As part of its initiatives to deliver superior and quality services, 9mobile, one of Nigeria’s frontline telecommunication companies, has expanded its 4G LTE service to 16 Nigerian cities and towns, and still counting. The company’s Acting Director, Marketing, Layi Onafowokan, in this interview with CHUKA UROKO, speaks on the benefits of this new initiative. He also speaks on their unbeatable new and enriched data bundles; and explains what makes the 9mobile brand a preferred network and a destination for telecom services users. Excerpts:
The 4GLTE service has become a household name in Nigeria such that everybody talks about it nowadays. What in simple terms would you like users to know about this service?
There is quite a bit of technicality with this subject. However, as you suggested, to put it in lay terms, 4G means ‘fourth generation’, and the term is used to generally refer to cellular communications that offer speed levels that are about 10 times faster than what is obtainable on ‘third generation’ otherwise called 3G networks.
LTE, on the other hand, stands for Long-Term Evolution, which is a measuring standard for benchmarking wireless broadband communication using mobile devices and data terminals. So, taken together, 4GLTE is a mobile broadband internet technology that enables high-speed connectivity on mobile devices and data terminals. It is currently the fastest data network technology commercially available in Nigeria.
Your network recently announced the expansion of 4G into 16 cities across the country. Other networks had launched theirs at various times in the past, why is the 9mobile 4G network different or unique?
Yes, different players in the industry have brought their 4G service to the market, and we launched our 4G in 2018. But to your question of why our 4G service is unique and gives the user more compared to other providers, I will provide you with several reasons.
Firstly, all our SIM cards come 4G-ready and enabled. Unlike other networks, if you are a 9mobile customer, you do not need to get a SIM swap to upgrade your line to enjoy 4G service; and it does not matter for how long you have been using that SIM card. Insert your SIM card in a 4G-enabled device, and you are set up to use 4G.
This is because, even though we joined the industry in 2008 when 3G was what was available, we already set up our network for LTE compatibility. That is why we say we are an LTE-native network. What this means is that whether it is 4G today or 5G tomorrow, we are already set up from the start to evolve along with the prevalent broadband technology of the day.
Secondly, apart from bringing 4G to these new cities, our 4G Internet comes with one of the best Internet speed levels in the market. You can enjoy fast and real-time experience with our Internet service without worrying aboutdelays.9mobile 4G comes with this advantage because of what is called low latency.
Latency in data network terms means the delay time before data transmission begins after the action is initiated. In other words, how long does it take for your YouTube video to start playing after you press the play button? Or how long does it take for a Facebook photo to display after you click to view it? The shorter the time, the better your experience, which is low latency. So, if what you need is high-speed connectivity, you should be on 9mobile.
Thirdly, by intentional design, our network is purposely set up with what the experts call ‘redundancies.’ This is referred to as the allowance you intentionally make to take on emergencies. Redundancies are like spare engines or backup systems. These redundancies were built into our network to guarantee uninterrupted service during downtime situations like the recent West-Africa fiber cuts experienced across the industry. 9mobile was least impacted because our network redundancies kicked in.
Also, we are prioritising network Quality of Service (QoS), Innovation and Customer Experience as part of our new strategic direction. The new financing we received in Q4 of 2019 is allowing us to inject new investments into our network and general infrastructure base. So, our customers are in for a great experience on our network.
How is 9mobile positioning its existing and potential customers to plug into this data revolution you are describing?
As I mentioned earlier, we launched our 4G service in 2018 in select cities. What we are doing now is to expand 4G services into several other cities across the country.
After we broke this 4G expansion message in Lagos on February 24, 2018, we have been in various cities with our 4G LTE Family Funfair to announce the launch and take the message to every nook and cranny.
This expansion is covering cities like Lagos, Ogun (Ifo, Sango-Ota, Akute, among other cities), Abuja, Kaduna, Zaria, Sokoto, Kano, Maiduguri, Awka, Onitsha, Calabar, Enugu, Owerri, Aba, Uyo, Port Harcourt and Jos. If you live in any of these cities and you are yet to see us, then expect us soon, and we are coming with loads of exciting prizes for everyone as we treat you to live entertainment by the best of both national and local artists.
It might also interest you to know that we recently revamped our data packages to give more data volume to our customers for the same price. We did this because, as a caring network, we want our customers to enjoy their data experience to the fullest so that having given them great 4G network, we needed to provide them with more pocket-friendly data to go with it.
What would you say were the factors that determined the choice of cities connected to your 4G network?
If you take a good look at the list of cities, you will observe that we reflected a pan-Nigerian outlook. We ensured to be 4G-live in all geo-political zones of the country. Moreover, we also felt we didn’t have to only be in ‘major’ cities because we did not want anyone to be left behind. We wanted everyone on board, and we will continue to switch-on more cities in due course.
That sounds interesting. But, most times, some customers are constrained by cost of data. Can you shed more light on your new data plans?
We’ve created some unbeatable new data bundles to enrich our overall data offerings. For instance, customers will be enjoying exciting new data plans like 1GB plus free access to social media sites (WhatsApp, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram) valid for one day at just N300. We now have 2GB plus free access to social media sites valid for three days for only N500. With just N1500, we now offer a whopping 7GB plus free access to social media sites valid for seven days. For heavy data customers, we now offer a 30-day 75GB plan plus free night video streaming for only N15,000.
For existing data bundles, customers who purchase N10,000 data plan will now enjoy 40GB plus free night streaming, representing over 150 percent increase from the previous 15GB at the same price. Customers will now get 15GB plus free night streaming for just N5,000; this is over 100 percent increase in data volume from the 7.1GB at N5000 previously, and this increase in value applies to all data bundles in the 9mobile data portfolio – Moreblaze— as we call it.
No doubt, this will be music to the ears of your customers. But what more can subscribers look forward to besides data and quality network?
Our customers come first in all that we do at 9mobile. We are here because they are always there for us. In the spirit of reciprocity, we will be doing quite a bit of giving back to reward loyalty and continued faith in our brand. These rewards can come in the form of giveaways; more value-added services, more efficient processes, and a whole lot more.
As we are widely known for, we will innovate around many of the things we are already doing to make them better and deliver improved value to our customers. We will also create and announce some new firsts soon, especially in reward programmes and products and services. So, I invite everyone to watch our brand very closely as there are very exciting times ahead. An effective way to do this will be to get a 9mobile line if you’ve not had one before or reactivate your idle or existing 9mobile line and start using it again.