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Thursday 8th June, 2023


Prices Of Data Plans Among Telcos Show Smile Emerging The Most Pocket Friendly



Close your eyes for a moment and imagine how you can fare in today’s world without being “mobile”, not just on the move but living without your telephone or allied tablets.

Invariably, modernity has predisposed most people to be largely dependent on telephony and data transmission. Today, the average Nigerian could be said to need four essentials namely food, shelter, clothing, and telephony.

More than most things, the Nigerian has embraced telephony with utmost gusto. Nigeria has the highest teledensity in Africa. And not even the recent revelation by the Nigeria Communications Commission (NCC) that almost twenty-five million lines are dormant could detract from the country’s high teledensity.

Neither is it indicative of a dwindling appreciation of telephonic services by Nigerians. If anything, the appetite for telephony and data transmission remains huge among Nigerians who embrace the major network operators largely for their reliability, network integrity, and value-adding services.

In recent times, there has been a noticeable upsurge in the deployment of broadband networks and extension of broadband services by Telcos. This has led to an increase in the number of users and consumers of broadband services.

Other ancillary factors also contributed to the growth. For instance, the growth recorded in January 2022 is on the back of the NCC’s lifting of the ban on new SIM card sales and activation after a temporary halt on sales to allow for the National Identification Number (NIN) and SIM card integration exercise.

Also, the imperative of the COVID-19 pandemic compelled more individuals and organizations to resort to working remotely. The trend for virtual operations still subsists amongst workers who have embraced the virtual option and sundry users who rely on the internet to get things done.

To function effectively, these individuals and organizations require fast and reliable internet connectivity. Telecoms operators, including core Internet Service Providers (ISP), have continued to offer different data plans.

The recent countrywide survey, conducted by Factsmill Consulting Limited, shows that Nigerians’ love for broadband services is on the increase. The survey showed, among other things, that the favourites of the Nigerian telephone user are Voice and Data.

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The leaders in the voice segment of the market are MTN, Airtel, Globacom, and 9mobile. These four-voice leaders are in the Tier 1 category. Also making a strong showing in voice are some Tier 2 category players, the likes of Smile Communications, Spectranet, and nTel that offer Voice over LTE (VoLTE).

The reverse seems to be the case as it pertains to Data. Here, the major front-runner is Smile Communications, a pioneer 4G LTE operator renowned for its innovative and value-adding broadband services.

In a clime where the cost of living least of them broadband services is skyrocketing by the day no thanks to inflation, Smile is the only operator that often increases the Data volumes for the same price. However, the major telcos continue to make a strong showing. Collectively, they dominate the turf of data services.

Each of them is strengthened in its data coverage by the depth and breadth of its national reach. Other operators making a strong showing in the provision of data are core broadband service providers notably Spectranet, Swift Networks, and nTel. Bringing up the rear are the likes of Tizeti and FibreOne.

The Survey focused mainly on the current Data plans offerings by notable Telcos with emphasis on core data providers. It reviewed some specific data plans on offer. It utilized the Questionnaire method and Oral Interview technique. It employed the sample population technique with emphasis on Focused Groups.

These focused groups comprised more small and medium scales organizations. The mapping territories were four major Nigerian towns including Lagos, Port Harcourt, Kaduna, and Abuja.

Comparative Analysis of the Current Data Plans Offerings among Major Broadband Service Providers (in tabular form):

Most of the respondents were in unison that currently, the data plans from Smile, especially the revamped Bigga and UnLimited packages along with the new 400GB Jumbo plan are the most preferable as they offer more value for money.

For instance, the 10GB data bundle with a validity of 30 days is a common offer from most Internet service providers. Tizeti Communications, one of the new entrants in the broadband market, offers its 10GB at N2, 000.

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Smile Communications, which pioneered 4G LTE service, offers its 10GB Bigga data bundle at N3, 000 as against that of Spectranet, one of the older internet service providers that offer its own 10GB doMORE plan for N3, 750.

On the 15GB data plan with a validity of 30 days, more respondents thought that the new Smile’s 15GB Bigga is the favourite as it costs the lowest at N4,000. Spectranet’s 15GB doMORE Value Plan costs more at N5, 300. On the other hand, nTel’s 4K data plan and Swift Economy offer only 12GB, 3GB lesser for the same N4, 000 costs.

It is also more rewarding for subscribers to go for the 20GB Bigga plan, valid for 30 days from Smile Communications at just N5, 000 compared to the Spectranet’s 18GB doMORE Value Plan, though for the same 30 days validity but costing N1, 500 more at N6, 500.

It was further observed that for a 30 days validity period, where Spectranet’s 25GB doMORE Mega Value Plan cost N7, 500, Smile also has the corresponding 25GB Bigga data plan offer at a lower price of N6, 000 only. The Swift Essential Mini option from Swift Networks at the cost N6, 000 comes with only 20GB, a 5GB shortfall.

Smile, at the price of N12, 000, provides customers with an UnLimited Lite data plan of 40GB. However, Swift Networks offers the same 40GB data bundle but at a higher cost of N12, 790. The closest plan from Spectranet is the doMORE Mega Value Plan of 35GB goes for N10, 500. Discerning subscribers, therefore, tilt towards the 40GB UnLimited Lite data plan from Smile.

For the 100GB data bundle, the analysis revealed that the UnLimited Essential plan from Smile cost the lowest. It goes for N18, 000 only as against the doMORE Mega Value Plan from Spectranet at N21, 500 and Swift Elite Plus Special at N27, 640 respectively. This translates to a higher corresponding cost of N3, 500, and 9,640 from Spectranet and Swift Networks respectively.

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For the high-end users, feedback from our research indicated that no other broadband service provider offers the 400GB Jumbo data plan option with up to 180 days validity aside from Smile. Smile offers the 400GB Jumbo for N50, 000 only.

Conversely, Spectranet’s Smart Value, valid for 180 days, with only a 108GB data bundle costs N38, 600. Relatively, the Swift Quarterly Data Plan of 200GB valid for 90 days cost N32, 000 meaning double the price and the bundle will make N62, 000 for 400GB with 180days validity.

A summary of the findings of the survey showed that respondents highlighted the issue of data depletion. The perceived high data depletion rate has continued to be a major source of worry to subscribers. The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), the telecoms industry regulator, has confirmed this across all networks.

It had promised to institute a forensic audit to find out the reason for the fast data depletion across the network providers. Data depletion however is believed to be largely dependent on data usage and consumption by the subscriber.

Conclusively, with a margin of error of 4% on a scale of a 100, the Survey is adjudged very reliable, and yielded the following results:

  • All the major Telcos have data plans; of the Unlimited and Revamped data plans variety that inevitably compete among themselves.
  • The majority of the customers utilize data plans and deem the plans very useful for their official and private chores.
  • Urban-based young adults ranked highest among the active users, and are mostly influenced by Price and Product.
  • The audience favourite as far as the revamped data plan is concerned is the stable of Smile with a 43% rating, then Spectranet with 27%, Swift Network with 20%, nTel with 8%, and Tizeti with 2%.
  • Smile’s innovative streak remains largely unrivaled.
  • Smile Communications is the only operator that increased the data volumes for the same price despite the challenging operating environment.



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Liquid Dataport Launches Shortest Fibre Route

The much anticipated 3,800km route marks a new era in East-West connectivity on the continent, adding to Liquid’s One Africa Digital Network, which now spans 110,000 km

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Liquid Dataport, a business of Liquid Intelligent Technologies, a pan-African technology group, has launched its newest fibre route connecting Mombasa, Kenya, to Muanda on the west coast of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DR Congo).

This is the shortest route connecting East to West Africa, reducing data transmission latency by 20 milliseconds, with the much anticipated 3,800km route marking a new era in East-West connectivity on the continent, and adding to Liquid’s One Africa Digital Network, which now spans 110,000 km.

The fibre route connects Kenya and DRC, passing through Uganda and Rwanda and bringing more reliable and affordable broadband connectivity to over 40 million people living and working in all the major cities along the route.

The latest route complements Liquid’s earlier achievement, already a first, in 2019, linking Dar Es Salaam to Muanda on the West Coast of DR Congo via Zambia.

Hardy Pemhiwa, President & Group Chief Executive Officer of Liquid Intelligent Technologies, said, “The real challenge today is closing the access-usage gap in Africa so that more Africans can use the internet technologies available to them, now and in the future.

“This East-West route which complements our existing Pan Africa fibre network is significant because it is helping to solve that problem – it not only brings global traffic to the continent but also improves the cost economics of Africa’s broadband Internet access.”

The new East-West route enables Liquid’s customers to take advantage of capacities ranging from 1Mbps to 100,000Mbps. It enables cloud supplier redundancy with access to multiple data centres and cable landing stations, ensuring maximum uptime. This is hugely beneficial to the many businesses in East, Central & Southern Africa that are embarking on their digital transformation journey.

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In order for African enterprises to expand continentally and compete with their global counterparts, they need stable, reliable connectivity with low latency and access to numerous digital tools to optimise their businesses.

“We have a significant number of wholesales, enterprise and hyperscale customers along this route, and we fully support them in operating their global networks.

“The availability of our latest and shortest East to West route brings many proven economic and social benefits – from providing access to online educational resources to creating more jobs and driving the adoption of new technologies,” said David Eurin, Chief Executive Officer of Liquid Dataport.

The Mombasa-Muanda route will help global organisations looking for Internet resiliency avoid the Red Sea and Europe routes which have become bottlenecks for global Internet traffic and will provide faster fibre connectivity to landlocked countries on the African continent, creating significant attractiveness for growing connectivity hubs in Kenya and DRC.

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AMS-IX, MDXi Launch New Internet Exchange For Lagos, Nigeria



AMS-IX, one of the largest Internet Exchange operators in the world, and MDXi, an Equinix company, have announced the launch of a new Internet Exchange in Lagos, Nigeria. 

The new Internet Exchange, AMS-IX Lagos, is situated in the carrier-neutral data center of MDXi, an Equinix Company.

Under the terms of the partnership, MDXi will serve as the commercial partner of AMS-IX and the regional sales and marketing arm for AMS-IX Lagos.

AMS-IX will run the technical and operational management of the exchange.

AMS-IX Lagos aims to become an important content hub for West Africa, enabling regional and local ISPs, carriers, and Internet Exchanges to aggregate content from large global Content Delivery Networks, hosting companies and application providers.

In the coming months, MDXi, an Equinix Company and AMS-IX will focus on seeking alliances with local telecom operators and IX’s and supporting local ecosystems.

AMS-IX Lagos will launch with over 25 connected networks as AMS-IX and MDXi, an Equinix Company migrate and onboard the existing connected networks of West Africa Internet Exchange (WAF-IX) in the coming month.

Connected networks at WAF-IX include large CDNs and application providers such as Cloudflare, Microsoft and Google.

Peter van Burgel, CEO of AMS-IX said, “We intend to add value to the local carriers and IXs by attracting even more content players to the region and supporting the local connectivity community.

“This is a very exciting project for us as we see it as an important stepping stone for bringing low-latency affordable Internet available for the West-African region.”

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Funke Opeke, Director MDXi, an Equinix company states “This partnership enables MDXi to deliver value to the rich ecosystem of network operators, carriers, content providers, cloud services providers, and enterprises that we have present in the data center.

“The AMS-IX partnership will help MDXi consolidate its role as a content hub not just for Nigeria, but for Francophone and English-speaking West and Central Africa.”

AMS-IX (Amsterdam Internet Exchange) is a neutral member-based association that operates multiple interconnection platforms worldwide.

Its leading platform in Amsterdam has been playing a crucial role at the internet’s core for almost 30 years and is one of the world’s largest hubs for internet traffic with over 11 Terabits per second (Tbps) of peak traffic.

Connecting to AMS-IX ensures customers such as internet service providers, telecom companies and cloud providers that their global IP traffic is routed in an efficient, fast, secure, stable and cost-effective way.

This allows them to offer low latency and engaging online experiences for end-users. AMS-IX interconnects more than 1000 IP networks in the world.

AMS-IX also manages the world’s first mobile peering points: the Global Roaming Exchange (GRX), the Mobile Data Exchange (MDX) and the Internetwork Packet Exchange (I-IPX) interconnection points.

MDXi, an Equinix company is West Africa’s leading data centre company, boasting carrier-neutral data centres with a combined capacity of 5 MW across the key markets of Nigeria, Ghana, and Cote d’Ivoire. It provides access to all leading internet exchanges, network providers and ISPs in the West African region.

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Smile Offers Customers Free Streaming Data



Smile Communications, Nigeria’s foremost and leading mobile broadband provider has introduced a new offer to its teeming customers.

The new offer allows for FREE Streaming data for consumers to stream their favourite content on YouTube, Netflix, and Amazon Prime Video absolutely FREE.

Abdul Hafeez, Chief Marketing Officer, Smile Nigeria, said of the offer, “We are giving our customers so much more when they purchase any of our select Bigga plans with FREE streaming data, so they can have fun engaging with their favourite entertainment and social media services for longer.”

All Smile customers who recharge a Bigga plan, from 1.5GB to 20GB, priced from N1,000 to N5,000, will get an additional 3GB to 5GB FREE streaming data to use between 11 pm and 6 am on YouTube, Netflix, and Prime Video.

Smile said in a statement that with this offer, consumers get access to FREE Youtube, FREE Netflix, and FREE Amazon prime video when they subscribe to any of the select Bigga plans from Smile.

“We are still a consumer-centric organisation that understands the huge financial responsibilities associated peculiarly with the first quarter globally and want to cushion these effects with extra value for our consumers while encouraging other Nigerians to get on the Smile network to enjoy this and many other goodies from Smile,” Hafeez concluded.

Smile communications led in voice call acquisitions in the past year and are poised to enter new markets, as well as deliver several firsts within the telecommunications operating space as the year progresses.

Industry watchers are of the opinion that Smile is a brand to look out for in 2023.

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