This is the information age. Or the computer age or information era. Whatever you choose to call it, the whole point of the current age is to have instant access to knowledge. Easy, right? Then why, why, WHY was (is) it so difficult for me to get (and stay) online?
Let me explain…
We have wireless internet at home, courtesy of the Hub’s work. However, it is extremely slow and doesn’t always work. It was irritating me to no end and I couldn’t take it anymore. It was ridiculous. In this day and age, how could I not have internet access? I had resorted to browsing on my BlackBerry, which isn’t ideal (obviously) and when I decided I was going to set up this blog, I did that on my BB too! After about 4 – 5 weeks without internet access, I had a meltdown and the Hub said he would get me an MTN F@stlink USB thingy (Technical term? Anyone?).
I was SO excited on the day he was bringing it home, I could barely contain myself! That was short-lived. He forgot. Oh well. What was one more day?
He did bring it home the next day 🙂 I snatched the box from him, opened it and shoved the USB in the port. I had already bought some credit for it as it’s a pay-as-you-go thing (more on that later!). It didn’t work. EH? WHAT? WHY? I really don’t know much about these things, so I didn’t know… But I needed a SIM card to put in it. I thought I might cry. Anyway, what was one more day?
So the next day, he bought me the SIM card and sent it home to me at about 11am. YIPPEEEE! Inserted the SIM, put the USB in my laptop. It STILL didn’t work! I just couldn’t understand the problem! Then I was told that all SIM cards have to be registered at their various service centres. It doesn’t matter what network you’re on, the SIMs have to be registered. Of course they do. This is Nigeria. Why would anything be straightforward or simple?
*Swearing while remembering the headaches*
I went immediately to register my SIM – filled in a form, they took a copy of my passport (since I’m a foreigner) and they took a picture of me. Apparently this is to help reduce fraud. I still don’t see it…
Right – so, it was all done. Came home and loaded my N500 (approx £2) credit and I was online. The relief that flooded through me! I had Twitter and Facebook open for ages. Ohhh, how I had missed them. My N500 was meant to last me 24 hours. But it didn’t. I think it lasted about 5 hours in total. And the next day, the same thing happened! Eventually I told the Hub that my credit was running out too quickly. He looked through the ‘Bundle Plans’ and explained…
Basically, my N500 was not guaranteed to last me 24 hours, because the download limit on it was 150MB. I told him that I hadn’t been downloading anything. That didn’t matter. If you have sites like Twitter and Facebook open – that are always refreshing and updating, it counts. *FAINT*.
We looked through the Bundle Plan options again and thought about what was the best option for me. I told him, ideally, I’d like to just be connected all the time. It’s very normal to do that! But from looking at the plans – it wasn’t going to be possible.
So we decided to go for a Time Based Plan, rather than a Volume Based Plan. 100 hours, valid for 30 days for N5000 (£19.42). Great! No. Not so great. The credit loaded without a problem. But it wouldn’t let me select that plan! And we tried and tried and tried.
The next morning, we went to the MTN service centre. There were lots of people waiting, but they saw us immediately. The guy checked how much credit I had. Yes, yes – N5000 – I just told you that. And then he asked what the problem was… I explained.
<Ohhhh! That plan isn’t working? Ok, I will select another one. Ohhhh! None of the time-based plans are working? Until when? No one knows? Wonderful. Thank you for your help.>
So I have ended up paying N8000 (£31) for the 5GB “24/7” Plan. It’s been 10 days so far. And I don’t understand how to work out how much time I have left…
So I don’t use Twitter on my laptop. I open Facebook fleetingly. I am STILL using my BlackBerry for these! And if I have to go anywhere or do anything – even for a second, I disconnect first! The baby’s crying? Hang on! I’ll just disconnect first! What century am I living in, anyway?
Then I started wondering about how much other people over here pay to ‘get connected’. I was pretty shocked when I heard.
One friend pays N15,950 (£62) a month. She gets unlimited downloads, but in her words, ‘The speed is shit.’ And by the way, this amount isn’t for wireless connectivity, it’s for the USB thingy.
Another friend pays N30,000 (£116.50) a month (supplied by his apartment block). It’s wireless and includes (and I didn’t understand this – maybe you will) 256 upload/512 download kbps. He said it was ‘average speed’. And there’s a limit! If you want to download more, you pay extra.
Someone else pays N10,000 (£39) a month. And her plan is from 9am – 9pm. Again, not wireless, but the USB.
The prices are beyond belief. Especially for what we’re getting for it!
But what else are we to do?