Poor Internet Service delivery in Nigeria. The need to take on the ISPs.

I do not know why the government or its agencies do not call the erring Internet Service Providers (ISPs) in Nigeria to order. Perhaps, the federal government and state government institutions, the regulatory body Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), the federal and state legislature(s) and other leading institutions in Nigeria are all connected to the Internet via VSAT using foreign ISPs or using NITEL’s direct access to the SAT3 cable. Whatever it is, the government of the day is not feeling what the average Nigerian is feeling. Else, how does one describe the very poor Internet access service offered by many of the ISPs in Nigeria to the general populace? What is the NCC doing exactly?

The abysmal performance cuts across the spectrum of the various Internet connectivity solution providers in Nigeria:-

GSM networks:
All the four GSM networks offer Internet access solutions using GPRS, EDGE and/or 3G (3.5G?). Already their voice networks almost always underperform and so their Internet services are nothing to write home about – either the speed is terribly slow or too expensive or a horrible combination of both! The GSM networks are busy trying to out-do each other with adverts and promos, instead of concentrating on their core areas – quality service delivery and ultimately customer satisfaction.

CDMA networks:
The question about which is worse (Internet access quality between GSM and CDMA networks) would to a large extent depend on whom you ask. Either way, it is obvious that none of the CDMA networks stands tall. Else, why are there so many complaints from users on public discussion forums and blogs on the Internet? How come the name Starcomms is associated with billing problems and poor customer service?

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Oluniyi D. Ajao
Oluniyi D. Ajao is an Internet Entrepreneur and Tech Enthusiast based in South Africa. Follow him on twitter @niyyie for more tech updates.


  1. rather than lay the blame as ‘poor ISPs’ getting direct connection from the Sat-3 cable, I would rather hold the managers/stake-holders of the Sat-3 to ransom. This is fiber-optics for Christ’s sake, why should it be blinking like NEPA? If NITEL gets its act together and we can all see it, then we now start talking ISPs.

    On the issue of ISPs getting their services from foreign ISPs(located outside Nigeria), is it not a shame? It is because the local-resource/s we have are not available, thats why they(ISPs) are looking outside. 1/10th of the 21st century is almost over, and yet we are still in the stone age. Nigerians are the most educated ethnic group in almighty America? and yet Nigeria cannot provide itself internet service…the half-leg of NITEL is completely broken and no-one cares to repair it. How many countries in Europe turn the tables around and use the Nigerian gateway? If they try, their mailboxes will be spammed. Even other African countries are opting out little by little. Is it not possible that a country like Nigeria can stabilize its Sat-3 and even lay another cable for itself? By the time we add up all the monies stolen by politicians, I can see a fiber cable in view, can’t you. And rather than bring these peeps to the book, we decide to sack Ribadu. Wont this reduce the cost of internet access, and provide better service? Africa is the largest pay-master to satellite companies..ex(Intelsat), etc. Wont it be better if our governments can put their heads together, so that rather than all these ISPs paying extra-terrestial amounts to Satellite companies etc, such monies can be used to develop ‘something’ locally?

    Our GSM providers are a sorry story to talk about. The bottom line I see here is that our people at the top are not doing their job by enforcing quality of service delivery. After these GSM companies deliver monthly envelopes to the oga-patapata’s, the only thing these ogas can think about is: the weight of the envelope, not quality of service, so how can we talk about quality of service. If you ask them very well, they will tell u that they are doing us ‘a favor’

  2. While I agree that the backend/backbone needs urgent attention, we must also not forget that last mile delivery is key, and this is where most ISPs fail.

    My experiences with Starcomms and all 3 GSM/UMTS networks suggests that they pay lip service to last mile delivery. What happened with Starcomms had nothing to do with the backend or backbone connectivity. It was just pure terrible customer service delivery.

    Here’s the dilemma: where do subscribers turn? It all looks messed up in every direction.

  3. Another Fibre Optic Cable Internet Connectivity for Africa…

    An image showing the SAT-3/WASC (cable system) route. Image courtesy of Wikipedia
    It appears Internet connectivity on the African continent especially in Ghana and Nigeria is about to get better soon. The Ghana News Agency (GNA) reports the launch of y…

  4. Hi Niyi Ajao,
    Where are u now,still with NIBSS ?
    We were in NACS team together with
    me holding for CBN/MICR.
    Cheers and please get in touch.

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