This is the second part of the article, ‘Nigeria: Two sides to GSM at 10’. We all know the saying, “The customer is always right”.

Two sides to GSM in Nigeria at 10 – Part Two

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This is the second part of the article, ‘Nigeria: Two sides to GSM at 10’.

We all know the saying, “The customer is always right”. However, although we’ve had GSM for ten years now, there are still issues that leave one wondering if subscribers are at the heart of providers’ decision making.

GSM in Nigeria

The GSM market in Nigeria is very lucrative for service providers considering that none of them have folded up and even more licenses are being sought after. Service providers need the subscribers to stay in business. Treat subscribers right or risk low patronage and being thrown out of business; right?

Considering the fact that mobile providers and mobile subscribers need one another to survive, there should be mutual respect and trust.


In 2001, when GSM arrived, a line was sold for as high as N20,000. Call tariffs were as high as N50 per minute, and as low as N25 per minute for on-net calls. Back then, we didn’t even have per second billing.

Although today things are a lot different with lines going for next to zero naira, per second billing now available, and much lower call rates, we still see some tariff plans that leave one wondering if the customers are thought of at all.

Service providers run adverts, telling customers of bargain rates. How often do they tell us that there are hidden agenda to these packages, capable of robbing us of our money?

Why would I activate a new tariff plan, and be robbed of my benefits from the previous package without a warning?

Why should I be slammed with a caller tune I didn’t ask for and be billed continuously for it?

Quality of Service

Not much has changed from what we started with in terms of network delivery – network congestion is still the order of the day.

Error messages which do not really tell us the situation of things are still a part of our daily calls. Examples:

  • Sorry your call cannot be completed at the moment.
  • Sorry your account is too low, please load an all in one card (even when you have surplus airtime)
  • The number you are calling is not available at the moment (even if you are staring at the phone with full network signal)
  • The number you are calling is incorrect (even though it’s a number you’ve always dialed)
  • The number does not exist on the GLO network (I understand an MTN number not being on the GLO network, but when the number dialed is a registered GLO line?)
  • This number does not have the facilities to receive calls.

Do these error messages tell us the truth, or is it just a case of their systems being overcrowded with call requests?

Customer Support

Ten years on, and you still can’t call customer care of network providers and receive prompt response. The calls either do not go through or you are kept on hold for a while, and at times, even after being put on hold, you can’t be attended to.

Operators’ service and quality delivery is inconsistent. In the books of these operators, it seems that living in a small metropolitan city is a curse. Should it be so? Considering that we all get charged the same amount for calls made and data used.

People visit customer care centres for days without getting solutions to their problems. Its either the server is down, or something else.

In July, the Lagos State House of Assembly urged the Federal Government to intensify its statutory monitoring of the activities of telecommunications companies in the country. The house specifically mentioned “the poor services being rendered by these telecommunications outfits in Nigeria”.

We shall hope that something good comes out of this. In the meantime, what have beeng your experiences – sweet and/or bitter in the hands of our GSM network providers?

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