Who will launch Nigeria’s first 4G LTE network?

LTE-symbol

The abbreviation LTE stands for Long Term Evolution. It is a 4G mobile internet standard based on GSM/EDGE and UMTS/HSPA network technologies, and delivers theoretical maximum speeds of up to 300 Mbit/s for downloads, and 75 Mbit/s for uploads. LTE can be deployed via mobile devices, as well as data dongles. LTE services have been available to the public since 2009, and has gained faster adoption in recent times.

The first LTE network in Africa was launched by Smile Telecom in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. The second to be launched was by Namibia’s MTC (Mobile Telecommunications Company) in the capital city, Windhoek. In January 2011, GloMobile Nigeria made a lot of noise in the media about the launch of a 4G/LTE network that has turned out to be a ghost. Till date, a year and half later, there is no operational 4G/LTE mobile network in Nigeria.

The question is: Who will launch the first 4G LTE mobile network in Nigeria?

Why Mobile Broadband?
Do we need this technology? By all means, I believe so. We need true broadband, and LTE delivers true broadband speeds. Mobile broadband will empower students, teachers, doctors, and people across a wider range of professions and vocations to bridge further and more effectively the digital divide. LTE broadband will push the boundaries of e-commerce, creating a demand for new vistas of trade. Imagine what LTE broadband will do to e-learning. As an example, students can connect in real-time to watch lecture classes in universities in another continent, download study materials, and participate in online examinations with greater ease. The possibilities are limitless.

End Terminals
More and more LTE-enabled smartphones and tablets are being introduced into the market. LTE USB data dongles are already also available. What we need now are concerted efforts to deliver true broadband mobile internet to consumers across cities and towns around the country. The back-end capacity to deliver broadband via LTE is available, with a handful of submarine cables already active and under-subscribed. I don’t know about you, but I know that I could use much faster speeds than I am currently getting at the moment.

The question again is: who will bell the cat?

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21 comments

  1. Yeah sure you could use faster speed than you are currently getting even on the 3rd generation of mobile telecommunications technology because NONE of the GSM or CDMA companies here in Nigeria off real 3G speed in terms of download/upload, just crappy services. Am not even looking forward to any of the companies launching 4G or LTE technology.I think they should still invest more in the development of the 3rd generation of mobile telecommunications technology services they offer. 3G speed is much much more faster than the stupid speed we consumers are been fed with here in Nigeria.

    1. Dairo and Olusheenor have said it all. Times without number have I opined that there is no telcom provider of true 4G services in Nigeria like swift networks and others like to dish out to us. The so called 3G/3.5G/3.75G services haven’t been fully deployed in Nigeria so why rush into 4G.

      And just like Harry said, Glo has always wanted to be the first at this and that only to go silent after so much jamboree at Eko Hotels. Honestly, I have lost count of the number of ISPs I have used right from the days of NITEL dial-up. Right now, I use Spectranet not because it offers the best or anything spectacular, but I’m sorely tired of hoping around like a blue-arsed fly.

      Price to me still remains a sore point in internet delivery in Nigeria. I mean, how can Swift possibly be dishing out a meagre 7G of data for N10,000. That to me is daylight robbery. The GSM networks are themselves not even serious as far as I’m concerned. I haven’t even bothered giving them a try as their pricing is so ridiculous.

      On the 4G LTE subject, my take is that our telcom providers should just restrict themselves to the issue of fully developing and deploying the levels of technology on ground for now rather to rushing into 4G.

  2. I think Etisalat and MTN could handle it better than the lip service Glo is always paying y to these things. Rushing to press with announcement of services that are not witnessed by the consumers. And again, their services were to erratic when I tried it last. Though it was really fast when it was working, the problem was that it was more likely not to be working than working.

    Where Etisalat is concerned, I think the only way I can fault them is in how wide spread their services are throughout the nation because, the download speed I’ve observed on their network is very close to that advertised for my device. A peak HSDPA that is just above 90% and a sustained average HSDPA that is above 70% of my device capacity when downloading relatively large files with a download manager is good enough for me to consider as true 3G network when I also consider that it is relatively very regular.

  3. Let the telecomms operators in Nigeria get the 3G right first before jumping on the 4G LTE wagon. Even in the US, not all network carriers have launched LTE, eg, T-Mobile. In the UK and other parts of Europe, they are just about to smell the coffee of 4G LTE this year. The launch of iPhone 5 LTE seems to be inciting the coming of LTE to Europe, as EE (formerly Everything Everywhere) is taking the lead in launching 4G LTE in UK just weeks before iPhone 5 launch. So, if the advanced countries are just smelling true 4G, it will take a third world country like Nigeria some time before we have it.

  4. Speaking of crawling before walking or is it running, we need to fix edge first (mtn edge speed at my end clocks at 12kbps, etisalat does 30kbps, yeah no mtn 3G here in yenagoa).
    As for LTE am not psyched about it until all devices come with a 3300mAh battery or bigger or until more speed doesnt also mean more battery drain.

  5. Well as to the question that was asked, I think Spectranet might be the first to launch LTE in Lagos. I spoke to someone that works there and he says they are moving all the Wimax equipment they have in Lagos to Abuja. They will then replace the Wimax equipment with LTE equipment on the same frequency.

    Capcom would be the second option for being first to launch LTE.Capcom says they would like to lauch commercial service in November, but from what I hear they have not started to upgrade/install.

    I read somewhere that a company in Abuja was advertising LTE as “coming soon”, but I dont know the company and can’t confirm if soon has come.

    I think it’s either the ISPs are looking to maximize their profit on the lowered price of international bandwidth, or the introduction of all these undersea cables have not reduced the price as much as some think.
    I say this because I was one of the people that helped Swift test their Wimax network, and during that period, the average speed was about 6-8Mbits/s. I was actually seeing 1MBytes/s while downloading. This means wimax is very capable, the only thing missing is the backhaul.

  6. A properly deployed and optimized 3G is better than an erratic 4G. I live where EDGE is 3G and it is still erratic. A consistent 3G can still handle most of what Mr Mo listed.

  7. I certainly want faster speed and will love to experience real 4G soon.
    I have the feeling that MTN will be the first to give us 4G*

  8. Real 3G, even HSDPA can handle most of what we are expecting from LTE but it all comes down to infrastructure – or the lack of it. As it is, we’re just not used to having a decent, consistent 3G service so keep wishing on hoping on the “next big thing” will be the great enabler.

    If anything, history teaches us the next big thing will deliver for a brief period, until there are more subscribers than the service can handle. Customer service and quality of service will start sliding; then we’ll be looking to another “next big thing” as some kind of answer.

    I don’t think it’s about the networks or ISPs not being capable of providing the service, but as long as they can get away with calling EDGE 3G, don’t expect a real LTE service in a hurry.

    1. From Noni:

      Real 3G, even HSDPA can handle most of what we are expecting from LTE

      That statement is untrue. Here are the figures:

      UMTS/3G theoretical maximum speeds: 384 kbit/s downlink
      HSDPA/3.5G theoretical maximum speeds: 42 Mbit/s downlink
      HSPA+/3.75G theoretical maximum speeds: 168 Mbit/s downlink
      LTE/4G theoretical maximum speeds: 300 Mbit/s downlink

      There is no way that 3G or HSDPA (even running at full throttle) can handle most of what we are expecting from LTE.

  9. If I may point something out, it sounds all fine and dandy asking for network operators to fix issues with existing 3G networks before dabbling into 4G. As far as I can see from history, what we are asking for is to be left in the dark ages.

    Perhaps we should also ask government to fix our laterite roads before embarking on tarred roads (seeing that they have issues maintaining those).

    All over the world, no mobile network delivers theoretical maximum speeds. None. As a rule, typical speeds are below half of the theoretical maximum.

    I root for 4G, and I say let’s do it now..

  10. Yeah, Mr. Mo, I’m with you. If the problem we are always having is that of infrastructure and overcrowding, then LTE has the promise of making better use of bandwidth and catering for more people within a given space than the previous technologies.

    Of course, the will not suddenly eliminate network issues but it will generally enhance the experience. No matter the technology, there will always be resources management problems, even in the western world.

  11. Yeah, Mr. Mo, I’m with you. If the problem we are always having is that of infrastructure and overcrowding, then LTE has the promise of making better use of bandwidth and catering for more people within a given space than the previous technologies.

    Of course, that will not suddenly eliminate network issues but it will generally enhance the experience. No matter the technology, there will always be resources management problems, even in the western world.

  12. Mister Mo, I am not disputing the speed of LTE, I am fully aware of its capabilities. My point, simply put, is that if we had consistent 3G or HSPDA we wouldn’t be looking for the next big thing as if it’s some kind of saviour.

    And the operative word in your response is “expecting”. We still haven’t had consistent 3G or HSDPA in Nigeria. There’s no guarantee that 4G will take us out of the “dark ages” as you put it, if history is anything to go by.

    1. Noni,

      If history is anything to go by, I am glad that the networks introduced 3G and then 3.5G without waiting to perfect GPRS/EDGE, or else I’d still be managing theoretical maximum speeds of 234kbps for both browsing and downloads. I am glad that I get an average of 500kbps (even if inconsistent) for regular browsing and over 1 mbps for downloads on 3.5G service today 😉

  13. Mister Mo, you is one of the lucky ones. Like Abimbola Sojimi EDGE is the best we can get, very rarely 3G. By the time the likes of you are enjoying LTE, we will be struggling to get 3G!

  14. There is no LTE in Nigeria, the fact is there’s no LTE in all the states in U.S.A some states and some carriers just launched LTE in United States, if some States in .U.S.A don’t have LTE talk-less of Nigeria. LTE JUST GOT LAUNCHED BY SOME CARRIERS LIKE EE which is a merger of orange and t-mobile in uk.

    I only wish that one day maybe glo or etisalat would launch LTE in Nigeria. imagine downloading a movie of 1 gig in 20 seconds thats really amazing.

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