What Will Happen When True 4G Comes to Nigeria? - Digital Space

Tuesday, 11 September 2012

What Will Happen When True 4G Comes to Nigeria?

It was truly annoying when I first saw Swift Networks in Lagos, Nigeria advertising that their network was now a 4G network. So I decided to give them a chance and find out what they had done differently this time (I had used their network before they did a massive overhaul).

Unfortunately, Swift is not the only network staking a claim to 4G-dom. Mobitel readily comes to mind as one other. The truth is the unknowing customer might suffer a similar case as someone who is poorly trained in a skill when all the while he thinks he is a master until he meets another person who has proper training in that particular skill.

So what is 4G?
That is where we should always begin our quest to understand a new term, claim or service. Asking the question "why?" always solves a lot of problems. To avoid getting too technical and spewing out figures and data download/upload rates, 4G networks are supposed to be better than 3G, it makes sense doesn't it. Well, 4G or fourth generation is described by Wikipedia as: "In telecommunications4G is the fourth generation of cell phone mobile communications standards. It is a successor of the third generation (3G) standards. A 4G system provides mobile ultra-broadband Internet access, for example to laptops with USB wireless modems, to smartphones, and to other mobile devices. Conceivable applications include amended mobile web access, IP telephony, gaming services, high-definition mobile TV, video conferencing and 3D television."

Thank goodness that our telcos e.g. MTN, Airtel, Etisalat have not started claiming that their networks are 4G instead they say it is 3.75G. Well, I will forgive them for creating a totally different market segment because there's surely something between old regular 3G and 4G. But the big fact is that these guys haven't truly delivered on 3G. Let's not get into how many times I have connected USB modem and to my laptop and pray that the video I really needed to watch will buffer enough to be watchable. Truth be told, they have made progress from where they were a year ago.

Another important thing to note is that there are two sides to the network coin: the sender and the receiver. I have heard some Swift customers, for example, bitterly complaining about the speed of their modems while others say it is faster than anything they've seen. So what's wrong? One issue I can think of is proper coverage. If there's poor coverage in your region from the internet service provider, ISP, you will have poor speeds whether they claim 4G or 5G. This goes for your mobile operator as it does for regular ISPs. So what you, the customer should take out of this is that where you live really matters.

So, when true 4G comes to Nigeria, we will know. There won't be gray areas. It will work, it will be fast, we would be able to watch TV on our laptops or SmartTVs without buffering, buffering and buffering. Emailing and surfing the web will be child's play and we will all be doing stuff on the internet at the true speed of light!