4G Speeds In Nigeria – The Hype vs The Reality

GLO-LOGOOut of curiosity, I enabled the 4G radio on my Samsung Galaxy S3 phone for the first time since i got it and was taken aback when i noticed the 4G icon. Expecting it to be a ruse, i decided to give my download speed a test and was pleasantly surprised at what i saw. Download speeds hovered mostly around the 2mbps mark with burst speed breasting the 4mbps mark. Wow! 30 minutes later, i got an even bigger surprise – nothing pleasant here –¬† i discovered that over 200mb from the 260mb data available on my phone had been zapped!. A data allocation that usually last for a month got used up in 30 minutes?! What?! Within the short period, i had downloaded a 74MB file from Youtube, did multiple speed tests, downloaded softwares and files, enjoying the newly discovered download speeds but forgetting that my data allocation was not unlimited. A text message from Globacom brought me to reality: “Dear Glo subscriber, 47.0Mb of the volume allocated to you is still remaining. Rule your world!”. What?!

This indeed was a new experience for me. I am not a light data user, not by a long shot, but the usual slow 2G and 2.75G speeds (Edge) that has more widespread coverage in Nigeria is, at best, epileptic and unreliably. You can use a 100MB data allocation for months, not because you do not want to use it but because you do not get to use it. Most times, i do not even get to use my data allocation at all, usually relying on WIFI, using the mobile data allocation only while i am on the road.

I enjoyed the 4G experience i had at my workplace, it was very new to me. The last time i experienced speeds like that was in the UK. However, the funny thing is that my home, barely 15 minutes away, could not boast of a reliable 2G connection. That is the fad in Nigeria. The networks  introduce cutting edge technology and make it available only in a sprinkle of locations and spend more money creating a hype out of it, boasting about been the first to do this or that. Recently, Airtel Рanother Nigerian mobile network, claimed to have completed its 4G trials in Lagos.

I honestly look forward to the day when 4G speeds would be common place in Nigeria. I only hope Jesus wouldn’t come before then. Sigh.


  • Harry Echemco

    The average speed of 3.5Mbps includes 3G networks as well. See excerpt from the page:

    Wireless data speeds have soared: Since this time last year, the major wireless carriers, as a group, have increased their average download speeds for laptop-modem users by more than threefold, an apparent result of their urgent transition from 3G to 4G network technology. (We measured the best service we could get–3G or 4G–in each testing location.) Over laptop modems, the Big Four carriers now have a collective average download speed of roughly 3.5 megabits per second in our 13 testing cities, versus a nearly 1-mbps average download speed in those cities at the beginning of 2010, a remarkable improvement.

    Still, I acknowledge that the recorded speeds for their 4G networks in the various locations are also below the mark.

    • A

      Well, the US networks still call it 4G. So maybe we should cut our own networks here some slack and let them peddle whatever their offering is as 4G.

  • “I enabled the 4G radio on my Samsung Galaxy S3 phone”

    Wow; on gsmarena doesn’t say it supports 4g.

    “However, the funny thing is that my home, barely 15 minutes away, could not boast of a reliable 2G connection”

    Baffles me how network masts are installed in Lasgidi. Guess they have small radius coverage or something?

    • A

      The US variant of the S3 comes with 4G and 2GB RAM. You may search on google using keyword “Samsung Galaxy S3 T999”, it is the Tmobile variant.

  • Harry Echemco


    Yes, Crystal Downloader is a downloader manager/accelerator for Android devices. In terms of speed of downloads, I doubt there is anything on desktop that beats it.

  • @Harry What’s Crystal Downloader??? Is it a download accelerator

  • Interesting, and exciting, these reported speeds.

    For me, the nomenclature the networks put is not what is important,it is the actual speed (in real use) that is paramount.

    This is analogous to touting MegaWatts of power generated by Almighty PHCN.

    All that is important is consistency in speed and ubiquity of service !

  • Harry Echemco

    Funny and appalling at the same time, the speeds that qualify as 4G in this country. My device does not have 4G hardware, but its 3G speed is rated at 7.2Mbps. The 4Mbps you observed is still below the peak value for my device and yet, there are 3G devices that support 14Mbps, 21Mbps and even 42Mbps.

    While still using Etisalat data services some 7 months ago, I was able to achieve peak download speed of up to 6.5Mbps, but with a sustained download speed that never dropped below 4.9Mbps, using Crystal Downloader for Android.

    I’m Presently using Airtel network for my data needs and on Airtel too, I achieve a peak download speed of up to 3.8Mbps but a sustained download speed of about 2.3Mbps using that same Crystal Downloader for Android.

    In the USA where networks are allowed to market their services with the 4G moniker, even though this is incorrect from the true definition of the 4G standards, the speeds they are allowed to market under this 4G are from 40Mbps and above, while the predominant speeds are from 50Mbps. Let’s hope the speeds you’ve observed so far are test speeds that will be improved upon later. Thanks for your work.

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