Opinion: Why Ntel will not be Nigeria’s data saviour

Hope, faith, and belief are the one of the many things religion teaches us to keep body and soul in one piece. In our country Nigeria, these three things are the pillars we have relied upon in times of turbulence, with many of us having that conviction that things will definitely get better for the common man.

The story of NITEL/Mtel has been a long and sorry one. From great prospects many years ago, the company was badly managed and was eventually swept away into the abyss. Last year, a new company, NATCOM, acquired NITEL/Mtel assets and is set to begin operations under the name, Ntel. Ntel is looking to make a splash with 4G LTE mobile broadband in Nigeria and say they are on the verge of commercial launch.

Ntel

From people’s comments both in real life and in forums online, I see expressions of hope, faith and belief. However, I feel less enthusiastic about this second coming. What new thing exactly will Ntel bring to the table? In what way is Ntel expected to be different from the patterns we have seen with existing service providers in Nigeria over the years?

Consider the current situation of things we are facing in this country. There are clear reasons why I think ntel would or could be another disappointment.

First, the power situation in this country is abysmal in most parts. I won’t say that this has hindered other mobile/internet network operators from providing their services, but this has eaten deep and fully reflects in the prices and quality of their services. Look at Smile, and Swift – all internet providers. Look at their tariffs. Even Spectranet that people so much patronize because of their cheaper packages recently jacked up their prices. What miracle would ntel do? How can I expect their tariffs to be cheaper? I don’t see that happening. The average man out there is still likely to be unable to afford their services when eventually launched.

Instability, unreliability, and inconsistency are major issues that run across network operators in Nigeria. If the past is anything to go by, we are very likely to see a situation where the network starts off with blazing speeds rolling over the top. Then after a while, the speeds drop and degenerate to sh*t (Sorry for my bad English). Many of us already have similar experiences and that might also be the case for ntel.

There’s that general sense that ntel is bringing a paradigm shift to liberate us from the internet darkness we are still experiencing in this country. My best advise is not to count our chickens before they are hatched. Cast away that hope or faith you harbor for ntel till they actually do something worth applauding. I watch and wait till it manifests into reality. Till then…..

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4 comments

  1. I tend to think that, a lot of people would pay for rock solid, Huber reliable speedy internet service

    They could distinguish themselves in this way,without necessarily being a price disruptor..

    1. EyeBeeKay, I am in agreement with this sentiment. This was what I recommended to Etisalat when they hit the market years ago. Sadly, even Etisalat’s data service leaves much to be desired now.

      Sad to say, but the quality of service on Smile too has dropped. It is still way more reliable than the competition, but it isn’t what it used to be in the beginning. Someone has to break this jinx.

      We need just one service provider who will provide rock solid, reliable internet service, even if we have to pay a little bit more for it.

  2. Thing is, for a rock-solid internet service, the network needs to restrict subscribers. If external circumstances improve, add more.

    None of the ISPs have any control over externals like the national grid(lock), only their locations and subscriber base.

    I’ve seen this rise and fall of network services so many times. I honestly can’t see nTel being any different. You just need to put on your seatbelts and be prepared for a bumpy ride. Let’s revisit this topic a year after launch.

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