Dayo and I were at a Zain centre on Monday to make some enquiries on behalf of one of Alireta’s board members who was considering getting a USB modem for her internet usage.
After getting the information we needed, I took the liberty to ask about Zain’s data services in general. I was informed of the data-only SIMs, and told that I needed a USB modem to use one. I tabled my Nokia E90 communicator and explained that both Glo and MTN data SIMs work on it and that I had no doubt that Zain’s data SIM would work fine on it as well.
They were sure the SIMs wouldn’t. I was told that the SIMs were programmed to work with the USB modems only. Not sure whether to laugh or cry, I prodded on. Eventually, the lady attending to me said that even if it worked, I would only be able to use WAP (wireless application protocol).
That was bewildering. To suggest that if I put an internet-enabled SIM in a fully working communicator would limit me to only WAP is just crazy – not to mention el dumbo.
Anyway, I asked if I could pick a data SIM and got an affirmative. I was directed to pay N200 to that effect. I was already at the cashier’s counter when I was called back. It seemed that someone decided (or remembered) that it was wrong to let clients pick data SIMs only. The lady told me I could only pick a data SIM along with a USB modem purchase. “But I don’t need a USB modem; I want to use the SIM on my E90“, I protested. No way.
Dayo and I were out of there in a few moments wondering which dullards make decisions in our telecommunications firms. I asked Dayo why we keep hoping that these firms will get it right someday.
Well, MTN did finally get it right and GloMobile is largely on track as well; so maybe our hope is not futile after all. Perhaps in another 12 months, Zain will understand that to ignore the convergence factor in the mobile universe is just plain stupid.
Of the “Big 3” GSM networks, Zain has always been the slowest to catch on to anything mobile data anyway. We’ll wait to see them eat humble pie and reverse this policy.
NB: Or, was it just the customer service ladies at that centre who were being ignorant?