NIGERIA: SHOPPING FOR A MOBILE PHONE NETWORK

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In Nigeria today there are a number of mobile phone operators offering a wide range of services. However the dominant mobile phone service in Nigeria today is voice calls. This document will provide information on choosing a mobile phone network.

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The most important factors to consider before buying a mobile phone network plan are

1 Call rates
2 Network reliability
3 Customer support of company

CALL RATES

Call rates is a very important factor to consider before signing up to any network. Call rates vary from network to network and even within a mobile phone network there are many plans to choose from. In Nigeria today the mobile phone companies are promoting lots of service plans, from free mid night on net calls to cheaper calls and SMS.

Don’t jump into any plan without first considering the overall package and ensuring that it suites you. For example some service plan may offer you free mid night calls but charge you more during the day. Another may charge a token at night but offer you cheaper call rates during the day than the free mid night call service plan.

Other plans may offer cheaper call rates but higher costs for SMS. So go through all the plans and find one that matches your criteria.

A guide to choosing a cost effective service plan is to know one simple fact. Regional networks are on the average cheaper than national mobile phone networks. So, one way of reducing your call cost is to sign up to a regional network.

Regional networks are very cost effective. For example calling any of the national GSM phone networks using a regional mobile phone from say Starcomms will cost less than 20 naira per minute. Calling the same number with a GSM number even within the same network will cost up to 40 naira per minute.

Call rates within regional mobile phone networks ranges from 5 naira to 15 naira per minute.

Regional mobile phone networks have some setbacks, they are not available everywhere and hence cannot be used everywhere. However if you live in cities like Lagos, Abuja, Kano, Port-Harcourt, Onitsha and Enugu and you do not regularly leave those cities, then you can experience huge cost savings just by signing up to regional networks like Starcomms, Bourdex, Multilinks, etc.

However if you are always on the move or live in a rural area then the GSM phone network may be the only choice that you have.

A lot of people when they think of buying mobile phones think only about GSM phones. But companies that were previously offering fixed wireless options are now offering cost effective CDMA mobile phone options.

Before buying your next mobile phone network plan shop around do a thorough research of all your available options and choose one that is right for you.

NETWORK RELIABILITY

Network reliability of mobile phone networks in Nigeria has been very poor for the past two years. This, the network operators claim is as a result of the on going energy crisis in Nigeria.

Although the poor network performance is experienced across networks there are networks that are better than others. Some mobile phone networks are known to go off each time it rains while others are blown away by the wind.

GSM companies like glo and Celtel still operate manageable network quality. However regional mobile phone networks are more reliable on the average. This could be because of the smaller areas that they cover. They are bound to have a faster response time to faults than the national GSM phone networks.

Customer Support

You should look for a mobile phone network with great customer support. MTN, Celtel, Glo, and Starcomms have websites with lots of information about the various services they offer. This websites are also regularly updated so you can trust on the relevance of the content.

However, most of the customer service centers leave a lot to be desired. Like network reliability some mobile phone networks offer better customer care than others.

Using a mobile phone is not as simple as buying a good mobile phone. You also need to subscribe to a network that is cost effective, reliable and meets your needs. In addition the mobile phone network operator should also respond to your problems promptly and effectively.

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