-By Oriade Ayomide

spectranetIt was in 2009. Spectranet Nigeria Limited was awarded a licence by the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) to operate internet and broadband services pan Nigeria. Everything went well as, about 3 years later, they launched their services based on the wimax technology. They won over many subscribers who had hitherto had tales of woe to tell about their previous Internet Service Providers (ISPs). Subscribers were happy and Spectranet smiled happily to the bank…until August 2013! In August of last year the company commenced an upgrade project to join the league of 4G Long Term Evolution (LTE) internet wireless Broadband ISPs. They sought to be pioneers in this new well tested and reliable technology in Nigeria.

   According to Atul Ojha, the Chief Operating Officer of Spectranet the LTE network would allow users to stream movies, music, pictures among others at a faster speed. He explained that “4G LTE, Internet Wireless Broadband Network has been making giant strides globally and was  now being introduced into Nigeria. Ojiha enthused that the LTE technology had registered highest growth globally across various platforms and offers cutting edge experience to users It is the most advanced technology which is fast and reliable.”

   According to explanations on Spectranet’s website “4G-LTE refers to the fourth generation of wireless standards. Benefits of the 4G LTE includes: Faster download and upload speed to meet the upcoming application demands & excellent user experience. Lowest latency compared to all wireless technologies, which is very essential for real-time applications, Like real time gaming, online transactions etc.

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   There is however something wrong in the way Spectranet went about upgrading its network. The first shocker for its subscribers was that they were rudely switched off the network for days without prior notice by the company in their attempt to effect a full cut-over. The angry subscribers responded with a march on their offices at Obalende, Ikeja and Surulere all in Lagos. Office and equipment were vandalized and almost burnt down as the Police had to be quickly called in to stave off further mayhem at their Obalende office sometime in October 2013.

   Spectranet’s LTE has been anything but a ‘cutting-edge’ experience. For users like this writer it has been pure nightmare as me and my colleagues in the office have simply been unable to access the service. The strange thing is that most of the time our systems will be showing that we have full service but when we attempt to go on the net it keeps us hanging. Our admin manager has been a constant caller and visitor to their Surulere office but there has been no respite as Spectranet’s staff keep recycling one excuse after the other.

    Whenever we call the customer care centre to report this persistent poor service, the response we get is ‘your complaints has been passed to the technical department’ and they would get in touch with you. This acclaimed technical department won’t call back until after about a week only give us a routine we usually do in-house without being told; ‘switch off your modem and put it on few minutes later’.

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After weeks of persistent complaints, we were asked to bring our old modem in exchange for a new one which according to them has a stronger signal receptive feature. Yes, the signal on the new modem is always full but the poor service quality continues….same old story.

   As part of their upgrade measure, Spectranet decided to introduce data cap for their service. They claimed they could no longer sustain the unlimited data they were offering us adding that it had also contributed to their erratic service problem. Meanwhile, it took another frustrating visit to their office to know about this, as they have this bad culture of not providing their customers a prior notice of impending upgrade or ‘innovations’ on their network.

   One would have thought that this (data capping) would help but again it failed! We could not even exhaust the 20 gigabits we are being given monthly for N15,000! The Spectranet service in my office has continued to be a disaster! We have been surviving on modems of mobile companies and now contemplating on going back to the network we shelved for this wobbling Spectranet. 

   Other excuses churned out by Spectranet had been that they there was a problem with their service equipment in the Surulere axis which they promised will be rectified within days. As the days rolled into weeks, we paid yet another visit to their office at 122, Bode Thomas Street, in Surulere only to be told that they had a general problem. Ever since, it is either they tell us that they have a problem in Surulere or that it is a general problem; the only exception being that they will sometimes insist that all was well in their own office but on one occasion when we went there after such an assertion, we met an angry crowd and alas the problem was also experienced at their office; meaning they had been lying to us! How bad can it get Spectranet?

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   If this shambolic service is what Spectranet refers to as brand upgrade, then they have successfully laid a perfect example of how not to upgrade a brand. At our last weekly meeting, we finally took the inevitable but long over-due decision to switch over to another ISP. I just hope we do not also regret it.