This post was most recently updated on June 10th, 2019
It gladdens my heart that we now have a healthy competition amongst the four Major GSM/Internet service providers in Nigeria. As of today, we have at least 10 internet service providers of which four out of them are the most popular mobile network/isp companies. In today’s post, I will be doing a Comparative Analysis of Nigeria’s Internet data plans. My case study shall be the four major mobile networks namely: MTN, GLO, 9Mobile and Airtel.
Little deliberation and consideration come into play when you are choosing a cellular network provider mainly for SMS and calls. The reverse is, however, the case if your interest is basically in internet data plans. You need to be very careful and meticulous while choosing an internet service provider. I for one, I am currently paying through my nose at for internet at where I currently am simply because I put performance over price.
Previously, I used to be a die hard fanboy of MTN data plans because of their consistency, reliability and modest bandwidth/data meter. The story has changed now as you will soon find out. I will be rating these networks along the following parameters: Coverage, Price, reliability, stability, speed, data allocation, easy of use, fair usage, bandwidth meter
Comparative Analysis of Nigeria’s Internet service providers: Compare MTN, GLO, Airtel and 9Mobile.
My rating parameters shall be taking both the 4G and 3G strength into account. Like I said, my research scope is limited to MTN, GLO 9Mobile and Airtel. In addition, my analysis will also focus on their cheapest individual monthly data plans which of course is the standard subscription in most cases. Furthermore, I will be excluding their postpaid data plans from this analysis since the majority of their subscribers are on their prepaid plans. The following rating criteria would apply in this article:
- Coverage of the network
- 4G Network band compatibility
- Billing/Bandwith meter
- Data cap/allocation
List of all shortcodes(USSD) to buy Data from MTN, GLO, Airtel or 9Mobile
It may interest you to know how you can quickly buy a data bundle/plan from MTN, GLO, Airtel or 9Mobile. The codes below would help you get started quickly:
- For MTN dial *131# for their special promo e.g deal zone, dial *131*1#
- Also, you can view the full list of Globacom data packages by either dialling *777# or by visiting hsi.glo.com
- For Airtel Nigeria, dial *141# to view the data plans options. You can, however, try your luck with their special code *140#
- Finally, the shortcode to buy data from 9Mobile is *200# then follow the prompt.
Comparative Analysis of Nigeria’s Internet data plans from the Prices Point of View
When it comes to the prices, all four networks offer virtually the same base price. with little differences in their time-based subscriptions. However, when you research further into how much of a data each network provider offers at a given price, the story changes. As at the time of writing this report, Glo mobile offers more data at any price among the four companies.
The four companies all have a base monthly fee of N1,000 @ xxxgb valid for 30 days with full rollover and auto-renew function. The image below shows the price list and corresponding data cap for MTN, GLO, Airtel and 9Mobile.
Practically, they all share uniform base subscription fees with little variations here and there. They all have very small money data plans and huge money data plans.
Rating the four networks in line with their price regimes(A scale of 100)
- Glo Mobile score a 100/100. The reason is that it offers the best Data/price cost effectiveness
- Coming very closely is Airtel Nigeria with a 99/100 score.
- Next is MTN Nigeria= 95/100
- Lastly, Etisalat/9mobile has a not too impressive score of 85/100. When all other things are equal, I mean when your only consideration is the cost of the subscription, Then go for any GLO mobile subscription. OUR WINNER IS GLO MOBILE NIGERIA
Coverage: Where is their 4G/LTE and 3G available
When we put our Comparative Analysis of Nigeria’s Internet data networks into perspective, it won’t be out of place if we say 3G network is not the industry network speed in Nigeria. I mean we are in an era where other countries of the world are already switching to 5G. The four Nigerian Mobile Internet service providers do a good Job of coving as many areas of the country as possible with their GPRS and 3G network. However, their data network signal is good in some areas, manageable in some and almost unusable in others.
In this review, the winner shall be that one network that has the overall best coverage in the country. We will factor in usability here. If the network is available for calls but unusable for data, then it is as good as not available. We are dealing strictly with Comparative Analysis of Nigeria’s Internet data networks. Not call networks.
This is a very tricky category. Interestingly, this particular factor is the reason why every Nigerian is not on a 4g network. I mean network coverage is not transferable. If you don’t have a 4G network in your region, you just have to go to where there is.
Truly, you need to do your research if you want the 4G network. Put a call through to the customer service of your network provider to ask about their network coverage. Base on research, I have come up with the following assumption about the 3G/4G coverage strength of MTN, GLO, Airtel and 9Mobile.
- Overall MTN has the widest network coverage and that is why it is called “everywhere you go”.
- Glo has the second largest network coverage in the country. Unfortunately, they have the least effective data network coverage nationwide.
- As of today, Airtel Nigeria still leads 9Mobile by the slightest of margins with regards to network coverage.
- 9mobile comes in the fourth position. However, to me, they are the best because they work perfectly where available.
Network Coverage Ratings
General, Mtn Nigeria has the widest network coverage. Although on some few occasions, the signal may be available but weak. Surprisingly, even with 1 signal network bar on an mtn line, you can still browse the internet.
AIRTEL = 81%
Etisalat/ 9mobile = 80%.
The Nigerian Network that wins the best network coverage category is: MTN NIGERIA
Comparative Analysis of Nigeria’s Internet in terms of reliability
This is one reason why I have slaved after MTN Nigeria for years before porting to 9Mobile. I still do use MTN occasionally notwithstanding. The logic is simple. A weak MTN data network signal reception will outperformsGLO’s full bars of data signa in most cases. Glo Mobile is the most unreliable Data Network in Nigeria while MTN comes on top by the slightest of margins. Etisalat should be the winner here but unfortunately, I have had instances where there is no Etisalat data network even though they are covered for a call.
Reliability Ratings of MTN, GLO, Airtel and 9Mobile
- MTN Nigeria = 90%
- Etisalat/9Mobile(AS of today) = 89%
- Airtel = 80%
- GLO Mobile = 55%(How I wish I can give glo 0%. Glo data network can be extremely unreliable. all they do is to pump money on celebrities for PR purposes. If you want a network that will be there for you like all of the time, choose mtn or Etisalat or Airtel. Glo once went off on me for 7days. It was absurd.
I will say MTN Nigeria and 9Mobile emerge as the Joint WINNER of the reliability category.
Comparative Analysis of Nigeria’s Internet data Networks with reference to Speed
Personally, I believe speed and reliability come even before the price. However, this is not about my opinion. We are addressing an issue that must be delivered with utmost objectivity here. I am an internet resource person who needs to be online always. Besides, it is not easy to judge the speed from just one location.
Fortunately for me, I have travelled a bit through most of the GEO-Zones of the country. The only place I have not been to is the North. That will not spoil the broth as i have many friends there who make their contributions to this article. Ultimately, one network can be the fastest in one state and come up the slowest in another.
Be that as it may, Etisalat/9Mobile 3G network is the fastest. I can’t really say GLO 4G is faster than that of MTN. Airtel doesn’t offer a 4G network yet so the fight for the winner as far as 4g is concerned is between GLO, MTN and 9Mobile. Glo tends to have a slightly wider 4G network coverage than MTN.
summarily since the 3G network still remains the most readily available in Nigeria, I would say 9Mobile is the fastest overall while Glo and MTN are the fastest at Night. Airtel is just hanging in the balance here. Now the second position goes to both Airtel and mtn. Glo 3G is only very fast in the dead of the night(I guess they want you to keep vigil to be able to get the value for your money)
Also, during peak periods in most locations in Nigeria, glo is near unusable. Another fact is that the speed of data transfer is dependent on the location. You may be getting 345kps in ibadan on mtn while you get 450kps in Lagos. And for downloading, Etisalat/9mobile is the fastest while glo comes second if you are downloading with it between 11pm to 4:0am.
Speed ratings of the various Internet providers in Nigeria
- Etisalat = 95%,
- MTN=80% and
- GLO = 73%(I gave glo 73 because of its exceptional speed on 3g during off-peak periods).
The winner for the Network with the fastest speed category is ETISALAT 9MOBILE(this can change tomorrow because of change of ownership)
Comparative Analysis of Nigeria’s Internet Data Bandwith Metering/Data Calculator/Billing
This is the area where these guys are ripping us off. Nigerian Network providers are doing the same thing some petrol stations were doing prior to the removal of subsidy on petrol. The first network to use a very bad data calculator to cheat unsuspecting customers is Glo. Way back when Glo was still the fastest, if you buy 1gb of data and use just 50mb out of it, the next time you check your data bal, you could see 650MB. All the four Major Networks in Nigeria are guilty of abnormal Data deduction to various degrees.
Eventually, the baton was passed on onto Airtel. If you buy 1.5gb of data from Airtel, just know that the actual data giving to you is #750mb. You will not know how you are being billed. Unfortunately, MTN Nigeria has gotten the bug too. MTN is now currently having the worst billing meter for their data. for your data to be reducing, all you need is to keep checking your balance after every light usage and you will see it going down before your eyes. This billing anomaly is so irritating and I wonder when our government will do something about it.
It gets so bad that if you have a 1gb data plan, trust me, you won’t be able to download a file of 700mb successfully before you run out of data. Now when someone like me is analysing network, it means I have done a thorough research. I have all four networks and I interchange them(I do not have a 4g network coverage in my location yet).
Rating the four Networks from the perspective of Data deduction:
- GLO= 75.4%
- AIRTEL= 80%
- ETISALAT= 90%
- MTN= 90%(This rating may change tomorrow when it does, i will update the house).
9Mobile and MTN are Joint WINNERS with regards to Fair usage/ Data zapping/Data deduction. As for GLO and Airtel, Only God knows how they bill.
Comparative Analysis of Nigeria’s Internet Data Allocation/Cap
Literally, Glo wins this race. I mean with just #1,000 you can get a 3.6gb worth of data(terms and conditions apply and which is that you must resubscribe before your validity lapses) However, what GLO gives you may be useless due to their despicable service. Coming second After GLO is Airtel Nigeria. The most expensive Internet service provider amongst the four in terms of data allocation is 9Mobile. Honestly, I can’t blame 9Mobile for offering less data for your money. They are the current champion in terms of speed.
Data plans allocation/quota/cap ratings between GLO, MTN, 9Mobile and Airtel
- GLO = 97%
- AIRTEL= 96%
- MTN = 95%,
- ETISALAT /9MOBILE = 80%.
This is also subject to changes without notice but I do not see any network displacing glo just yet. Airtel is announcing an unlimited plan, let us see what happens when it is fully launched. Glo gives you big data and takes away your happiness. By a small margin, the WINNER of the Data allocation category is GLO MOBILE
Comparative Analysis of Nigeria’s Internet: Stability
MTN and 9Mobile are the most stable with the data service. Etisalat follows closely. ratings: MTN= 95%, Etisalat=95%, Airtel=88%, GLO = 70%.
WINNER: MTN NIGERIA
Comparative Analysis of Nigeria’s Internet Service providers: Recommendations
If you reside in Lagos where we have all the fastest data networks in Nigeria, I will advise you to go for the cheapest 4g lte data plan. From observations, the worst 4g network can be faster than the best 3g. However, If the price, speed and coverage are not a problem in your situation; I will ask you to go with 9Mobile Nigeria. On the contrary, if you don’t want voice service, and you have spectranet in your city, they offer the cheapest data plans alongside Ntel.
By contrast, If you are in some exclusive and special glo zone, go with glo and manage the occasional disappointment that comes with it. MTN still remains the most reliable so, it is easy to decide on whether or not to use them. As for Etisalat, it is a neutral kind of network for now. My personal pick as a poor man with no money to waste, I am sticking with airtel considering the fact that I have a good signal quality for all the four networks in my area. If you are in Akwa Ibom state especially, Uyo, eket, ibeno, please consider glo as it is extremely strong over there.
Finally, if you have a contrary verifiable opinion, please submit your findings at the comment box below. Together, we can make this article even better.