How does MTN’s CSD data services fare side-by-side GloMobile’s GPRS offerings? Well, I should know, seeing that I have used both extensively over time.
I will not be comparing WAP services here, as they are pretty limited in use to the business person, but full data services giving you access to the Web, email and FTP etc.
On MTN, you only need pay a one-time fee of N1,500 to be signed up for Enhanced Data and Fax. This is whether you are on prepay or a contract. It makes no difference.
With Glo, you have to be a contract user to get access to full internet access. Minimum initial expenditure: N9,750, plus all the hassles of a contract.
Glo GPRS is charged by the byte (20kobo to 35 kobo per kilobyte) rather than per time, making it generally more cost-effective than MTN’s per second or per minute browsing charges (same as regular call rates). But again on MTN, there are at least 3 BoosterCard options available to help you lower your browsing costs.
MTN runs a CSD platform with speeds limited to 9.6kbps. In practice it works well for retrieving and sending mails and viewing low-bandwidth sites.
Glo touts its GPRS speed at 40kbps. In reality it is much slower – barely faster than a normal CSD connection, and many times just totally unuseable.
Service Availability and Quality
From the experience I have had on both platforms, MTN Enhanced Data/Fax is available everywhere I have been. It does not matter where I am in Lagos, I am able to browse. Last year, I took a trip to and from Warri and it worked flawlessly all through – on the road and at my destination.
The same cannot be said for Glo GPRS however. Even within Lagos, there are very few locations GPRS works. For example, a drive between Ojodu and Surulere is a shocking revelation. The GPRS signal is there, but more often than not it does not work. I won’t even think of attempting a trip to Warri.
Glo GPRS allows you to send and receive Multi-media messages – a souped-up version of SMS that includes audio, video, and animations. On the other hand, MTN Data/Fax gives you fax and data access. You get 2 extra numbers – one for fax and the other for data. Hence, if you use a Communicator like I do, you do not need a fax machine, as the communicator series have it built-in.
Let’s face it, besides the more convenient tariffs on Glo GPRS when and where it works, there is very little difference in what you get from the two networks. In addition, MTN gives you fax alongside Web and email access.
But if my life were to depend on it, I’d choose MTN’s Enhanced Data/Fax. A little more expensive, but it wins by a clear margin when it comes to reliability and availability.