Months ago, Zain announced that its 3G service was live, and some of us were quite expectant. However, the days, weeks, and months have flown

Where is Zain’s 3G Network?

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Months ago, Zain announced that its 3G service was live, and some of us were quite expectant.

However, the days, weeks, and months have flown by and Zain 3G is yet to be experienced by the majority of her subscribers who live and work in the very areas that Zain claims 3G coverage.

From Victoria Island to Yaba to Ogba, subscribers keep staring at their phone displays in the hope of seeing the 3G notification icon pop up, but all to no avail.

Dayo and I drove all the way to VI and back yesterday, and not once did we get a Zain 3G signal.

Not once have I seen the 3G icon on any of the 3G phones that I have installed a Zain SIM on. As a matter of fact, even EDGE coverage on the Zain network is scanty – not as bad as 3G, but certainly not available widespread either. At the eendd of the day, the average subscriber in Lagos is left with nothing but GPRS.

Exactly where does Zain have active 3G coverage? Have you used Zain 3G or do you know someone who has?


  1. EDGE is viewed in some quarters as a type of 3G network. I think Zain meant EDGE but were only playing smart when they announced that they had 3G

  2. Mayowa, to the best of my knowledge, it is an automatic feature once you have been provisioned for GPRS, and there’s no special activation needed for 3G on the Zain network.

  3. Metamba,

    EDGE is a GSM technology, and runs on the same platform as GPRS and so requires no separate licence or parallel network. Note also that many non-3G phones are EDGE-enabled.

    EDGE is 2.75G, an enhancement of GPRS (2.5G). EDGE is also called EGPRS – Enhanced General Packet Radio Service) in technical quarters). 3G is a totally different ball game entirely.

    Note that Zain paid for a 3G licence like the others. Note also that Zain had EDGE running at certain locations before they snapped up a 3G licence.

    Zain certainly meant 3G (UMTS/WCDMA) when they made their announcement. But it seems to be a ghost service, as only very few people seem to have run into it.


  4. I went visiting the Zain Nigeria website again today. The site provides the number 113 to dial for data services. When dialled, a programmed voice told me, “Sorry, you are not allowed to dial this number”.

    Then I found a 3G coverage map, which on closer scrutiny showed that Zain’s 3G service is available only in small clusters. For example, at Victoria Island alone, there are 9 small clusters, with “blind zones” all around and in-between them. This confirms why I could drive round VI and not get a signal – I was driving through the blind zones.

    Looking through the map of Lagos showed gaping blind zones. But careful examination shows that 3G coverage is not live in reality in some of the areas that the map says there is 3G. Same goes for EDGE.

    The Zain map is in contrast to what obtains with MTN and Glo, where 3G coverage in Lagos is almost seamless.

    You can download the Zain 3G map here (PDF file).

  5. A small 3G story.

    I took out my glo sim card from my SE P1 and sent an assistant with it to Zain shop at Sanusi Fafunwa. The instruction was to buy a sim card, get the phone configured and the line provisioned for Zain internet access.

    He came back hours after saying the guys at Zain said my phone is faulty because it does not recognise the new sim. Surprised, I took my phone and looked at it, the top part of the screen was showing “Emergency calls only”. It then dawned on me that I left the phone to receive 3G network signals only while the glo sim card was inside.

    So I changed the option to GSM network on the phone and bingo, Zain NG appeared on the screen.

    My point: Even the Zain Shop in V.I does not have 3G coverage (a blind zone).

    Oh! I didn’t bother to send my phone back for configuration.

  6. Brym,

    That is simply amazing. To think that yourself and several others I know have MTN & Glo SIMs in phones set to ‘3G-only’ mode, and are connected almost anywhere in Lagos.

    Zain’s 3G coverage is more of a game of chance with the odds stacked high against subscribers finding the ever elusive signal.

  7. Just saw a series of Zain advertisements on TV promoting video calls, mobile internet, downloads, picture messages, etc via “Z3”.

    Z3 is the brand name of Zain 3G services. Ahem! Z3 Video calls, anyone?

    I watched the ad again and again, and kept asking myself, Which Z3?

  8. which one is the best internet mobile in nigeria bcoz i want to get one and also the money is not much. thank

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