Nigeria is one of the most vibrant mobile markets in the world. This page provides quick and comprehensive facts about mobile in Nigeria, including networks, services, and more. The sections include a history of mobile technology in the country.

History of Mobile in Nigeria

The first mobile cellular services began in 1993 with Mtel, but it was elitist and restricted in every way. Later, other CDMA operators offered limited mobile phone services as a small segment of their bouquet of services.

Widespread mobile services however took off in August 2001 after the country’s telecoms regulator, the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), issued GSM licences to new operators. . Each of the operators paid a $285m licence fee. The licensing threw up 3 operators – ECONET Wireless (now Airtel Nigeria), Mtel (a subsidiary of the state-owned NITEL), and MTN.

ECONET Wireless launched the first commercial GSM services in Nigeria. In a few years, Nigeria was toasted everywhere as one of the fastest-growing mobile markets in the world. Before the 2001 licensing of GSM operators, Nigeria had a total of about 450,000 connected telephone lines. Most of those lines were analogue.

mobile operators in Nigeria

Glomobile, the mobile arm of Globacom, Nigeria’s Second National Operator (SNO), took off in August 2003. By 2004, Nigeria had over 7 million telephone subscribers. Etisalat (now 9mobile) Nigeria took off in January 2007.

Nigeria has since overtaken South Africa to become Africa’s largest mobile market. As at 2018, the country had recorded over 100 million active telephone lines. But the GSM operators did not only bring a revolution in voice and SMS. They quickly became the driving force that produced an Internet revolution in the country.

Mobile In Nigeria: GPRS Internet

As part of its 1st Anniversary celebration, Glo Mobile launched GPRS based services on August 29th, 2004. GPRS is a packet-based 2G technology that offered faster internet connectivity than circuit switched data (GSM dial-up).

Mobile in Nigeria: 3G Internet

In 2007, four applicants were successful in obtaining a 10 MHz lot each in the 2 GHz band for third generation (3G) mobile services. The successful operators were:

  1. Alheri Engineering. Later sold license to Etisalat (now 9mobile)
  2. Celtel Nigeria (now Airtel)
  3. GloMobile
  4. MTN Nigeria Communications

In early 2008, GloMobile launched the first commercial 3G service on their UMTS/HSPA network, followed closely by MTN. Alheri later sold their 3G licence to Etisalat (now 9mobile), which rolled out their service in 2011.

Mobile in Nigeria: (DVB-H/Mobile TV

At the moment, only MTN and GloMobile offer mobile TV (DVB-H) services in the country. They both have Dstv Mobile service available to subscribers with type handsets.

Mobile In Nigeria: 4G LTE


The country has a growing 4G broadband sector that is latching on LTE technology. Some service providers started out running WIMAX technology, but have switched to LTE. In 2016, the mobile operators began to launch 4G LTE networks across the country and all of them offer commercial 4G service today. Here is a constantly updated list of active 4G networks in Nigeria.

Mobile In Nigeria: Smartphone Users

There were an estimated 15-20 million smartphones in use in the country as at December 2014. As at September 2016, it is estimated that there are 22 million smartphones in use (see: Nigeria Smartphone Penetration [September 2016]). And in 2018, there were 38 million smartphones in use in the country.

Mobile in Nigeria

Mobile in Nigeria: Internet Configuration Settings

If you ever need to manually configure your mobile for web browsing, here are settings for Nigerian mobile networks.

Airtel Nigeria

  • Account Name: Airtel Mobile Internet
  • Access Point Name (APN):
  • Username: internet (or blank)
  • Password: internet (or blank)
  • IP Address: none
  • Port: none

Glo Nigeria

  • Account Name: Glo High Speed Internet
  • Access Point Name (APN): gloflat
  • Username: flat
  • Password: flat
  • IP Address: none
  • Port: none

Smile 4G Nigeria

  • Proxy : Nil (No proxy needed)
  • APN Name: internet
  • Password: Nil (No password needed)
  • IP Version: IPv4

NOTE: User must attempt to scan manually for the LTE network, which is SMILE NG or 62127.

MTN Nigeria

  • Account Name: MTN GPRS
  • Access Point Name (APN):
  • Username: web
  • Password: web
  • IP Address:
  • Port: 9201 (for WAP) or 8080 (for HTML)


  • Account Name: 9mobile
  • Access Point Name (APN): 9mobile
  • Username: none
  • Password: none
  • IP Address: none
  • Port: none

Mobile In Nigeria: Mobile Network Codes

You’ve seen those numbers, 0814xxxyyyy, 0909yyyxxxx, etc, and wondered which network owns which. Now, you can know. Note though that because of Mobile Number Portability (MNP), users are able to migrate a particular number from its native network to another. So, network codes don’t necessarily tell all any more.

0701 Airtel
07025 Visafone
07026 Visafone
07028 Starcomms
07029 Starcomms
07027 Multi-Links
0703 MTN
0704 Visafone
0705 Globacom
0706 MTN
0707 ZoomMobile (formerly Reltel)
0708 Airtel
0709 Multi-Links
0802 Airtel
0803 MTN
0804 MTEL
0805 Globacom
0806 MTN
0807 Globacom
0808 Airtel
0809 9mobile
0810 MTN
0811 Globacom
0812 Airtel
0813 MTN
0814 MTN
0815 Globacom
0816 MTN
0817 9mobile
0818 9mobile
0819 Starcomms
0902 Airtel
0903 MTN
0905 Globacom
0909 9mobile

Mobile In Nigeria: Network Frequencies

If roaming to Nigeria, or intending to import GSM mobile phones into the country, be sure to note the following specifications required for the Nigerian market:


Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) is the industry regulator in Nigeria. Official Website.

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By Mister Mobility

Nigeria's foremost tech blogger and smartphone reviewer. Call me Daddy.

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