LTE Deployment in Nigeria.
In 2018, LTE became generally available in many of Nigerian’s major cities. All of the four major Communications Services Providers (9Mobile, Airtel, Globacom and MTN) have deployed 4G LTE in substantial parts of major cities such as Lagos, Ibadan, Abuja, Benin and others. NIWBQR reports are available for Lagos Island, Victoria Island, Ikeja and Lagos Mainland in Lagos and the major business districts in Abuja, Ibadan and Benin City.
Enextgen tested the quality of RF deployment in each of these markets. This report provides some general comments on our findings.
Table 1: which shows the rank of the service providers tested in the locations evaluated.
We based our rankings on a measure of the quality of RF deployment that takes into account weighted averages of failure events (Connection Establishment Failures and Connection Drops), latency, throughput, throughput distribution and consistency of LTE coverage along the evaluated routes.
As shown in Table 1 above, Glo had the best rank in Victoria Island, Lagos Island and Benin. Glo had the best RF coverage in every cluster tested. MTN had the best rank in Abuja, Ikeja and Lagos Mainland but the worst in Victoria Island and Lagos Island. Smile was ranked highest only in Ikeja. It used to be best in Lagos Island but the quality of its network there had degraded since the last time it was tested. The highest ranking for 9Mobile was Third and this was only in Benin. Highest ranking for Ntel was Third and this was in Abuja, Ikeja and Victoria Island.
Every service provider appears to put its best foot forward in Lagos Island and Victoria Island. Every Service Provider had good LTE coverage with Glo offering best coverage and quality of RF deployment. There was a wide variation in RF deployment quality among the other networks, with each of them having some level of RF deployment deficiencies.
Table 2: The Table shows some KPIs of the SPs for the Victoria Island Drive Route.
The quality of RF deployment was very bad in all of the networks evaluated. None of the networks appeared to have paid attention to basic RF deployment engineering quality in this area.
Table 3: The Table shows some KPIs of the SPs for the Lagos Mainland Drive Route.
MTN stood out as having the best RF deployment quality, Glo had the best RF coverage. However, along with the others, it had sub-optimal RF quality of deployment.
Table 4: The Table shows some KPIs of the SPs for the Abuja Drive Route.
LTE service was available from Glo and Smile only, as of September 2017. The quality of RF deployment was poor in both networks.
Progress is being made in expanding LTE coverage in Nigeria. In general, Glo has better RF coverage than MTN but poorer RF quality. This appears to be due to deliberate lack of concern for the quality of LTE service offered to the public by Glo. Furthermore, by seemingly arbitrarily reducing maximum offered throughput, the overall ranking of Glo’s LTE networks has been lowered. Where a peak throughput of upwards of 68 Mbps was recorded in Glo network in 2017 and earlier in 2018, that value has been reduced to about 10 Mbps by the end of the year. Simultaneously, Glo seems to have improved its latency substantially, a very positive step that should have given it legs up over MTN but for the lowering of offered throughput.
MTN and Airtel have done a good job in offering to the public, networks that do not have glaring RF performance issues. Glo, Smile and 9Mobile appear to have done the exact opposite. These three networks appear to, very likely, have been deployed without even the most basic pre-deployment RF optimization. The result is clustered connection failures and avoidable connection drops.
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