different. Vodafone did not have services everywhere as they are still rolling out which is exactly what is happening here now.

    Lets also recall that 2G still presents the best voice quality especially with codecs like G711 While 3G presents better and faster internet services, it should be noted that voice services over 3G especially with latest codecs like G729 still need more development time to be compared with 2G
    At this stage, 2G and 3G must complement each other for better customer satisfaction.
    However, when you want to combine the two functions (voice quality on 2G and internet speedon 3G) by discontinuing 2G,not many operators meet this test at the moment, Etisalat to me is the best to serve this function as their 3G has very low latency which is good enough to support G711 codec (voice) on 3G

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