MTN’s LTE is surprisingly decent, but could be better
Remember that we told you guys that MTN’s 4G LTE service – a direct result of its acquisition of Visafone – had gone live across the country? Well, I for one had been waiting for it for a long time, mostly because, I knew that they were my best bet at getting an alternate 4G data service in my neck of the woods, to complement my current default.
So as soon as they went live, I hopped on it and started using the service, to see how it compared to the other options and I’ve been using had it for the better part of two weeks now, so here are a few thoughts:
Coverage is definitely going to be one of MTN’s strong points when the service becomes available to the general public (at the moment, only erstwhile Visafone subscribers who have made the switch to MTN have access). Almost overnight, MTN by leveraging on its own existing network and its Visafone acquisition has become the 4G network with the widest coverage in Nigeria, with the service available in all the major cities already. In my use, (which has unfortunately been restricted to Kaduna), I’ve found coverage to be pretty much everywhere I go.
Speed is where MTN’s 4G service feels like a bit of a let down. Don’t get me wrong, on the average, it is as fast as most of the other competing providers, but considering that the network isn’t anywhere near full capacity, I was expecting way faster internet. On the average, I experienced speeds around the 8-10 Mbps range, with the fastest monitored speed being 22Mbps and the slowest being just over 2Mbps.
For now, MTN’s still sticking with Visafone’s data plans, which in today’s Nigeria of relatively cheap data feel over-priced. For instance a thousand Naira, gets you just 200Mb…ridiculous, considering that the same would get you 1.5GB on a regular MTN (3G) data plan. The prices get fairer as you go up (e.g N2,000 for 2GB, N3,500 for 4GB, N6000 for 10GB…etc), but never quite get to the point where they match the 3G plans buck for buck.
This raises the question whether customers would be asked to pay different prices for the same amount of data across both technologies (3G and 4G) in the future. If that becomes the norm, there’s a chance 4G won’t get adopted as quicky as 3G was, considering that pricing is a major factor/barrier when it comes to adopting new tech.
In any case, I’ll be sticking with MTN as an alternate to my current LTE plan. While it tends to be faster than my default, I find the costs as they are now, too pricey to be used as anything but a backup for me at the moment.