With over 7.4 million subscribers as of September 2009, MTN is easily Ghana’s leading telecommunications network, offering mobile telephony services, Internet connectivity and more.
I recently picked up an MTN “Exclusive 3G Pack” for 100 Ghana Cedis (about $69) and have used it extensively for about 14 days mainly in Accra. The information below is based on some of my experience using the mobile broadband service.
The 3G pack contained:
Find the technical specifications and some explanation of the USB device, below:
MTN F@stlink software
Installing the device was a fast and straight-forward process. The easy-to-use MTN F@stlink (the dialling software) was soon installed.
MTN F@stlink comes with the following features:
MTN Internet SIM
The special SIM card bundled with the MTN “Exclusive 3G pack” had 2 Ghana Cedis airtime preloaded with amounted to 50MB data. Since this was a special SIM, the Internet tariff is lower, compared to the normal MTN SIMs. In order to compare the data tariff with that of Zain, I loaded 30 Ghana Cedis airtime and the total data derived amounted to 1.2GB. 400MB of data was credited each time I loaded a 10 Ghana Cedis airtime voucher. Note that “Zain Lite” Internet package offers only 1GB of data for 30 Ghana cedis.
The MTN Internet SIM is restricted from making or receiving calls by MTN even though it comes with a regular MTN mobile number. Calling the number, one hears the ringing buzz but there is no reaction on the PC nor any notice of a call. One hears an error message when a call attempt is made from the Internet SIM.
I tried the special SIM on a mobile phone and it worked normally with the exception of not taking nor making calls.
I tested the connectivity from McCarthy Hill area in Accra and experienced a signal strength that varied between 95 and 99%, with real download speeds reaching 1.8Mbps. MTN Ghana’s website www.mtn.com.gh loaded the fastest since they host their own website. Real speeds elsewhere might vary according to the time of day (peak or off-peak period), number of people connected to a particular base station, speed of travel (if the user is in motion), and signal strength.
Much of Accra is covered by MTN’s 3.5G network with EDGE filling the gap in patches without 3.5G. Using the service on the outskirts of Accra where only GPRS is available, speeds did not exceed a meagre 5kbps. This implies that MTN Broadband is best used where there is 3.5G network coverage.
According to MTN Ghana’s website:
MTN 3G service is available in Accra, Tema, Kumasi, Takoradi, Tarkwa, Bogoso, Ho, Koforidua, Cape Coast, Kasoa, Winneba, Tamale, Sunyani, Kenyasi, Techiman, Obuasi, Bolgatanga, Wa, Prestea, Damine, Ntoroso, Bibiani, Besomtwi, Bekwai, Aflao, Chirano and still counting.
In summary, MTN’s Mobile Broadband service is ideal is for home or small business users who have limited data usage but want to experience the high speed 3.5G technology offers. The entry fees are affordable as are the data tariffs. It is advisable to check if your area has 3.5G coverage before getting on board. You can do so by manually scanning the networks from a 3.5G phone.
MTN offers another device for connectivity, aside the USB stick:
3.5G F@stLink Router
MTN 3.5 G F@stlink router is a 3G cellular modem,which has an embedded wireless hotspot, with four Ethernet ports and a traditional phone jack. It is perfect for home or small offices and allows a user to sharea connection with multiple users. The router may also serve as a modem using the USB slot to provide a single connection to the user.
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