Unlimited Data Plans: Are They Realistic in Nigeria?

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If there is one thing the 86 million Nigerians connected to the internet desire most, it is unlimited internet access. There are so many downloading to be done and so many sites to visit. There are also groups of Nigerians that believe they can make wealth via the internet and the only thing limiting them is the limited nature of their available internet data.

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Many internet service providers in Nigeria have made efforts to provide abundant data services, but the data they provide is rarely enough to meet the needs of many Nigerians that would love to be consistently online. And where huge amount of data is available, it is always very expensive.

This write up will look at the present state of Nigerian data plans and take a foray into the possible future.

In times past, Nigerians had to pay heavily for internet data. In those days, Airtel data plan was the cheapest; one could make subscription for 250MB at the rate of N1000. MTN and Globacom did not come close.

Then came Starcomms and others offering higher data plans, but it is unfortunate that their networks were consistently fluctuating.

Then came Etisalat in 2008 offering something far better than all other networks they met on ground. To make matters even more interesting, Etisalats internet connectivity, other than being cheap, was also very fast and far more consistent than what MTN and Globacom were offering. Many Nigerians ported without delay to Etisalat.

The power of competition forced the other internet service providers out of their shells to start providing better internet services at cheaper rate to Nigerians. Globacom made things somewhat better for all via their Glo 1 submarine cable that brought faster internet to Nigeria.

NiTel came into the picture with their 4G LTE internet service. Many thought it was going to be offered as unlimited data plan, but were shocked when NiTel announced their considerably expensive rates. Spectranet, SWIFT, Smile, IPNX, et al could not provide unlimited data via their broadband internet services.

The internet service providers made attempt to outdo one another by providing free Megabytes of data on airtime recharge, but this was rarely enough for Nigerians. In recent times anyway, data services had been better and cheaper, Nigerians can buy 1 Gigabyte of data at the rate of N1,000. A network like MTN even gives 1GB of data at the rate of N500 if you migrate to their MTN Pulse plan.

Something Similar to Unlimited Data Plan

The only source of unlimited data plan in Nigeria is Wi-Fi. Many institutions, both public and private, have Wi-Fi installed and it is available to their registered members only within the premises of the institution.

While the data service may not be free, it provides unlimited data connectivity to Nigerians. All you need is to get the password and start browsing. However, this is highly limited and only a minute number of Nigeria’s internet-connected population has access to it.


With the present situation of things, Nigerians should forget about unlimited data plan for now. None of the internet service providers in Nigeria seems to be ready to provide such service. They may however change their minds in the future, most especially if they are driven to do it by intense competition.

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