There is this ad by one of the mobile networks that asks why bother with multiple SIMs and offers you 200% bonus airtime when you subscribe to a particular package. Not a bad offer. However, the crux of the matter is that all the bonus in the world is useless if I am unable to use it. Simply put, it is not about low tariffs alone. As much as anyone appreciates low tariffs, quality of service and reliability are key as well.
Why have many lines, despite bonuses and low-cost offers? Because network services often suck; that’s why. It is very interesting that I have a SIM from this particular network. That SIM has 2GB of mobile internet data on it that I have been unable to use, whether I switch to 2G or 3G. On another network, sometimes, I cannot send out SMS, and often I cannot get calls out. What is the point of all the bonuses in the world if one cannot use them when one needs them?
Even my die-hard father who stuck with one line for many years now has three. Shock! Horror!! The only Nigerian I know who still owns only one line is probably my mom. She has stayed with that single mobile line that she has ever owned. She is even more die-hard than her husband. I’m the mobile black sheep, having rotated through as many lines as there are GSM masts in the country.
Out with the Location excuse!
We often cite location as a factor in performance. While there is no sure way to eliminate the location factor in performance, there is NO excuse for a network’s services to be unusable at any location that it covers. Performance may vary – and that is acceptable, but unusable? Please. I have been from location to location and found services unusable at all in different places. No; we must drop that lame argument. A 3G service should provide 3G speeds at any location. Varying 3G speeds, yes; but 3G speeds all the same.
A nation of backups
In Nigeria, we are used to having backups for everything. Backup power generators and inverters, backup wells and boreholes, and even backup roads (read: alternative routes for those who want to avoid tolls). We have backup cars too. Backup SIMs are certainly no strange phenomenon either.
Until we have more reliable network services, I doubt that a lot of people will ditch the concept of carrying multiple SIMs. Dual, triple and quadruple SIM phones will continue to sell like hotcake in this environment. The mobile networks need to fix their shoddy services before asking us to ditch multiple SIMs. Why have many lines? D’oh!