The Evolution of Mobile Phones in Nigeria
Mobile phones in Nigeria started from a point. Although communication existed before their advent in the country, the coming of cell phones transformed the entire process of sharing information and messages.
In this article, we’ll look at the rise of mobile phones in Nigeria – from the period it became official in the country to now that it’s nearly impossible to meet a Nigerian without one.
Life before Mobile Phones in Nigeria
To communicate with a fellow Nigerian, you needed NITEL. And NITEL operated on large telephones connected by wires that ran via their connections. If you used this service alongside the telephones, you received monthly bills which you must pay to continue to enjoy access to the service.
Whenever someone dials a number (which consisted of 9 digits), the phone produced a resounding ringing sound. There was a unique area code for each city. When you move to a new city, you are required to get a new telephone number and install a new telephone line if there isn't already one in the new home or apartment. If there isn't one, you must pay for both of these services.
The 2001 Disruption
We are now in 2001. The disruption takes place this year. Mobile network service providers design masts and begin to install them throughout Nigeria's urban and rural areas. MTN (originating in South Africa), Glo (owned by a Nigerian), and Econet (which would eventually become Celtel, Zain, and then Airtel — originating in Asia) are the revolution's major players.
Now that’s not all. It is in this same year that mobile network masts spring up all over the country, to the delight of Nigerians.
Internet in 2003
And by 2003, the network service providers started offering internet services. If you wanted to access the internet during this time, the only way you could do so was through the General Packet Radio Service (GPRS). This was a service that was always available, but it was also slow compared to the other upgrades.
Upgrade from GPRS to 2G, 3G, and 4G networks
An upgrade was bound to happen eventually. Mobile phone makers gradually stepped up their game and began releasing mobile phones that are compatible with Edge networks. From there, 2G was introduced, followed by 3G. And since 2021, the minimum network capability of any new mobile phone sold in Nigeria is 4G.
Mobile phones would not evolve without add-ons known as software applications shortened as apps or mobile apps. These mobile apps grew rapidly from serving basic functions such as calendar and contact databases to advanced capabilities in areas such as mobile games, factory automation, GPS and location-based services, order-tracking, and ticket purchases.
Presently, there are millions of apps available on app stores. Consequently, many apps require Internet access. To download an app, you need to go on digital distribution platforms which are commonly referred to as app stores.
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