Who will offer 4G LTE mobile broadband in Nigeria?

LTE – Long Term Evolution – is considered by many to be the obvious successor to the current generation of UMTS 3G technology and delivers a theoretical maximum download speed of 37.5 mbps. Compare that to the 21 mbps theoretical top speed that current HSPA+ (3.75G) networks offer and you have an idea of the improvements in speed that LTE delivers.

4G LTE network

Here is a quick run-down of the operators who have been granted LTE licenses in Nigeria.

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Airtel

Airtel has been around since thee dawn of GSM mobile services in Nigeria and currently provides mobile internet spanning GPRS, EDGE, 3G, 3.5G and 3.75G technologies.

Etisalat

Etisalat is the youngest of the existing four GSM based operators, but are no pushovers in the mobile internet field. They also currently provide mobile internet spanning GPRS, EDGE, 3G, 3.5G and 3.75G technologies.

Glo

The only indigenous GSM-based operator, Glo catalysed the switch to packet data with the introduction of GPRS in Nigeria, and they currently also offer internet spanning GPRS, EDGE, 3G, and 3.5G technologies. In what turned to be pure marketing bullshit, Glo claimed to launch a 4G/LTE network back in January 2011.

MTN Nigeria

MTN Nigeria kicked off the GSM race in Nigeria alongside Airtel (then ECONET). The network currently provides mobile internet spanning GPRS, EDGE, 3G, and 3.5G technologies.

Smile Communications

Smile Communications is a new entrant in the Nigerian mobile broadband space. Smile currently runs LTE networks in South Africa, Congo, Uganda and Tanzania, and have obtained a license to offer LTE here in Nigeria.

Starcomms

Starcomms is an old player around here. Originally licensed to operate CDMA services, a current restructuring has seen teh Starcomms brand swallow up the assets of MTS First Wireless and Multilinks, and dumping its CDMA heritage entirely to focus on 4G LTE broadband.

As it stands, subscribers will be spoilt for choice when it comes to LTE mobile broadband. Now that you have all the details, you can only wait to see how it will all play out. The question on everyone’s lips is, When is the first 4G LTE network in Nigeria launching? No; not the sort of ghost “launch” that Globacom pulled in 2011.

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19 comments

  1. Mr.Mo do you know something we don’t ?

    If i were to guess using this post i would say smile or starcomms, why? because smile is new, hungry and wants to make a big splash. For starcomms they want to be the dominant LTE provider.

    There are many other credible factors that can determine who will be the first such as infrastructure, cash, and available expertise.

  2. I think *Smile are the guys to watch in the 4G LTE space in Nigeria, given that they already have a workable blueprint in some African markets. And they are thirty for the Nigerian stronghold. Starcomms are saddled with administration problem, they won’t have a chance here either.

    The other big players have eaten deep already, they’ll always be sluggish to deploy any meaningful service ahead.

    Oh, Etisalat too, maybe they can do something! We’re definitely gonna keep watching their back. 🙂

  3. If Airtel and MTN could just come out with a plan that offers 1GB for 1000 or even 3GB then all the LTE drive would make sense. As for Etisalat am not too hopefully, it rained last night in satellite town and Etisalat Internet (gprs/hspa) went awol. As for smile if they can come up with a SIM/a good network coverage + good data for price then am game

  4. I’m currently hitting 7kb/s on 3G (or is it 3.5G on Airtel). So I’m definitely not counting on the GSM telecommunications network to dazzle me with 37mb/s.

    I dreamt of torching one of Starcomm’s building last time I signed up with their network.

    All I’m asking for is 5mb/s on my mobile phone. Mr Mo is that too much to ask? *sobs quietly in a corner*

  5. I wonder what percentage of smartphones in use in Nigeria support LTE, to start with.

    what would then be the incentive of the networks to put energy and true commitment into deploying LTE?

    All these nomenclature is pure turenchi.

    Like with our PHCN, all we want is power, not assailing our eardrums with nebulous megawatts.

    With data, all we want to see is speedier and more stable services.

    chikenah!

  6. ‘In what turned to be pure marketing bullshit, Glo claimed to launch a 4G/LTE network back in January 2011’

    Nicely put Mr Mo. I feel so ashamed the the Guru’s baby could pull such nonsense.

    As for me 3G or 4G, all Ayodele wants is a reliable internet service such that when I hit enter to download, I don’t have to keep staring at my handset. I feel so ashamed for Nigeria whenever I remember South Korea is touted as the country with the best internet service globally.

  7. I don’t think 4G LTE is what our networks should be concentrating on right now. If they can deliver real 3.5/3.75G services to us, we will be more than happy. I have never been able to hit higher than 1mbps on any of the existing networks even though my phone is capable of 21mbps. I believe that if our mobile networks can deliver half the theoretical max speeds of 3.5G broadband, we’ll all be in data heaven.

  8. we have our first lte network which has launched mr mo there is no need for this topic instead write another topic on smile 4g lte network the first in nigeria thank you it is currently in ibadan

  9. Well, we have been on Smile network for the past one month in my office in Ibadan. The servive is good but this is not what I think of LTE. This is just like a good 3g service. Well that may be a definition for LTE.

  10. Truth is, even if all the network launched LTE today, quality of service will still be a huge albatross in the industry. It’ll still be extremely slow compared to the max download speed. Why not figure out a way to provide quality service with the current data system. That’ll be most appreciated Mr Mo so cc your friends in the industry 😀

  11. Now you can browse without stress in Ibadan. Smile 4G LTE can stream up to 3 videos without buffering. I personally tried it. Now, that’s speed!

  12. I was in Amsterdam in late 2007 – It was 3G. Yet I cld stream up to 10 videos at a time without any buffering on the same laptop. I live in South Africa now, and I can do 5movies without buffering on CellC 3G mobile internet service, with just 3 bars service coverage.
    LTE is not beans…it would cost several $$$billions to overhaul an existing network 100% and for what revenue? So I doubt if this is a primary focus for the Mobile Networks, for now.
    Any existing network launching LTE in Nigeria TODAY, would be like an irresponsible mother hen, walking away from her eggs, each time she lays them – even before they hatch. All they’d have done is leaving behind hordes of dissatisfied and disillusioned customers.
    They never got 3G right, what makes you think they’ll get LTE at all??
    I respect Smile – But then, lets see what Starcomms would come out with.

  13. Yes smile does. I use their router. Clicking on a recently (Less than 2 weeks) placed compatible devices banner on their site takes you to this GSMARENA page. Might actually give it a go. Only wished I’d seen the banner before getting my Note 8.0 six weeks ago.

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