With GLO, I load and I’m good to go. I hear it’s because the company has upgraded its network for improved services as part of celebrating its 15th birthday
The time was 7.00 p.m. and I was tired and hungry. I knew if I jumped into the shower and proceeded to dinner, sleep would be the logical cap on the day. And sleep was something I could not afford at that point. I had completed my column. I just needed to connect to the hotel Wi-Fi and tap ‘send’ on my laptop. But not tonight. The hotel Wi-Fi was nowhere to be found. I shutdown, restarted, tapped, punched, groaned, hissed, nothing happened.
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My stomach rumbled. My head pounded but nothing impressed the Wi-Fi. I felt like throwing the laptop against the wall, but what purpose would that serve, the remaining sane part of my mind warned gently.
I called my daughter in Lagos, even if it was to bellyache. She knew, from experience, that it was an emergency. Yeah, me not being able to send my column on any Friday evening was a matter of urgent national importance. She tried to calm me down, urged me to call the front desk. I did better. I carried my laptop to the front desk. The guy manning the place took a look at my face and promptly called the hotel’s ICT department. Threats, reassurance and groans later, I was able to send my back page and all was well with the world again.
It turned out that with 65 Editors trying to produce their papers from the same hotel, the Wi-Fi simply succumbed to a nervous breakdown. Imagine!
How did we survive without data, Wi-Fi, network (good and bad) and all other terms and concepts that have since crept into our diction after the deregulation of the telecommunication sector in 2001? The days of NITEL and its men and their tangled and iniquitous wires seem so far in our past. These were the days when only one flat in a block of 12 apartments possessed the all-important black phone box. Everybody queued to receive calls from their loved ones who had to place two calls, one to alert the ‘receiver’ who had to be summoned to wait for the second call which was the real call. And all receivers had to live with the looks of irritation from the owner-of- the-phone flat. The owner’s peace and privacy was perpetually in jeopardy. Who can blame him or his wife for pacing up and down to ‘tell’ the intruding ‘receiver of call’ to round it up?
All that ended when ECONET and MTN broke NITEL’s monopoly and GLO arrived to further deregulate the deregulation with its per-second billing.
By January 19, 2019, Nigeria would mark 18 years of the historic Digital Mobile Licensing round, which ushered in the Global System for Mobile (GSM) communication. The GSM changed many things, indeed everything, from romance to international trade. What used to be tedious has become tender. A man can continue ‘toasting’ a girl far into the night, in his bed, long after he started the process earlier in the day. You can order everything from Chinese slimming tea to a Mercedes Benz G-Wag just by possessing the wizard called GSM in your palms. Of course, you can steal, kill and destroy with these flat palm-held devices too. God forbid I remind you of the mighty men who have fallen via GSM and its seeds. Was it not with this sophisticated witchcraft that virus achieved elegance? Anything can go viral anytime, anyhow. Our deregulated communication brought with it both slings and arrows of outrageous misfortune With just a paltry 450,000 connected lines in 2001 (which we early subscribers bought for as much as N35,000 per sim card), the bug had well over 135 million in its grip by 2014. By 2017, the figure had grown to 144 million, all of them calling, texting and doing everything that once looked like it could never happen in Nigeria. It’s really magic, some sort of ‘white witches’ kind of thing, this GSM thing. Yeah, the millennials may be able to just swing into it. Life, at least in telecoms, was tailor-made for them. Lucky folks, they didn’t have to slowly progress from postage stamps, post office, telegrams, to being able to do virtually everything in bed, holding just a phone. But here we are, everybody living happily ever after since 2001. Not totally, though.
Well, what marriage is without hiccups? The Nigeria-GSM union consummated in 2001 came with its downtime and downsides; dropped calls, poor voice clarity and infringement on subscribers’ right of privacy. The other day, I called someone very dear, a male, but a female voice answered at the other end. As if that was not enough, there was that loud ambulance siren in the background! The only thing that kept me from soiling my lacy knickers was because the guy I wanted to speak with is a medical doctor and ambulance siren was part of the medical register. The call dropped on its own. I dialed again and the doctor picked.
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Whoever picked the first time is known only to the service provider. One of the hypertension-inducing things modern telecoms does to your blood pressure. You call an Igbo man and an Hausa voice picks. These days, if you call me and start speaking Hausa, I do not bother to tell you ‘wrong number’, I simply respond in very concentrated Osun Yoruba.
However, the part of the telecoms revolution I enjoy most these days is the data service delivery. Being able to work on-the-go in my line of business is absolutely joyous. I can send and receive photos, read my letters, download memos and invitation cards, respond to them at airports, anywhere. The video call is the beloved of most mothers. If your daughter is ill and is pretending that all
is well, a video call is all it takes for a mother to know the truth. Mothers know how the lips and eyes of their children look when they are ill. That’s why I love GLO. Sorry, if that sounds like an endorsement. It’s not, after all when the company was picking its GLO Ambassadors, it omitted my name. I’m still vexing over that one. But seriously, I carry two modems everywhere I go; GLO and the other one I won’t mention because it does not work in my father’s compound, a discovery I made on a production day and I had to drive to Kwara State to access my mail. But with GLO, I load and I’m good to go. I hear it’s because the company has upgraded its network for improved services as part of celebrating its 15th birthday. How time flies. Is Nigeria not forever grateful for the per-second-billing that got the other networks to reconsider the holes they were shooting in our pockets? The operator’s 2G and 3G network equipment have been swapped with new and higher capacity technology.
The 4G-coverage is also being extended to several more cities. Must be the reason I can use the provider’s data service everywhere I go. Let me make a confession: I use my GLO to watch movies and it was indeed a mafia documentary marathon that used up my data (because I slept off) and that was why I had to look for the hotel Wi-Fi in the first place. Because sometimes you find yourself in hotels where the highpoint of television entertainment is non-stop Indian or Brazilian movies, my service provider’s data service allows me to watch from my personal playlist. You should try it sometime instead of resigning yourself to infernal boredom. Imagine being able to switch from Odunlade Adekola’s antics to Tyler Perry’s deep family messages and then Gordons and Akpororo’s comedy while you are dressing up for your meeting. Nothing like a good laugh to put you in the right frame of mind for the day, trust me.
I may not understand the nitty-gritty of submarine cable or such complex things as fibre optic and microwave backbone, but I know when a service provider gives me value for my money and in any case, those who understand how cables under the sea work have elected GLO as the 4th Most Admired African brand. If GLO as at July 2018, according to NCC, had 40.3 million out of a total of 144 million subscribers in Nigeria, you do the math and see who the market leader is. And the precocious teenager is still growing.