Nigeria is one of the most vibrant mobile markets in the world. This page provides quick and comprehensive facts aboutmobile in Nigeria, including networks, services, and more. The sections include a history of mobile technology in the country.
History of Mobile in Nigeria
The first mobile cellular services began in 1993 with Mtel, but it was elitist and restricted in every way. Later, other CDMA operators offered limited mobile phone services as a small segment of their bouquet of services.
Widespread mobile services however took off in August 2001 after the country’s telecoms regulator, the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), issued GSM licences to new operators. . Each of the operators paid a $285m licence fee. The licensing threw up 3 operators – ECONET Wireless (now Airtel Nigeria), Mtel (a subsidiary of the state-owned NITEL), and MTN.
ECONET Wireless launched the first commercial GSM services in Nigeria. In a few years, Nigeria was toasted everywhere as one of the fastest-growing mobile markets in the world. Before the 2001 licensing of GSM operators, Nigeria had a total of about 450,000 connected telephone lines. Most of those lines were analogue.
Glomobile, the mobile arm of Globacom, Nigeria’s Second National Operator (SNO), took off in August 2003. By 2004, Nigeria had over 7 million telephone subscribers. Etisalat (now 9mobile) Nigeria took off in January 2007.
Nigeria has since overtaken South Africa to become Africa’s largest mobile market. As at 2018, the country had recorded over 100 million active telephone lines. But the GSM operators did not only bring a revolution in voice and SMS. They quickly became the driving force that produced an Internet revolution in the country.
Mobile In Nigeria: GPRS Internet
As part of its 1st Anniversary celebration, Glo Mobile launched GPRS based services on August 29th, 2004. GPRS is a packet-based 2G technology that offered faster internet connectivity than circuit switched data (GSM dial-up).
Mobile in Nigeria: 3G Internet
In 2007, four applicants were successful in obtaining a 10 MHz lot each in the 2 GHz band for third generation (3G) mobile services. The successful operators were:
1. Alheri Engineering. Later sold license to Etisalat (now 9mobile) Celtel Nigeria (now Airtel) GloMobile MTN Nigeria Communications
In early 2008, GloMobile launched the first commercial 3G service on their UMTS/HSPA network, followed closely by MTN. Alheri later sold their 3G licence to Etisalat (now 9mobile), which rolled out their service in 2011.
Mobile in Nigeria: (DVB-H/Mobile TV
At the moment, only MTN and GloMobile offer mobile TV (DVB-H) services in the country. They both have Dstv Mobile service available to subscribers with type handsets.
Mobile In Nigeria: 4G LTE
The country has a growing 4G broadband sector that is latching on LTE technology. Some service providers started out running WIMAX technology, but have switched to LTE. In 2016, the mobile operators began to launch 4G LTE networks across the country and all of them offer commercial 4G service today. Here is aconstantly updated list of active 4G networks in Nigeria.
Mobile In Nigeria: Smartphone Users
There were an estimated million smartphones in use in the country as at December 2014. As at September 2016, it is estimated that there are 22 million smartphones in use (see:Nigeria Smartphone Penetration [September 2016]). And in 2018, there were38 million smartphonesin use in the country.
Mobile in Nigeria: Internet Configuration Settings
If you ever need to manually configure your mobile for web browsing, here are settings for Nigerian mobile networks.
* Account Name: Airtel Mobile Internet Access Point Name (APN): internet.ng.airtel.com Username: internet (or blank) Password: internet (or blank) IP Address: none Port: none
* Account Name: Glo High Speed Internet Access Point Name (APN): gloflat Username: flat Password: flat IP Address: none Port: none
Smile 4G Nigeria
* Proxy : Nil (No proxy needed) APN Name: internet Password: Nil (No password needed) IP Version: IPv4
NOTE: User must attempt to scan manually for the LTE network, which is SMILE NG or 62127.
* Account Name: MTN GPRS Access Point Name (APN): web.gprs.mtnnigeria.net Username: web Password: web IP Address: 10.199.212.2 Port: 9201 (for WAP) or 8080 (for HTML)
* Account Name: 9mobile Access Point Name (APN): 9mobile Username: none Password: none IP Address: none Port: none
Mobile In Nigeria: Mobile Network Codes
You’ve seen those numbers, 0814xxxyyyy, 0909yyyxxxx, etc, and wondered which network owns which. Now, you can know. Note though that because of Mobile Number Portability (MNP), users are able to migrate a particular number from its native network to another. So, network codes don’t necessarily tell all any more. Airtel Visafone Visafone Starcomms Starcomms Multi-Links
0707 ZoomMobile (formerly Reltel)
0808 Airtel mobile
0816 MTN mobile mobile
0905 Globacom mobile
Mobile In Nigeria: Network Frequencies
If roaming to Nigeria, or intending to import GSM mobile phones into the country, be sure to note the following specifications required for the Nigerian market:
Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) is the industry regulator in Nigeria.Official Website.
Founder of MobilityArena. Yomi’s journey in mobile started in 2001. Besides obsessing over mobile phones, he also started creating WAP sites (early mobile-friendly websites created with WML). He began writing about phones in 2004 and has been at it since then. He has owned over 200 devices, from Symbian, Palm, PocketPC/Windows Mobile, BlackBerry/BB10, webOS, Windows Phone, Firefox, Ubuntu Touch, to Android, iOS, and KaiOS operating systems.
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