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Data Quality in Nigeria: who will save the day?

The fall of data quality

How long does your “monthly” data subscription last? Okay, let’s go back to the basics. Due to the increasing need for virtual interactions and internet usage as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, 3 of Nigeria’s biggest network providers experienced a tremendous increase in the number of internet subscribers during the 1st quarter of 2020 compared to that of 2019 ( 1194% increase for Globacom, 55% increase for Airtel and 19% increase for MTN), while 9moblie continued its decline from 3 years ago losing about 300,000 subscribers. As the revenue of these companies skyrocketed, nothing prepared Nigerians for the data nightmare that was to come.

Nigerians, left with no choice, began adjusting to the new normal of social distancing and working remotely. This led to an increasing need for data to engage virtual tools and software as these were the only way to keep busy and connect with co-workers, friends, and family. As time went on, Nigerians began noticing some changes. First, special data offers were cancelled. Later, even with the increased amount of data subscribed for, data started lasting for shorter periods of time. Initially, this was ignored by many Nigerians as many attributed it to their increased online activities. Eventually, it became blatant that the quality and quantity of data given by these network providers were no longer what it used to be. It felt as though the more data that was purchased, the faster it finished.

Although these network providers saw a surge in revenue in Q1 2020 from that of 2019, they complained that their revenue is currently under intense pressure. Value Added Tax (VAT), which took effect on the 1st of February 2020, was increased to 7.5%, voice revenue, which makes up the bulk of total revenue, is currently under threat and dwindling as subscribers now make more use of digital channels to communicate and the increase in data subscription may not offset this difference.

Who will save the day?

Internet service providers such as Smile, Spectranet, Tizeti, Swift, and NTEL are fast becoming strong rivals. Tizeti, so they say, is currently the only one offering unlimited data plans with no fair usage policy, no data cap and no data throttling, but many claimed to have gone through a horrible experience trying to use their products. The traditional network providers, except MTN, all lack unlimited data plans which are highly sort after and even that given by MTN comes at a high cost and with a data cap after which the network speed drops drastically.


The hallmark of a good business outfit is to identify a problem and solve it at the cheapest cost possible. I have said ‘cheapest cost’ because the majority of Nigerian consumers are very low-income earners who cannot afford luxury products. The ultimate curve here would have to be on turn out from affordable prices. Network providers must be proactive and aware that these changes are here to stay. Cost structure should be re-evaluated, and more flexible data plans should be created. NCC must regulate data less the quality of life in Nigeria would be worse than it is now. The quality and quantity of data must be improved upon, challenges notwithstanding. Nigerians are not asking for free data, but reliable and affordable data services. Let them have it for crying out loud

 De critic is a leading Critic, Copywriting & Media PRs agency awarded one of Nigeria’s top 10 best by Sortlist International. Born from a near-death experience over a bad product/brand, De Critic was born to do two things – 1. Critique on brands, lifestyle, music and movies, and 2. help good brands do their copywriting and PR. De Critic, turning words into gold for you. –


45 Responses

  1. For a long time telecommunications companies have provided somewhat a fluctuating internet supply, but now with that situation of things and this current need to be online has showed us that there is a much needed increase in the quality and quantity of internet provided.
    Well-done Decritc for regularly addressing these issues

  2. For a long time telecommunications companies have provided somewhat a fluctuating internet supply, but now with that situation of things and this current need to be online has showed us that there is a much needed increase in the quality and quantity of internet provided.
    Well-done Decritc for regularly addressing these issues

  3. On point as usual. Keep it up Nenye! Despite the fact that internet providers are the highest gainers in this pandemic, their rip – off on the consumers continued unabated. Some service providers that are not gaining as much as internet providers are giving palliatives, incentives and other things but their own is to make life harder. NCC and other govt agencies are not for us, after all, they don’t buy data like us.

  4. This is true. I’ve noticed quite a sharp decrease in data qualityand just like the article said earlier it used to be we blaming it on increase in internet activities and social interaction but really data quality has just become terrible. How about you just become reliable, fast, no gimmicks, no antics, just real data, affordable data with good quality. I think Nigerians want that and can afford that and should be given that just like it is with the power sector, DisCo’s are giving us terrible light and in the parts where they give us good light sometimes it is really tampered such that it becomes very expensive. For the sake of good let’s do things right now. The NCC should actually be interested in things like this, regulating bodies generally should always take interest in stuff like this. Why? because they take interest in things like increment of tax, increment of stamp duties, increment of all sorts of VATs and charges here and there but things that directly ease human life and the day-to-day life of the average Nigerian, they barely act. Mind you Glo comparatively gives the cheapest plans and quality in my opinion and those talks of their network being bad is largely exaggerated and somewhat false.

    • Thank you Mann. You hit the nail right on the head. Regulators are mostly concerned with obligations that require them taking from these companies and ignore those that help to improve our lives. True Glo gives the cheapest data plans, but from experience, I can say its quality depends on your location in the country. They are also improving on it and trying to ensure connectivity nationwide

  5. Very nice write up. But then nobody can save the day. We individuals can only do our best by minimising the various sites we enter. If they won’t add any value then let’s not waste our data going there because waiting for NCC or even FG to do something about the situation will end up in utter disappointment as nothing will be done.

  6. I read through and saw internet service providers like Tizeti, Smile etc

    I use dotmac, an innovative internet provider company with fantastic customer service, unlimited data plans with excellent speed.

    My internet speed plan is doubled from 3mbps to 6mbps every night from 12am and during weekends.

    Company says it is their way of supporting her customers in this precarious times.

    You need to write about them too. They haven’t failed me.

  7. This is so true and the situation is only going to get worse the way I see it. Nobody actually does a monthly subscription and expects it to last even 3 weeks because no matter how much the data is, some external entity will seem to be sharing said data with you as the data provided is always used up mysteriously. It is really appalling. We can only hope our so called governing bodies look into it.

  8. This matter has been on the table since forever. I believe nothing can be done about it. Network providers give more for less, buh you will regret subscribing to that particular package cos it would be crawling. As this is Nigeria, once data subscription becomes very cheap, just know that we are still being cheated via calls and quantity…Truth is that there is no way around it. I in particular, am very much resigned about the situation. When I can afford to subscribe, I do. When I can’t, I don’t. I can’t come n kee myself.

  9. Very important subject. This issue demands urgent attention as the ravaging covid-19. The mantra, “data is life” is very true. What the people need to communicate, get a job and make money should be made cheap and durable.

  10. Good write up. NCC can help if they want to do their work. One of their functions include to protect and promote the interest of consumers against unfair practices of the telecommunications companies.

  11. Wonderfully written and astutely articulated. I must confess that the panache with which the article was written makes reading it worth the while. We can only hope and pray that the decadence in the Telecom sector will be adequately addresses. But who will come to the aid of the hoi polloi, who would save the average Nigerian from the clutches of this systemic robbery. May God help us.

  12. This is wonderful. People really have not directed attention to the inverse relation between data prices and its quality. I believe the network providers know the market which they operate in: Oligopoly. They ride on the barriers to entry to do what they want. We should have protection from the authorities but they are already in bed with them.

  13. Lovely and educative writeup. This issue has been going on for ages with no solutions even NCC we are depending on to make things a little pocket friendly are the ones making matters worse.

    • Due to the current surge in internet subscription I believe it would be in place to have an improvement of both the quality and quantity of the internet we receive from these network providers, and for them to put an end to regions having poor connections as people are advised reduce mobility and work remotely..
      Well done Decritic for constantly discussing these issues

  14. NCC cannot regulate anything. Where’s is the issue of MTN vs NCC today? Regarding over N2billion fine imposed on MTN? Under the carpet as usual.

    • Thank you Adesina. But we have to ask ourselves what exactly the problem is and who exactly swept it under the carpet. Is the problem NCC, the industry, the judicial system or all of them.

  15. Thank you Chinenye for the lovely write up as usual.
    I really doubt NCC and the network operators are being considerate of we the users.

  16. This is one topic that cannot be over emphasized. We must have strong regulations in the telecom industry if we are to make any headway.

  17. Absolutely no one can save the day, cuz data this days, is either you get a high quality in small quantity or low quality in large quantity, which isn’t what we want

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De Critic Team
Emmanuel Okonkwo

Emmanuel Okonkwo is a professional content/creative/copywriter; and a critic. He is a published writer internationally and locally; the founder and editor of DeCritic. He holds a bachelor degree in Philosophy & Communications; a diploma degree in Copywriting & Marketing; and others. Crazy right? He has worked for and written for some of the world best marketing agencies, influencers, blogs and magazines. He is unique, rational, fun, radical and balanced.

Chinenye Chukwudebelu

Chinenye Chukwudebelu is a professional copywriter/content writer that enjoys writing about brand's products/services and lifestyles. She is also an investment banker and a data analysis enthusiast. She has a great voice and she is shy.

Tobe Nosike

Nosike, Emmanuel Tobe is a professional compere, a creative writer and a brand/media manager. He is also an IT expert and accountant. He loves creative writings and lifestyle. Tobe is playful yet gentle and stubborn. 

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Chiamaka Ezeonwuka (Dinma Caruso) is a professional digital marketer and blogger. She has an extensive experience in marketing and digital marketing. She is good with people. Chiamaka is a disciplinarian as well as a fun lady. She is blunt, daring, considerate and a goal-getter. 

Felix Echeta

Felix Echeta is a copywriter, video editor, and PR expert with lots of experience to show for it. He is straight-face funny and the spirit of the PR department. Felix is also a blunt writer and he loves to play around with video content.

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