4G LTE

Libya does not make mobile news every day. The North African country has only two mobile network operators, Al Madar and Free Libyana. The latter is also the more advanced of the two. And now it has launched the first 4G network in Libya.

Libyana Mobile’s 4G LTE coverage is initially limited to Tripoli, Zawiya, Sabha and Misrata but reports say the service will be extended to other regions soon.

4G LTE

LTE is a fourth generation (4G) mobile technology that delivers data speeds up to 10 times faster than current 3G networks. As such, mobile internet subscribers in Libya with compatible phones can now enjoy super fast internet speeds.

Glossary

  • 4G = Fourth Generation
  • LTE = Long Term Evolution
Ntel

With a fairly established presence in Lagos and Abuja, Nigerian 4G LTE provider, nTel, has found its way to the coastal city of Port-Harcourt. To all the people clamoring for super fast internet at Port, you can now enjoy 4G speeds in your city. Though there were no official buzz to announce this, we looked at the ntel website and found Port-Harcourt among coverage areas.

Ntel

Where to buy ntel SIM in Port-Harcourt

For now, we have information that you can pick the SIM from the following addresses:

  • Houston Tech ltd, 8 liberty Drive, Alcon Rd, Woji
  • Idems Ultimate ltd, 278 Aba Rd, opp shell Residential Area, Rumukurushi

Their network covers most of Port-Harcourt city and environs. Don’t forget to check compatibility of your device with the network.

Ntel made its first on-net test data call in Lagos on Monday January 18, 2016 then followed this up with its first on-net Voice over LTE (VoLTE) call in Lagos on Thursday February 25, 2016 while network rollout was announced on Friday April 8, 2016.

Initial network rollout was in Abuja, followed by Lagos, and now Port Harcourt.

MTN 4G data plan

MTN Nigeria announced commencement of 4G LTE services some months ago. I was one of the early adopters and found it fairly good. However, in the last few weeks, that Y’hello 4G LTE network seems to have gone AWOL. Everywhere I have gone, I am no longer able to find and use MTN’s 4G network.

At the office; gone. At home; gone. At other locations in Lagos that I have been; gone. MTN 4G seems to be gone.

MTN 4G data plan

Others are reporting similar experiences too. Fred tweeted this yesterday:


This morning, I needed to make use of it again and switched to 4G network mode. Nada. Zilch. MTN 4G network is still gone.

As I have said before, the quality of service issues that internet service providers (ISPs) in Nigeria are known for is still very much a regular feature. You know the drill: start out great, then proceed to water down the service till it is but a shadow of what it should be. Nothing has changed.

But a situation where a network disappears for prolonged periods of time is unacceptable. Plus, there has been no notice to subscribers explaining anything. No; not acceptable. Perhaps, MTN cannot be depended on to provide reliable 4G internet service. At least, from my end here.

Or perhaps MTN Nigeria have turned off their 4G LTE network. Only one way to tell. If you use MTN 4G, please share what your experience with it has been like in the last few weeks.

data tariff hike

A data tariff hike is imminent in Nigeria as operators act on an NCC (Nigerian Communications Commission) directive. Mister Mobility explains why it is happening.

I needed to renew my MTN data plan last night and proceeded to dial *131# to do so. After completing the process, the line ran the USSD code and then I got a prompt saying: “Connection problem or invalid MMI code”. I have tried to renew several times since that time and got that same prompt each time. Finally, this morning, I called the MTN customer care hotline and got the following pre-recorded audio message first:

“Dear customer,

Please be informed that from the 1st of December 2016, all MTN data plans will be changed in compliance to NCC directive to all operators. Thank you.”

data tariff hike

A colleague using Glo 4G internet got this message:

Dear Customer, your plan will soon expire after which you will be moved to Flexi voice and data recharge. Use it the way you like. To buy another data plan visit http://hsi.glo.com or dial *777#.

Amazing. Apparently, there was some directive from the NCC to the effect that mobile operators make changes to their data plans. The fact that this notice has been put up tells us that the changes will not be good. They will not result in a further drop in tariff. Nigerians can expect an increase in mobile data plan tariff from the 1st of December, 2016.

Why The Data Tariff Hike?

Nobody I have spoken to is giving me any details of why this is happening. Apparently, everyone is keeping hush about it. But I can make an informed guess.

This NCC directive happened to keep the big operators like MTN, Etisalat, Glo and Airtel from killing the smaller ones like Smile, Spectranet, Swift and Ntel. Like I have commented earlier, the big four stepping into 4G LTE and offering those ridiculously low data tariffs meant that sooner or later, the smaller players will pack up.

Think about it: the four big operators have much better coverage, presently offer more competitive tariffs and are deploying 4G LTE across the country. The smaller players have zero leverage in this scenario. Zero. The smaller players have no competitive advantage whatsoever. This will lead to loss of many jobs and collapse of investments. The country cannot afford that.

There is no other valid reason I can think of behind a directive to increase data tariffs by the operators. Outside of this reason, Nigeria stands to gain much more from the recent reduction in data tariffs by the mobile operators than from a tariff hike.

To be certain, this data tariff hike will be unpleasant to many Nigerian internet users. It is unpleasant to me. I am not excited about it in any way. But it looks like a necessary evil to avoid a greater one.

Meanwhile, the renewal problem I am experiencing on MTN is likely to be from backend activities to modify their system in readiness for December 1st. What the new tariffs will be like is still unclear. Will the big operators revert to what was on ground before the recent drop in data tariffs or find a middle ground? December 1 is around the corner.

PS: Is any Nollywood movie director already working on a movie titled “December 1”?

Update: This The Cable news report confirms that the imminent data hike is a measure to protect small operators and new entrants. The NCC has re-introduced the floor price for data service. Small operators and new entrants are exempted from the re-introduced interim floor price for data service of 0.90k/MB. The price floor for data was earlier removed in November 2015

Excerpt from the NCC directive:

In order to provide a level playing field for all operators in the industry, small operators and new entrants to acquire market share and operate profitably, small operators and new entrants are hereby exempted from the price floor for data services.

It added, “For the avoidance of doubt a small operator is one that has less than 7.5 per cent market share and a new entrant is an operator that has operated less than three years in the market.

Update: Wednesday 30th November 2016: The NCC has suspended the directive on data segment price floor.

peg 4G network - three smartphones

You are probably thinking, “This man has come again.” The truth is that I never left. I have been harping on the benefits of being able to peg the network of a smartphone. I shall continue to. This time I am talking about the importance of being able to peg 4G network on a smartphone. Let me tell you a story of three smartphones and two 4G networks.

peg 4G network - three smartphones

Cannot Peg 4G Network: Scene One

Last weekend, I put my MTN 4G SIM card in an Android smartphone that I was to review. As usual, I was all excited about playing with a new toy for the period of the review. Within moments, I had a network signal. I got 4G. Ah! All was good. But the bubble burst not too long after. Ask me what happened. Good.

After a while, the phone network switched to 3G. And then 2G. And then after a period of frustrating wait, it went back to 4G. But it didn’t stay there for long. I dived into the phone settings and found Network Settings. There, I discovered that the only options I had were auto network. In other words, the phone had no options to let me peg it to 2G only, 3G only, or 4G only. For the period of the review, I had to live with the dancing around of the network from 2G to 3G to 4G and back. Internet usage was anything but pleasant for the period.

This is what the network mode menu looks like for a phone that does not provide the option to peg to 4G network only:

peg-4g-network-auto

If you pick 4G, it lets the phone switch between all three. If you select 3G, it lets the phone switch between 3G and 2G. If you select 2G, the device is pegged to 2G only.

Cannot Peg 4G Network: Scene Two

At the office yesterday, a Mobility Arena team member mentioned how he was not getting Etisalat 4G network there at the office. He had enjoyed 4G service all weekend at home and now, here at work where he really needed it, it was nowhere to be found. I checked the network settings menu of his phone and found out that the phone did not provide the option to peg network. So, we decided to see what was up. We removed his SIM card and put it into another phone that provided the option to peg. Then we pegged it to 4G only. Voila! Etisalat 4G appeared. It was just two bars, but it stayed and delivered good speeds.

Of course, we had to return his SIM to his 4G smartphone and he went without 4G service for the rest of the day. The sad thing is that Etisalat mobile internet is mostly unusable in 2G and 3G modes her eat the office, so he was unable to use his data subscription at all. If his phone could peg to 4G network, he would be having a ball.

Cannot Peg 4G Network: Scene Three

Yesterday, I finally got a Glo 4G SIM card. Because of Glo’s rare LTE band 28(700), the only smartphone at my disposal that could work on it was the Lumia 950. I wasn’t excited about the prospects, because I knew that the 950 did not offer 4G only pegging. The only network one can peg on it is 3G. Have a look:

peg-4g-network-lumia-950-3g-only

The next best option was to set it to pick 4G as the highest connection speed. That means the phone will switch between 2G, 3G, and 4G depending on network conditions. I have had my Glo 4G SIM in the Lumia 950 since yesterday afternoon, but the damned phone has stayed locked on 2G (EDGE) all through till now. What the heck! Not even 3G. At least, keep me locked on 3G. Not freaking 2G.What am I going to do with 2G in 2016?

Three different 4G smartphones that did not allow the user to peg 4G network.

Ability To Peg Is Essential

The ability to peg the network that your phone latches to is essential if your smartphone is your primary data device and you require it for serious work. If not, don’t bother. If you use Wifi for most of your work, do ignore this article.

Thankfully, my primary smartphone provides the option to peg the network anyway I want – 2G only, 3G only, 4G only or auto. Here is what the network mode menu looks like:

peg 4g network

When I need best performance, I peg it to 4G only and enjoy the experience.

No Calls When Pegged To 4G

This is important: whenever you peg your smartphone to 4G only, your line will be unreachable fr voice calls and SMS. 4G only is data only. To be able to receive calls, you either peg to 3G or 2G or leave the phone in auto network mode and let it switch as it wills.

Smartphones That Let You Peg 4G Network

Let’s start with phones that don’t. If you love pure Android OS and will use only smartphones that have that, you are out of luck. If you hate skinned Android phones, sorry. Stock Android does not include the option to peg. You can only select auto modes. The first screenshot in this article is from a smartphone that runs pure Android OS.

So, forget about seeing the options to peg network on Nexus, Motorola, Android One and other pure Android smartphones.

By default, Android manufacturers have to add the option to peg network. Modifying Android OS makes it possible. Some do it. Many don’t. I have handled smartphones by Lenovo, Huawei, Samsung, and Apple and can tell you authoritatively that they do not provide the feature to peg network.

Here are some smartphones that let users peg the network:

  1. TECNO: The ability to peg network mode is built into TECNO’s HiOS. It is now a standard feature.
  2. Infinix: Same goes for Infinix Mobility’s XOS.
  3. Lumia: this is a mixed bag. Some Lumias offer the option to peg network; others do not. Don’t ask me why. The engineers behind those phones throw dice or something to determine which phones get it and which do not.

But There Are Apps For That

If your smartphone does not let you peg 4G network, you can install a third party app to add that functionality. An example of such apps is Notification Toggle. There are several others in Google Play. do note that those apps are not 100% reliable. After some interval, the phone loses the pegged network and you have to keep pegging again and again each time that happens.

In my opinion, if 4G service is important to you, just buy a smartphone that lets you peg 4G network. Whichever way you choose to go though, I wish you all the best! May you never be stuck with unusable internet because you could not peg your smartphone’s network to 4G or even 3G.

PS: This dilemma is just as valid for 4G modems and mifi devices. They do not support all 4G LTE bands either. Plus, pegging to 4G network on those devices is often a pain in the neck too.

Lenovo A6600 Dual

The Lenovo A6600 Dual is now officially available. What we have here is a budget smartphone with 4G plus Voice over LTE capabilities.

Lenovo A6600 Dual

Specifications of the Lenovo A6600 Dual

Technology

  • GSM: GSM 850 / 900 / 1800 / 1900
  • 3G: HSDPA 900 /1900/ 2100
  • 4G: LTE-FDD 1(2100) / 2(1900) / 3(1800) / 5(850) / 7(2600) / 8(900) / 20(800)
  • SIM Type: Dual SIM
  • OS: Android 5.0 Lollipop

Design

  • Dimensions: mm
  • Weight:
  • Display: 5.0-inch, 720 x 1280 pixels IPS LCD display with Gorilla Glass 4
  • Sensors: Accelerometer, Proximity and Compass
  • Build: Plastic
  • Colours: White.

Hardware

  • Processor Type:Quad-core 1.0 GHz
  • Processor Name: MediaTek MT6735P
  • Graphics Processor: Mali T720 GPU
  • RAM: 1 GB
  • Internal Storage: 16 GB
  • External Storage: microSD up to 32GB

Camera

  • Rear: 8 MP, 4128 x 3096 pixels, autofocus, LED flash
  • Video recording: Yes, 1080p@30fps
  • Front-facing: 2 MP

Multimedia

  • Music Support: AAC, AMR, MP2, MP3, M4A, MKA,
  • Loudspeaker: Yes
  • Video Support: MP4/MPEG4/H.263/H.264 player
  • FM Radio:

Connectivity

  • Bluetooth: v4.1
  • WiFi: Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n, dual band, Wi-Fi Direct, hotspot
  • GPS: Yes
  • USB: microUSB v2.0

Miscellaneous

  • Charging: Regular
  • Announced: September 2016
  • Availability: September 2016
  • Battery: 2,300 mAh
  • Price: $105

Disclaimer: While we take the pains to ensure accuracy, we can not guarantee that the information on this page is 100% correct.

Sad Smile

Yesterday, I received an email introducing Smile SuperData Plan, a new data plan from the 4G LTE network. Smile SuperData Plan costs N10,000 and gives the subscriber 15GB of data for 30 days. The data can be rolled over as well. I read the mail and moved on. Looking back, I wondered why I as unexcited about this huge leap from what obtained on Smile network before now.

Smile SuperData Plan versus The 4G LTE Competition

In order to make a clear case as to why I think that Smile SuperData Plan is not enticing, let us look at what the competition has to offer:

  • Ntel: N10,000 gets me unlimited internet (throttled after 200GB usage)
  • InterC: N10,000 gets me 25GB
  • MTN 4G: N10,000 gets me 15GB
  • Spectranet: N10,000 gets me 25GB

Why Smile SuperData Plan?

The question one needs to ask now is, If I have N10,000 to splurge on internet, why settle for 15GB on Smile SuperData Plan? What is stopping me from just getting the unlimited plan form Ntel? Coverage? Then perhaps my next best bet is Spectranet. The very last 4G networks on my list would be Smile and MTN, which both give me the least value for money.

Sad Smile - Smile SuperData Plan

No Significant Difference in Performance

What is even more pertinent is that there is no more a significant difference in performance on Smile compared to the competition. For several months, I had received reports from a handful of users that Smile 4G was no longer fast. Eventually, it became my personal experience too. If an ISP is going to offer less volume than the competition, let it be because their network delivers better performance. That isn’t the case here, sadly.

15GB from Smile SuperData Plan isn’t competitive or real value for money, in my opinion. It fails to hit the mark in either volume or performance. Smile needs to return to the drawing board on this one.

spectranet logo

Have you ever tried to purchase a Spectranet SIM card standalone? I have. One phrase: Mission Impossible. I have been to up to four Spectranet outlets in Lagos in the last 9 months. Despite the fact that Spectranet’s Twitter handle assured me that I can buy a SIM card, each outlet tells me that they are unable to sell me a SIM card if I am not buying a modem or router. Sorry, guys, but I have no use for a new router or modem. I have a handful of those things lying around here at the office.

And so, till date, I have been unable to buy a Spectranet SIM card. Just two weeks ago, I sent a member of the Mobility team to a nearby Spectranet shop. It is just a stone’s throw from Mobility Arena’s office. He returned with the same error message: Spectranet wouldn’t sell us a SIM card without a modem or router purchase.

No Spectranet SIM

My good man, Fred Akinrelere, lives in the ancient Ibadan. By the way, Ibadan needs to decide whether it wants to remain ancient or become modern. We are tired. LOL. Anyway, Fred was at a Spectranet store in Ibadan today. After a lot of back and forth, he was finally able to purchase a Spectranet 4G SIM card. He called me to share the news and to narrate how he fulfilled the even Tasks of Hercules before he could get that SIM card. Poor Fred. But I am happy at the good news.

Who know – I might even drive down to Ibadan o he can take me to that shop that dared to buck the archaic trend of not selling SIM cards without modems and routers. At least, finally, I can get a Spectranet SIM card. That I all I want.

Spectranet and Huawei Mate 7

Every time I have asked Spectranet about their SIM card, they tell me that only the Huawei Mate 7 work with it. They know that is bullshit. I know that is bullshit. You know that is bullshit. But Spectranet keeps repeating this nonsense.

I must mention too that the Mate 7 is a 2014 smartphone. Why anyone who wants an up-to-date 4G smartphone would want to buy that in 2016 beats me. There are tons of newer, more advanced devices available in the market today. And quite a number of them cost less too.

Fred has his Spectranet SIM card working fine in his Infinix Hot S smartphone. Here are screenshots:

Spectranet 4G mobile network setting

Spectranet 4G SIM cards

How Fast?

He ran speedtests too. I wasn’t expecting anything fantastic and I wasn’t disappointed. Have a look:

Spectranet 4G speedtest

Fred says he will share more details with me tomorrow.

Subscriber Acquisition Should Be Spectranet’s Goal

Dear Spectranet staff, talk to your bosses (the ones who call the shots). Tell them that you all will be out of jobs soon if they keep running the business this way. Spectranet is a service provider. Subscriber acquisition should be their focus. The service should be their priority. Putting hurdles before people who want to give you THEIR money for your service is a horrible business idea.

What every sensible 4G network in Nigeria needs to do is get their SIM cards into as many hands as possible, regardless of what 4G devices that those people want to use.

Just yesterday, someone asked if I have a beef against Spectranet because I left them out of my list of 4G mobile providers. No; I don’t. But Spectranet seems fixated on selling devices instead of getting its service into the hands of as many people as possible. A network is not mobile in the strict sense of the word if it keeps phones off it network the way Spectranet is doing. That goes for Swift too.

We are chasing after Spectranet now, begging that they to collect our money in exchange for SIM cards and subscription, but the brand seems to be more fixated on selling devices. One day, Spectranet might wake up too late and start chasing subscribers who are no longer interested. Remember the CDMA networks. History might just be repeating itself.

MTN 4G network live

A few hours ago, MobilityArena blogged that MTN is giving their 4G LTE a spin but albeit only those they migrated from the erstwhile CDMA network, Visafone will be able take part in this trial. Well, I can confirm that MTN 4G network live in Ibadan. Let me tell you the story.

I commented on the post that on getting home I would give this a try with my own migrated Visafone to MTN line. Even though I still have about N13,000 out of the N30,000 I was credited on migrating some weeks back I couldn’t use the airtime for data, so I quickly migrated the the line to MTN pulse, bought 500 airtime and activated the N500 for 1GB plan.

Alas! It is working and working well! O’boy am I ecstatic! ??

MTN 4G network live: Screenshots

See screenshot of my phone screen and the two speedtest results I ran. Beginning of the end for the likes of Smile, Spectranet etc? As they say, only time will tell.

MTN 4G network live Ibadan

You don’t have an ex-Visafone line? Eeeya, sorry o… It will soon reach your turn! ?

PS: Mr Mo also confirms that MTN 4G network is live in Lagos on his ex-Visafone line. – Editor

Infinix Hot S 4G test

The Infinix Hot S is a 4G LTE smartphone that supports Smile’s LTE band 20(800) and Ntel’s 3(1800) / 8(900) bands on paper. But as you may already know, that is no guarantee that the phone is actually compatible with the network. LTE compatibility is messy. That a device is specified as supporting a 4G network’s frequency bands does not mean it will necessarily work with it. So, the MobilityArena.com team took the pains to try out SIM cards from both networks in the phone. See our findings from the Infinix Hot S 4G tests after the jump.

Infinix Hot S 4G test

Ntel: Infinix Hot S 4G test

Putting an Ntel 4G SIM card into the Infinix Hot S gave us the surprise of our lives. Almost instantly, the phone locked on to the network. It is the fastest 4G LTE lock that we have obtained on any of the smartphones we have run a 4G test with. Note that we could only use it in data-only mode. No voice.

Smile: Infinix Hot S 4G test

We got very similar results with a Smile 4G SIM card in the Hot S – it locked to the network immediately and we were browsing in no time. As with Ntel, we could use the Smile SIM only with the phone set to 4G only network mode.

Conclusions

The Infinix Hot S is a winner here. It works well with both Smile and Ntel 4G networks, so you can buy it without fear of compatibility issues with either 4G network. Under Network Mode in the phone Settings, 4G only option is available there, and that is the mode we used for both SIM cards. The phone also latches on to the networks very fast.

MTN 4G

If you are resident in Nigeria and follow MobilityArena.com, you are already aware that MTN Nigeria acquired Visafone, have been migrating subscribers off CDMA to their own GSM network and are rolling out a 4G LTE network using Visafone’s compatible frequency band. You are also already aware that MTN 4G has been tipped for a June launch.

The Search for MTN 4G network

Well, I am delighted to confirm to you that after running some searches for available networks, I can confirm that the MTN 4G network is already available (at least here in Lagos where I ran my searches). Have a look at a crop of a screenshot I made from the search results:

MTN 4G available

The catch is that you can’t connect to MTN 4G and use it yet. But it is there, and it is the only 4G network available among the big four operators. Of course, I am certain that restricted access must be available to testers and the like within the organisation.

MTN 4G

We will be in June in some hours, but no-one at MTN that I have spoken to has been able to confirm exactly when the MTN 4G network will be commercially launched. MTN is keeping things under wraps nicely, it seems. We will wait.

When the time comes, it will be interesting to see what performance will be like and how the existing 4G service providers will respond to the giant in the room stepping into the territory.

Yezz Andy 4G C5VP

The Yezz Andy C5VP is a budget 4G LTE smartphone. We are looking at a Quad-core 1.3 GHz processor, 1GB of RAM, 8GB internal storage and a 2020 mAh battery. Check out the complete specs below.

Technology

  • GSM: GSM 850 / 900 / 1800 / 1900
  • 3G: HSDPA 900 / 1900 / 2100
  • 4G: FDD-LTE 3(1800) / 7(2600) / 20(800)
  • SIM Type: Single SIM. Dual SIM variant is available (Andy 5VP)
  • OS: Android 4.4.4 Kitkat

Yezz Andy C5VP

Design

  • Dimensions: 1144.2 x 73.2 x 9.3 mm
  • Weight: 180 g
  • Display: 5.0 inch 540 x 960 pixels, 220 PPI, IPS LCD display
  • Sensors: Accelerometer, Proximity
  • Build: Plastic
  • Colours: Black. Red. Blue. White

Hardware

  • Processor Type: Quad-Core 1.3 GHz
  • Processor Name: Mediatek MT6582M
  • Graphics Processor: ARM Mali-400MP2
  • RAM: 1 GB
  • Internal Storage: 8 GB
  • External Storage: MicroSD card up to 64 GB

Camera

  • Rear: 13.0 megapixel, autofocus, LED flash
  • Video recording: 720p
  • Front-facing: 5 megapixel

Multimedia

  • Music Support: mp3, aac, aac+, eaac+, amr
  • Audio:
  • Loudspeaker: Mono
  • Video Support: mpeg4, h.263, h.264
  • FM Radio:

Connectivity

  • Bluetooth: v4.0
  • WiFi: Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n, Wi-Fi Direct, hotspot
  • GPS: Yes
  • USB: microUSB v2.0

Miscellaneous

  • Battery: 2020 mAh
  • Announcement: June 2014
  • Availability: August 2014
  • Launch Price: N19,950
Ntel live more

We have details of Ntel’s tariff plans for you. There are currently three of them and all three come with unlimited data. Have a look:

  • Starter Plan: N1,000 / 2 days validity / Unlimited data / 30 minutes voice calls / SMS
  • Standard Plan: N2,400 / 7 days validity / Unlimited Data / 70 minutes calls / SMS
  • Monthly Plan: N9,000 / 30 days validity / Unlimited data / 300 minutes calls / SMS

While the data is unlimited, the speed gets throttled. Ntel promises up to 230 Mbps theoretically, but their Fair Usage Policy includes the following clauses:
Ntel 4G tariff plans

  • At peak periods each day, any customer who has used a total volume of 3GB will be slowed down to 512bps.
  • Customers are only entitled to use our services for personal, non-commercial use. We reserve the right to impose network protection controls, limit the speed of, suspend or block your access to services, or disconnect you if your use is excessive and/or not in keeping with that reasonably expected of a private individual.

Ntel also listed a number of smartphones that they have certified are compatible with their network. The list includes:

  1. TECNO Camon C5
  2. Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge
  3. TECNO Boom J8
  4. Infinix Zero (likely the Zero 3)
  5. Infinix Note (likely the Note 2 2GB RAM variant)

Ntel needs to get a better grasp of smartphone names and models. Anyway, what is your take on the above?

Ntel launches 4G network - in ghost mode

Today, Ntel announced that they have launched commercial operations in clusters in Lagos and Abuja. The catch is that nobody has any information on where to pick a SIM card. There is no such information in the press releases. Even the Ntel website is of no help.

Ntel launches 4G network - ghost

If you can get your hands on a SIM though, Ntel’s press release says they are offering free on-net calls for life for the first 100,000 subscribers to activate their lines, as well as “unlimited data usage for 3 months on select bundles”.

Ntel is promising fast broadband speeds if up to 230 Mbps. That sounds juicy. We wait still.

super-fast broadband

While waiting for Ntel SIM cards to get into our hands, I stumbled upon a speedtest result of their 4G/LTE internet by an early tester, it seems. NTel claims to offer the most advanced 4G mobile network in Africa. The jury is out on that, but the speedtest results sure are impressive. Have a look:


Not half bad. The results are certainly better – much better – than I have seen on any other 4G/LTE provider in Nigeria till date.

ntel 4g speedtest

Of course, we can expect that real life speeds, once the service goes commercial and gets packed full of subscribers, will drop significantly. In the meantime, we wait for those SIM cards…

voice calls on Smile 4G

You asked and so we got in touch with Smile Communications to ask for a list of VoLTE smartphones that have been tested in-house by them and found compatible with their SmileVoice service. They sent us a list. It is a short one. We will keep updating it as we confirm more devices.

  1. Lumia 640
  2. Lumia 640XL
  3. Samsung Galaxy S6 edge
  4. Samsung J5
  5. Samsung J7

The above phones are LTE phones enabled for VoLTE and do not need the SmileVoice app to make and receive calls over the LTE network. Psst: Has anyone here tried out VoLTE calls on the TECNO Phantom 5?

If you need to use SmileVoice on a non-VoLTE compatible phone, just get an Android or iOS smartphone, install and use the SmileVoice app, and you are good to go.

Recently, I was asked to compile and publish a list of phones that are compatible with smile 4G network. As you may already know, this 4G LTE business is already complicated as it is. There are dozens of frequencies and details to make the average user’s head explode. The summary of it is that smartphone compatibility is a big issue. But when you think you have it all figured out, some other information pops up.

4G smartphones

In the past, we have had the case of a smartphone that supported Smile’s band 20 (800 MHz), but when we put a Smile SIM in it, it failed to register to the network. That was the Lenovo A6000. Now we have another smartphone in the house that supports Smile’s 4G band but won’t register either: the Lumia 950.

So, we reached out to Microsoft about this and they sent in this explanation:

The 4G network has to have voice as well. So the radio checks for the voice first and then if seen, latches unto the 4G network.

As SMILE has no voice, it will not latch.

So, it is not enough that your 4G SIM card and a smartphone support the same LTE band. From Microsoft’s response, it appears that some smartphones are designed to look for voice first, and since Smile has no voice…bummer.

As you know, Smile 4G is not a mobile network operator. It is a broadband service provider. The recently launched SmileVoice is not a traditional network voice service, so it doesn’t count. This will present a unique situation for many Smile subscribers who will want to use their SIMs in one LTE smartphone or the other. What to do? If possible, take your smartphone to a Smile centre for a compatibility test.

In the meantime, we are compiling as much info as possible towards helping you pick smartphones that are compatible with Smile’s 4G network. The very first that we confirmed in-house here at Mobility Arena is the TECNO Phantom 5. Expect a list from us soon.

Sparta

In interesting news, Etisalat Nigeria has dragged MTN to court over the latter’s acquisition of Visafone. Etisalat is challenging the transaction on the basis that MTN had been declared a dominant operator and the acquisition of Visafone would give it an unfair edge in the broadband market. Etisalat is also asking the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) for the basis of of its decision to approve the acquisition.

Sparta

You will recall that we published a piece that spells out the implications of MTN Nigeria’s acquisition of Visafone. MTN clearly plans to use Visafone’s LTE-compliant spectrum to deploy broadband services ahead of other mobile operators.