5 questions you should ask your Internet service provider before purchasing a data plan

When Maslow developed his hierarchy of needs in 1943, he had to no idea that something as trivial as Wi-Fi would one day be extended to his model of human needs. Some of you might even forego your super for mid-night data bundle.

But before you commit yourself to data plan from your network provider, here are some key questions you must ask the sales guy;

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//What is your coverage

Coverage is by far the most important question you should ask. We know that not all parts of Uganda are currently covered by internet providers. It’s useless to buy a data plan only to realize there’s poor or worse no coverage in your area. We recommend that you look at the coverage maps of the provider before committing to purchasing a plan.

Some providers like MTN Uganda have pretty good country-wide network coverage. Remote areas have 2G or EDGE while most towns have 3G. Most parts in Uganda are hooked to 4G LTE. Smile Uganda and MTN Uganda have great 4G LTE coverage in Kampala.

//What speeds am I getting

Besides job loss or suffering from major illness, researchers have discovered that slow internet is a major cause of stress. Snail-slow internet will impede your productivity.  So do this for your health.

Your service provider ofcourse will alledge they provide the fastest internet. Wrong. That’s marketing lingo. Ask your provider the actual speeds that your plan will  avail you. If your provider supports 4G LTE, then your speeds will practically range from 5Mbps – 20Mbps. If it’s 3G, then expect 1-5Mbps speeds.

//What devices do you have

Ask you provider which devices they support on their network. In most cases, you are browsing through your smartphone. Ensure that your smartphone bands are supported by your provider otherwise your phone won’t pick internet. We already listed 4G LTE bands in Uganda here.

Related post:  MiFi vs the router, which internet device should you buy?

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Most providers have a list of internet devices such as tablets,  routers and Mi-Fis. You can take a look at Mi-Fis in Uganda or routers in the market.

//What are the terms and conditions/ Fair Usage Policy (FUP)

If we all read terms and conditions, service level agreements, manuals,  contracts etc, we probably would have got the cure of cancer by now. Chances are, it might be hidden somewhere in there. Unfortunately, you won’t read them them, so we will never know.

Your provider’s T&Cs will catch up with you if you don’t read them. When you suddenly realize the “unlimited” internet package you paid for isn’t really unlimited, or when your speeds are suddenly capped.  If you have subscribed to the “unlimited” plan, find out the data volume at which your speeds will be caped. Find out about validity of the your data volumes, ask if they are carried over to the next billing cycle when they expire. You’ll save yourself rants and unpleasant surprises.

//What’s the cost

This might seem obvious at first, but it’s not. You want to compare data packages across providers before you settle on a single package. This blog has done an impressive job of comparing data prices across providers. Some times the networks bundle packages along with internet devices. You want to consider whether you should buy a bundle or a new device along with data package.

So there you have; 5 questions you must ask your ISP before committing to a data plan. Of course there are more vital ones you should ask. If you know of any, let us know in the comments below.


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