The Dilemma Of Changing ISPs

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If you have lived in this country for any significant period of time, you must have experienced what I call “ISP blues”. Basically, that means you must have been disappointed by epileptic internet services at some point in time or the other. In all likelihood, you must have toyed with the idea of changing service providers too.

One of the dilemma of changing ISPs here is that you are not so sure if the new guys you are considering cover your present location, and if service there is reliable.

When I first wrote my article, Mobile Data: Bridging The Internet Divide In Africa, back in 2005 (also re-published here on Mobility in 2008), one of the factors that I considered in making some of the forecasts that I did is the flexibility attached to GSM-based mobile services.

Permit me to explain how that plays out in this scenario.

You want to subscribe to a new service that is CDMA-based. There is no way to determine availability and/or reliability in your area. For the most part, the ISP themselves do not have accurate information on this either.

If you do not have a neighbour who uses that service in the same vicinity, you are effectively at the mercy of fate.

If you were considering a GSM-based service, however, you could simply purchase a SIM for N150, register it, put it in any internet-enabled phone lying around, load just N1,000 and activate a 100MB data plan and use that to test the service.

If you are not satisfied, simply repeat the process with another service provider. If/when satisfied, you can then splurge out more cash on a modem or mifi device for PC use. Of course, if your phone has a built-in modem or Wi-Fi hotspot, you can retain the SIM in your phone.

This sort of flexibility, alongside other factors, make GSM-based internet connectivity very appealing for a wide range of users.


  1. This sort of flexibility, alongside other factors, make GSM-based internet connectivity very appealing for a wide range of users.

    Yes, GSM-based Internet is very flexible indeed. It requires very small financial investment by the consumer to hop in to any SIP and try out their services and make a decision.

    I started with MTN pay-as-you-browse in the early days but jumped to Airtel (then Vmobile) when they introduced their 100MB bundle plan, later moved back to MTN when they also introduced their own bundle plan, from MTN to GLO and now enjoying Etisalat EasyBlaze. The flexibility is simply wonderful and so rewarding.

    This is one huge advantage of buying our handsets rather than having them subsidized by our network operators and locking them to their networks in the process.

  2. Flexibility is the game changer. I wish all gsm network will adopt the Etisalat style where you can roll over all unused data when you subscribe for a data bundle at expiration of your current plan.MTN will not buy that for sure. As for CDMA networks do they really exist outside Lagos Abuja and state capitals? Quality of Service is also so important

  3. Mr Mobility, I expected your write up to dwell on the various ISPs we have like DOPC, Swift, Visafone, Starcomms, Cobranet, etc. I have lost count of the number of ISPs I have used from the days of Nitel. In all honesty, I have used not less than 8 of them within 4 years.

    The truth is that the internet service provision in Nigeria leaves much to be desired. Imagine us struggling with 2Mbps when in the UK, there is the talk of 100Mbps been toyed with i.e. if it is not already in place. I just wonder what the browsing experience is like in South Korea that is touted as having the best internet service in the world.

  4. Ayodele,

    Thanks. Covering all those ISPs individually would have been arduos. But in the context of this article, they face the same challenges as the CDMA providers – the lack of a low-cost means of testing for availability and reliability.


  5. Very right, its much easier to change on GSM.

    Providers need to find better ways to test there services in all areas.

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