Free Super Broadband @ The Palms, Lekki

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I am now headed back to my abode after a day at The Palms Shopping Mall in Lekki Nigeria. I had stumbled on a Facebook update from MainOne Cable just yesterday offering free broadband via Wi-Fi and so this dawn, I set-off to take “undue” advantage of the free broadband service.

I was more excited with the potential speed, than it being a freebie. You see, Main One is a submarine cable system that carries gigabytes of data from Europe to West Africa and so, I expected their connectivity (without going through MTN or another ISPs that use them) to be an extreme experience. In plain English, MainOne is an ISP’s ISP. So, I went to the mall with very high expectations.

I got to the mall around 8am and surprisingly, the MainOne booth was already opened and “manned” by a charming lady. She offered to assist me connect my laptop to the MainOne wi-fi network and even pointed me to a good sitting location. I later settled into a fine restaurant within the mall, soaking-up the broadband. MainOne had gone through the trouble to make sure every part of the mall was covered by their wi-fi signals and so one could enjoy the obscene internet speed from virtually any corner.

The speed met my expectations. I commenced downloading all the stuff I had always differed. With 3 heavy downloads in progress, I still got the results you see from the screen-shot below. I used a London-based server for the internet speed test.

Testing MainOne submarine cable system from Lekki Nigeria
Testing MainOne submarine cable system from Lekki Nigeria

Just to be triple sure, I initiated a video call to a friend in Malaysia via Skype. Though we could not talk much due to the noise around me, he confirmed the video was very smooth. Youtube videos (including HD versions) streamed smoothly for me today.

A few annoyances though:

  1. My Blackberry and (later) my Nokia 5800 XM could not detect MainOne’s wi-fi signal. Consequently, I could not experience the broadband on my smartphones. I was initially able to download some a podcast on the 5800 XM but that started failing after I upgraded the Operating System on the smartphone.
  2. The connection went off every hour or there about, and I had to always reconnect via my browser. I reckon this was their lame method of enforcing their “2 hour limit”.
Welcome! MainOne offers you Free Wi-Fi for the next two weeks! Experience the superior bandwidth we make available to you for two hours every day! If you want to experience MainOne yourselves, please speak to your Internet Service Provider, or come and visit us at our booth just in front of Shoprite! Welcome to MainOne!
MainOne two week promo ad

The annoyances aside, the speed was worth the trouble.

I know MainOne has been active for a few months now but using their connectivity via Internet Service Providers (ISPs) like MTN, Etisalat, Starcomms etc meant one had to suffer cellular network bottlenecks and be limited to the maximum speed limits offered by the cellular services. Example? I was able to download content at a steady speed of 2 MB/s (with two other downloads in progress) on MainOne’s wi-fi but the maximum (unsteady) speed I can get downloading via MTN’s 3.5G service is about 0.48 MB/s.

The free broadband party which started since 27th December 2010 is available till 9th January 2011.

Conclusion: the ISPs necessarily need to invest in better last mile technologies or improve their existing networks so consumers can enjoy the real broadband that is possible via MainOne. I know of Mobitel‘s 4G and Swift‘s WiMax but both have limited coverage.

Sidenote: I met the vociferous Osita (Oo) Nwoye for the first time today. He was also there to soak the MainOne broadband with every part of his body. We had intense conversations about the .ng top-level domain name system, and internet entrepreneurship in Nigeria generally.

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7 COMMENTS

  1. Hey – sorry for all the check-in troubles. Atmospace designed the WiFi network at the Palms and part of the issues experienced are multiple rouge access points which causes issues for 802.11b/g/n users.

    Again, sorry for the drama and we’re hoping to have it fixed soon.

    I have no issue when am connected to the network via my multi-mode wireless card which supports both 2.4/5 GHz. The network automatically detects clients capable of 5 GHz operation and steers them to that frequency which is clean and free from issues, while leaving 2.4 GHz available for legacy clients.

    Thanks.

    Bosun Davies
    Atmospace

    • Hello Bosun,

      Thanks for stopping-by to explain the technical issue.

      I am assuming Atmosphere would later provide paid and speedy broadband in the mall after the test period. Correct?

      Keep up the good work.

  2. Hi david Ajao,thanks,for taking time to share ur experience with us at Mainone.I came across your writeup when i was searching for ISPs in Lekki(i had just been consulted to setup a wifi or wireless internet facility in a cafe,somewhere in lekki).After reading your writeup ,i am beginning to feel i have found the right ISP for my client.So i need u to
    feed me with their website address and possibly their physical/location address

    Secondly,you said u used a London-based server for the internet speed test.Pls how do i get the link to the London-based server-i have been looking for good software or server based facility that i can use to test internet bandwidths,speed etc.You can send them to my mail.Thanks

    Regards
    Paul

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