Ordeals of a Mobile Internet Subscriber

This is a guest post by Kolu Ajofaa. It illustrates the ordeals that the average Nigerian subscriber suffers at the hands of mobile service providers, be they on GSM or CDMA platforms. It is sad, outrageous, as well as hilarious.

It is being published unedited. What you read below is what was posted.

Sorry, if this post is excessively long, but I really want to get this off my chest for the edification of anyone who does not know what they can be getting into in Nigerian Mobile Internet.

What the [*Bleep!*] is going on with phone internet services in Nigeria? Is this typical of Black Africa only? I paid through the nose to get internet from a *wannabe sledge-hammer* phone service. I will even mention their name! It was O-NET, okay? I bought the fixed wireless terminal thingy by HUWEI. They told me (well, the one guy I dealt with, anyway) that this was the best deal.

I asked the guy: How do I configure my computer, then? Don’t I get, you know, a MANUAL?

He looked at me like he was advertizing *CLOSE-UP.* Oh NO. *I* couldn’t *POSSIBLY* configure the internet settings by *MYSELF!* Only the superior intellect of the Arcane Brotherhood Mumbo de Jumbo could possibly handle the awesome task of configuring a computer system to the internet. I should have to take the computer system to… [*Drum Roll!*] *(echo=on) THE GROTTO OF CON-FIGURE-NATION-N-N-N (echo=off)!*

This was at a place about three miles from where we were. It was situated inside one of those terrible, horrible places where supposedly equal people store and remove money. 1% of its patrons own 99% of the money stored there and never give you any, while 99% of the patrons share 1% of the money. This thing is jokingly called a “bank.” I never get banks. Why do they readily lend money to the people who don’t need it, and virtually deny it totally to those who do?

What I mean is, that when I was told that the configuration of my computer system had to be done inside a “bank,” I already knew that this was so not gonna end well! My then computer system weighed almost as much as I did. I just wanted to go online- I didn’t want a hernia!

Couldn’t he just GIVE me the settings? (The [*Bleep!*] could at the very least have LOOKED like he was CONSIDERING saying “YES.”) His reply was basically: Couldn’t I just give him the [*Bleep!*]ing money- was I buying, or what?

I handed over the money.

After considering logistics, checking my medical history, and such, I went and did something I was in no hurry whatsoever to do: I bought my first laptop. I considered this an unnecessary extravagance, because for one laptop (new or *Tokunbo*), you can get like three desktop or two tower computers of the same power. I loaded it up and took it to the “bank,” about a week after I paid for the so-called “Internet Account.”

The first shocker was, I was informed that my account would be counted FROM THE DAY I PAID, not from the day they STARTED the account. My reply, (leaving out all the unnecessary bits) was that I was the first guy in my department buying into this here gig, so if they [*Bleep!*]ed me over, GOOD LUCK suckering other co-workers of mine into subscribing. That had like the same effect on them as a duck has on a Police jeep that ran it over. A prerequisite of certain business concerns is that underling hired hands must not exceed the minimum level of intelligence required to be able to not understand serious threats.

Shocker number two was that no only did I have to hand my laptop- now the most expensive single item I owned- to them, but I had to watch as they- all three of them- failed to insert the USB device. There was this *bimbo* (in Nigeria, girls LIKE being called “Bimbo!” It gets worse, GUYS let themselves be called BIMBO- and stand up straight, and lead perfectly happy lives! If I had been named “Bimbo,” I would never have survived primary school!) who tried to FORCE the USB plug into the delicate port! Now I knew why they were doing this is a bank: If I started to strangle any one of them, the security guards would beat the [*Bleep!*] out of me. Why else would they have only one guy to take my money, and send me to three guys to “configure” my system?

Shocker Number Three: After 20 minutes (from the time it occurred to me to start to time this) the fellow acknowledged that he was making no headway getting the laptop to automatically recognize the modem programme cd,and TOLD ME what was happening. This was such a stupendous concept, I almost could not believe that this was happening. This piece of [*Bleep!*] actually considered that *I* the *owner* might KNOW SOMETHING! I briefly replied that the probable reason for the laptop not automatically installing the modem programme was that I had already installed it. They were amazed.

HOW, the fellow asked incredulously, was I (a mere customer, with only 5 years of experience in handling computers) able to do THAT? I, uh, read the manual, I replied. I could see that he thought that that was a totally radical idea! So did his partners.

Now that that Mount Everest of deductive reasoning had been reduced to the molehill it was constructed out of by as many as two decades of carefully inculated Nigerian education, the configuration of my system could proceed. I determined that I was going to see for myself exactly why I could not do this myself at home. Right.

After about thirty minutes, and several phone calls, presumably to have the operator enable something (when I had installed everything the foreign-made manual said, I called the operator, over the weekend, and asked what to do next. The operator said, “We don’t give out that information.”) he admitted that HE COULD NOT CONFIGURE MY LAPTOP TO THE INTERNET.

“It’s the Dialogue Box,” he complained. “It is not giving the proper dialogue. If you were using Windows 2000- or XP…” “XP? What? NEVER!” I swore. (At that time, I scrupolously avoided having anything to do with the newfangled and suspicious Windows XP. Just as I avoid having anything to do with Widows VISTA today. Long story. To be brief: the first version of Windows ANYTHING is ALWAYS [*Bleep!*].)

“Whatever sort of Operating System I am using should not matter,” I told him. “Just because I am using Windows Millenium Edition cannot mean that the system cannot access the internet.”

“I have configured systems,” he said with dignity, (Someone trying to talk down to you, who is shorter than you, is always funny. Unless he is holding either a gun, or a crucial part of your anatomy. He had neither.) “using Windows VISTA, XP, 2000, 98 and 95 (at which point I knew he was lying). I have never had to deal with Windows Millennium before! No one has ever brought such a system in here before!”

I was really tired, This would have been shocker Number Five, but I was becoming used to the situation. He insisted that I had to install Windows XP on my plainly labelled, “Made for Windows 98? Pentium II. I was not even sure that that was possible. I told him that I did not intend to leave without the configuration data, so I could install it on my desktops at home and in the office (I was the first to bring a computer to our department. We were not wired for Internet in those days, and every man did as it seemed right in his eyes.)

Shocker Number Six arrived and was duly felt.
The configuration data that O’NET “does not give out” to mere customers who paid over N10,000 for their junk internet consisted of THIS:

DIAL-UP Phone Number: #777#

USERNAME: Your full O-Net PHONE NUMBER.

PASSWORD: Your O-Net phone number, MINUS the “036? prefix.

THAT WAS ALL YOU NEEDED to finish the configuration. Their so-called engineer could have given that to me THE FIRST MINUTE, instead I had to endure an hour of torture, at the hands of morons whose IQs were the girl’s bra size. In inches.

I was later to learn that this sort of account is the norm in, say, America, and the configuration data is common knowledge. (Username = e-mail address; Password = ISP [E-mail address minus eververything before the @ and the @ itself].)

WHY SHOULD OUR PEOPLE HERE WANT TO FEEL LIKE SOME SORT OF *BIG-SHOTS* FOR KNOWING *SACRED-SECRET KNOWLEDGE,* WHEN SIMPLE FACTS SHOULD BE COMMON KNOWLEDGE? Even when the phone service providers have free browsing available, WHY WOULDN’T THEY TELL US? If it were some sort of “security loophole” that we shouldn’t be using, WHY CAN’T THEY CLOSE IT for once and for all? somebody knows important data, either way, and is not telling those who need to know!

The going rate for enabling Free Browsing in Nigeria right now is N5,000. WHY?

Just because the majority of people who can even afford the equipment (GPRS phone) are IGNORANT- no one ever told them Good Stuff, and they don’t know where to go to find it.

(It is basic African Culture to be AFRAID of important knowledge, because knowledge has traditionally been married to sorcery, witchcraft and demonism. If you learned stuff your *Don Juan* sorceror mentor didn’t personally spoon-feed to you, you could get messed up by some spirit being he didn’t control. A LOT of our people are brought up NOT to even WANT to learn. If you ask a Nigerian student why they don’t know stuff, the typical answer is, said in an apathetic whining tone:”WE WERE NOT TAUGHT!”)

Creating bottle-necks of essential information is a prerequisite to unfair exploitation and strangulation to literal death by oppressors. It will be the death of us all.

When O-Net actually charged me for the week before my account was enabled, AS THEY HAD SAID THEY WOULD, I declined to renew it. I found it slow compared to our university-provided internet- which cost a fraction of what they charged. Only one other person in my department ever subscribed to them- and he had done so before me. I routinely download files over 10MB in size (comics and books), and a download speed that drops to less than 5kb/sec, never mind less than 50kb/sec is a big joke.

The service providers CANNOT COMPLAIN that, “Oh, there’re just TOO MANY of you clients! We cannot supply you all at speed!” That is a stupid idea and reasoning that is used in ELECTRIC POWER SUPPLY, in WATER SUPPLY, CONSTRUCTION OF ROADS, and the quality of education and employment in our country!

If you don’t know how to manage a business PROPERLY, you GET OUT, and make way for someone who does! But not in Nigeria! When people in chargwe don’t know what they are doing, and screw up the systems, they don’t get OUT- they get RAISES! Imagine if you went to some nice little restaurant, and paid expensively for an excellent meal. You are one of, say, 100 customers per day. Then, when some new corporation or something sts up in town, the clientele goes up to 10,000 customers per day. Why should that affect the size or the quality of your meals? How can you be made to pay the same amount for a meal that is 1% the size you have come to believe is “standard,” because, the manager says, “The resources are limited, and we must make the same amount go to all the customers. (You don’t want to cheat the other customers, do you? ARE you a CHEAT?)” *ye olde Jedi Mind-Trick* is used to make us feel bad, for demanded the goods and services that we paid for.

How can we be told that the quality and volume of what we pay for must DECREASE, because the number of suck- uh, CLIENTS, the same service is sold to has increased, WHILE WHAT WE PAY DOES NOT DECREASE? Is there any other country whose people are as easily duped as we are, or is it just us?

Kolu Ajofaa

Mister Mobility

I started blogging about mobile in 2004 as a fun way to share my passion for gadgets and mobile services. My other interests include digital media, speaking and teaching, photography, travelling, and dancing.

3 thoughts on “Ordeals of a Mobile Internet Subscriber

  • July 29, 2009 at 4:28 pm
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    What the writer has described is the kind of treatment / experience you usually pass through. Ignorant people are often put in technical positions. It is pathetic.

    Business owners seem to forget that the human resource aspect of a business is the most critical to the success of ALL businesses!

    Business people commit colossal sums to the infrastructure aspect of their business but recruit poorly trained and unmotivated individuals..

  • August 22, 2010 at 2:34 am
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    Whoa! quite a number of [*Bleep!*]s there, more than I cared to count. But if you had to carry your laptop around like a talisman (literally), looking for a better signal for your modem, you’d probably [*Bleep!*] too. I mean come on, one year later, I spend about two plus hours downloading a ten megabyte email attachment…and I’d probably spend five trying to upload one. No wonder people are freaked out and will continue to cheat mobile internet service providers every chance they get. Believe me, it takes a great amount of resolve to keep paying these prohibitive rates when you could cheaply procure a free browsing hack that’ll last you the next three months. I wonder why I do it.

    As far as mobile services go, I think Nigerians are getting the short end of the stick (don’t we always?). I find it hard to believe that mobile subscribers outside nigeria even have an inkling of what we endure at the hands of our mobile service providers. In a country where telecoms companies build network masts right on top of residential accomadation (shouldnt’t that be illegal?), they sure can get away with anything they please.

  • August 22, 2010 at 5:06 am
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    Subscribers should learn to vote with their money. Its what I do.

    I download 10MB files in maximum of 5 minutes. This is 2010, and any high speed mobile internet service provider that cannot deliver broadband speeds should be ignored. Simple.

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