Enextgen Wireless, an engineering company focused on improving the user experience on mobile broadband Wireless Communications, has called on the telecommunications regulator in Nigeria to up its game when it comes to monitoring the quality of Long Term Evolution (LTE) networks deployed by Mobile Network Operators (MNOs) in Nigeria.

Indeed, the independent broadband quality monitoring company has tapped MTN, the largest telecommunications provider, by subscriber base, to improve critical areas of its network services across the country.

Enextgen Wireless delivers customer experience across mobile networks through its flagship National Independent Wireless Broadband Quality Reporting (NIWBQR) product that measures the quality of radio frequency engineering efforts invested in the commercial LTE network.

In the latest report which focuses on the MTN Nigeria LTE network, Enextgen Wireless stated that all covered areas are major population centers, not uninhabited areas where poor quality of coverage might be expected.

Report details:

Poor quality of service in many areas on a typical day

As of January 31, 2022, poor quality of service is demonstrated by several of our probes.

Locations with poor quality of service:

Port Harcourt (River State); Egbeda in Lagos; Yaba to Lagos and Kaduna

Quality Issues at No. 1 Harvey Road, Yaba – Average Latency Chart

Quality issues at No 1 Harvey Road

Garbled voice and numerous reconnections during Microsoft Teams voice call sessions. Delayed delivery of instant messages. Unbearable video conferencing quality.

“This is typical of the quality of service MTN provides to Yaba. It is almost unimaginable to spend 30 minutes on the MTN LTE network without a noticeable disruption in network quality.

“We attributed these disturbances to increased latencies and packet loss due, sometimes, to poor RF quality, but mainly to core network issues. These are all issues that MTN could fix, or at least mitigate, if it saw fit.

Adelphi, Maryland in poorer RF condition than last slide for MTN at Yaba, Lagos – Average Latency Plot in Verizon Wireless

Enextgen Wireless - Adelphine, maryland

We used a similar probe and the same platform used for MTN in Yaba to generate this graph.

Verizon Wireless only has 4G LTE coverage (no 5G) in this location.

The average RSRP in Verizon Wireless at that location was around -110 dBm while the average RSRP in Yaba’s location at MTN was around -105 dBm and that was the worst performance period of the day at that unreliable Verizon Wireless location for internet access.

Typical average latency plot in Verizon Wireless 4G LTE at the same location as the previous slide

Typical average latency

We used a similar probe and the same platform used for MTN in Yaba to generate this graph.

RF quality in bins where packet latency was greater than 250ms as of January 31, 2022

wireless extender

In this example, a poor user experience was not due to RF signal quality, as each of the bins had high enough RF quality for a good user experience.

In other words, core network problems such as congestion or insufficient provisioning of the transport layer are more likely to have been the causes of the poor quality of service.

February 1, 2022 Quality issues in Yaba – Average latency chart

1 Feb  20222

February 2, 2022 Quality issues in Yaba – Average latency chart

Enextgen Wireless - February 2, 20222

February 3, 2022 Quality issues in Yaba – Average latency chart

Enextgen Wireless - February 3, 20222

February 4, 2022 Quality issues in Yaba – Average latency chart

Enextgen Wireless - February 4, 20222

Quality Issues in Yaba, Lagos – Packet Loss

Quality Issues in Yaba, Lagos - Packet Loss

Huge amounts of lost packets have resulted in extremely poor quality of service at this location.

Quality Issues in Kaduna – Packet Loss

Quality Issues in Kaduna - Packet Loss

Quality issues in Ilorin – Ping-pong between LTE and 3G

Quality Issues in Ilorin - Packet Loss

RF was of high enough quality to keep UE on LTE. Alternatively, the EU could simply be kept on 3G. Instead, the EU frequently switched between LTE and 3G, rendering the connection completely worthless.

With any amount of care, MTN could avoid this situation by keeping the EU on one of the two networks. This is usually called RF optimization. For Ilorin, basic RF optimization before deployment seems to be lacking.

Quality issues in Ilorin – RF link failures reflecting very poor RF optimization before deployment

Quality issues in Ilorin - RF

The MTN 4G LTE network in Ilorin appears to be a case of even a superficial pre-deployment optimization that was not done.

How could this have happened? Could MTN get its index from our government? We understand that the regulator is very busy. We do our best to encourage network operators not to take advantage of all the benefits our system offers them at the expense of ordinary human Nigerians and small businesses alike.

Quality issues in Port Harcourt – unnecessary IRAT from LTE to 3G

Quality issues in Port Harcourt - unnecessary IRAT

Good RF quality in LTE. Unnecessary IRATs to 3G contribute to poor quality of service

Poor quality of service in many areas on February 3, 2022

Poor network service in many regions February 3

Commenting on the report, Engineer Aderemi Adeyeye, President of Next Inc., said:

“When we filed a complaint with MTN the speed of response was impressive. However, as far as we can tell, MTN took no action beyond letting us know, the next day they have resolved the issue. We have not received any response to the question of what issue they have resolved and/or what they have done to resolve it. All we know is that the issues we reported persist.

“Honestly, the paternalistic attitude of MTN in response to our complaint has upset us.

“MTN seems to only respond to MTN. The public served (at least ordinary Nigerians and small businesses) have no say. The regulatory agency seems to have little time to spend on quality control given the huge amount of time needed for self-adulation. It doesn’t even acknowledge (on its website) the existence of LTE as a 3GPP standard for 4G.

“The reality of the Nigerian context is that broadband internet access is synonymous with LTE internet access.

“The majority of Nigerians have no other real internet access (we exclude 2G/3G as a medium for high-speed internet access).

“We welcome specific requests for our raw data from MTN if they are intended to improve the quality issues identified in this report.

“The objective is to encourage MTN to improve the quality of its network. Just like millions of other Nigerian individuals and small businesses, we rely on the network for broadband internet connection”.

To view the quality of 4G LTE coverage in Nigeria, visit the site HERE. Enextgen Wireless is constantly adding probes to cover more areas.