Emma Okonji writes on the connectivity challenges faced by internet users across platforms and the efforts being made to fix the issues through data revolution

The recent shift from voice to data communication, occasioned by technology evolution, has changed the telecommunications landscape, where majority of the subscribers do more of data than voice communication.

Although the move from voice to data is a global phenomenon, increasingly, subscribers in Nigeria are having difficulties in accessing the internet, due to poor internet connectivity, caused by poor infrastructure.

In spite of the connectivity challenges, Nigeria no doubt, recorded a remarkable shift from the era when people used to queue at cybercafes to surf the internet, receive or send mails.

Thanks to the introduction of Global System for Mobile (GSM) telecommunications in 2001, as Nigerians now enjoy affordable and faster internet connectivity provided by Mobile Network Operators (MNOs) and other service providers.

Data usage

Measured against what obtains in many other countries, Nigeria is still lagging in terms of data utilisation, adjudged by the percentage of its population with internet access.

This is largely due to poor internet connectivity that persists in the country, which in turn is attributable to inadequate infrastructure.It is also due to discouraging operating environment and unfavourable policies for telecommunication companies such as multiple taxation, right of way requirements, and access to capital. Another contributory factor is low penetration of smartphones.

However, a reality today is that customers sometimes face difficulty in connecting online or spend endless hours online without accomplishing tasks they set out to achieve because of network buffering. Those that require high-speed data connections for browsing and streaming, subscribe to two or more networks or acquire multiple modems/SIMs to get reliable internet connectivity.

The issues

Due to the poor internet connectivity, customers have lodged several complaints, while calling for a lasting solution to the issues.
Bulk of the complaints are centred around intermittent disconnection from the internet, especially at a time when they needed the service the most, a situation that is said to have grounded the businesses of many who relied on the internet.

Some of the customers, who spoke to THISDAY, said they paid so much for monthly subscription, yet they do not get the full value of their monthly subscription. Some said they had to leave their former Internet Service Provider (ISP) because of poor internet service that they were getting only to experience the same poor internet connectivity service with the new ISP.

According to them, they get frustrated the more when at the end of the month, the ISP would cut them off completely from the internet if there was little delay in renewing the monthly subscription, without considering compensation for the downtime suffered by their customers.

The customers have called on the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCS), the industry regulator, to compel ISPs and MNOs to compensate for any downtime suffered and to ensure that they deliver unhindered internet access , especially those that are using it for business.
Customers have accused most of the ISPs and MNOs in the country of offering epileptic internet service, especially at peak periods when demand for the service is high.

MNO’s intervention

But in living up to their ratings as an enablers of advancement for individuals and businesses, MNOs who were already licensed by the NCC to provide internet services such as data services along side voice offerings, are making efforts to address the situation through data revolution.

One of the leading telecommunications company in innovation, 9mobile, has been at the forefront of promoting socio-economic development in Nigeria by increasing access to dependable data offerings for different consumer segments. These include: Cliqlite, an educational platform for students that helps them excel in their academic pursuits, and SME Arena, the dedicated platform that helps small and growing businesses to become profitable ventures.

As a result of the quality data services, the telco has become renowned for the internet experience it offers in the country.
Accusations of ‘snail speed’, ‘crappy’ and ‘disappointing’ internet connectivity levelled against some other operators are low in 9mobile because of the relatively better browsing services it provides. For example, its 4G LTE service is offered seamlessly to Nigerians that have eligible 4G LTE devices within LTE coverage areas at no extra cost, while customers do not need to swap their SIMs before they enjoy the company’s 4G LTE service.

The commitment

In continuation of its commitment to giving its customers quality data services, and in the consolidation of its leadership of the data segment, the company recently reloaded its all-encompassing data package, Moreblaze, which enables subscribers to enjoy a much richer and much faster online browsing and streaming experience 24-7.

Available as data plans, smartphone offers, and time-based plans, Moreblaze offers tremendous benefits for individuals and businesses that rely on data to do more. It also gives customers true value for their money through consistent and reliable internet experience. Industry watchers were not too surprised when the TVCs for the reloaded Moreblaze, showcasing its practical functional benefits, won three top awards at the recently held African Cristal Awards in Marrakesh, Morocco.

The company’s other Moreblaze offerings including video streaming plans to complement regular data plans, and smartpaks that enable subscribers to share content with their friends on social media sites and apps at cheaper rates, are no less popular.

Aside from enabling individuals and businesses to do more, the telco is equally a key stakeholder in the NCC’s quest to increase broadband internet penetration in the country from the 21 per cent it was in 2017 to 30 per cent by the end of this year.

Affirming the telco’s commitment to making internet services accessible and affordable to all Nigerians, Vice President, Marketing at 9mobile, Adebisi Idowu, said: “At 9mobile, our overarching goal is to out serve our customers with innovative offerings; because they deserve the very best. That is why we always ensure that the services we offer enrich customer experience at every touch point.”
“With 9mobile’s data, customers are assured of getting the best online browsing experience, and outlive crappy internet connectivity,” Idowu added.