Choosing an ISP and isp

That’s Internet Service Provider and internet service plan

Now that’s that cleared up, there are a couple of things you will want to consider when choosing an ISP or isp such as: your average data consumption, where you live/coverage, will you actually consume the data you paid for (either willingly or otherwise).

Well, there’s a number of options to choose from. You can go with one (or all) of the four GSM operators: (Airtel, etisalat, glo mobile & MTN), CDMA (Starcomms or Visafone) or fixed broadband (quite a number of them) Choosing the last option means you won’t be able to carry it about…except you actually want to have a box for it which you’ll keep in your car, and then power from your battery or some other external power source (do you really want to go through all that!?) or purchasing one of the MiFi device (MiFi is a line of compact wireless routers produced by Novatel Wireless that act as mobile Wi-Fi hotspots. MiFi stands for ‘My Wi-Fi’. The MiFi can be connected to a mobile phone (cellular) carrier and provide internet access for up to 5 devices. The MiFi works at a distance up to 10 m (30 ft) and will provide internet or network access to any WiFi enabled peripheral device.)

First of all DO NOT fall for the hype about all that noise of broadband speed. Elsewhere that usually translates into mbps (mega bits per second) . Here in the “Niger Area” its still (largely) in the kbps range. Actually most of the ISPs must think to themselves; these suckers green horns have been used to 56kbps so much, giving them 512kbps would be like parting the Red Sea!

However, one must admit that this is more prevalent with non-GSM operators. If there’s a mbps available, your phone or dongle will ride on that speed unlike where its pegged at particular connection rate.

COE (not college of education) A number of us already have “high speed modems” in the form of your smart phones already without knowing it. All you need do is tether  (at this point your Agric. Science classes begins to flow back into that bright cranium of yours and no its not staking a ruminant animal to graze within a certain circumference…at least not here).

The fancy terminology aside, it simply means that you can use the existing data plan on your mobile smartphone to connect to the internet by plugging your phone to your PC via a USB cable or connect wirelessly through Bluetooth. (the USB option is faster) Even better, if you have an Android running version 2.2 (Froyo) or higher, a Symbian device with Joiku installed or Nokia running Belle , a BlackBerry phone with OS 7.1 and you have a (generous) data plan, you can make your phone a wireless hotspot without any technical witchcraft and you’ll also be able to secure it with a password just like with the one at your home or office.

That way you reduce the number of devices you have to carry around as you wouldn’t have purchased a new one. Just keep a charger handy 😉

What might be considered a downside is the fact that once tethered, your data allotment might be depleted even if you are not streaming (a data hogger) but by the fact that updates are going on  in the background. So you might want to turn off or suspend those pesky third party programs on your PC that tell you the weather when you can just peek outside your window.

Now the cost of the dongles (and perks) from the GSM operators:

Airtel N6,500.00 (with 2GB bundled) point here for more details on plans

Easyblaze (Etisalat) N6,500.00 (with 2.5GB bundled)

Glo N5000 point here for more details

F@stlink (MTN) point here for more details

LOCATION Like the real estate (wo)man will tell you (or was it Chucky): location, location location. If you pay for a plan and you are sold the kool aid that you’ll be getting broad or wide band speed, it will amount to you loosing hairs on one side of your head when you begin tearing it out and use words that will probably have the neighbours request you install an blipper in your home when you start experiencing not-what-i-paid-for scenario.

Certain ISPs such as Starcomms and Swift Wirelesss  usually asked where you live or intend to use their service (don’t know if they still do) and give you a caveat before hand that you might not get “broadband” speeds if you are not in that area. Most of the others adopt the style of: leap of the Third Mainland bridge and when you are midway, ask why you believed you could momentarily defy gravity.

DON’T BE LIKE THE JONESES If you are not going to use that 3GB you paid for in the end, stick with having the data costs deducted from your call credit since its quite cheap and you can (lawfully) make it cheaper by using Opera Mini on your phone. However, if you are a like a black hole or the scriptural locust when it comes to data consumption, then you have no problem (but try not to exhaust you data plan whatever you appetite)

The above scenario applies to mobile phones. If you couldn’t be bothered by whether your phone has a barometer or DNA testing prowess (don’t be shocked when its added) and you just call and send the occasional text message, but still require internet access for work, study, e.t.c, then get a usb dongle or mifi.

You can still stick with the GSM people or join the CDMA band Starcomms (iZap) and Visafone. Zoom is “unconscious” at the moment.  ipNX (iWireless) and Swift Broadband (Swift Networks) [you will be hindered by the fact that you require an external power source so its more suitable for the home or office], Spectranet (I hear they’ve got very good coverage in Ikorodu), DoPC (Unwired), Mobitel (4G)

There are others (Linkserve, Galaxy, iWay Africa…) but they mainly have companies and government establishment as clients and will usually have to install a flying saucer on you premises.

Above all, all we advice you do before going ahead with subscribing with any of the Telecoms companies we mentioned above is that you

(1) Consider your Pocket Size (Money)

(2) Which device are you planning on using to browse or connect to the internet

(3) Your location (which is very important in this part of the world or you will be left with some blinking lights and no/sluggish connection)

(4) Have them bring the device to your location to test the speed and coverage. Spectranet does this so you might want to consider them (Please note we are not employees or fan of any other companies we have mentioned).

(5) Lastly, what plan will suit you. You can choose between a plan with a download cap or one with an unlimited cap (I would recommend an unlimited cap for those who download movies, games and all sort).

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