How poor internet networks threaten virtual classes, businesses in Oye Ekiti

By Faith Omoniyi


IN 2020, COVID-19 virus halted major activities in Nigeria– and globally. Then academic institutions resorted to organising online classes to teach students, filling up the gaps of the semester.

Federal University Oye-Ekiti, like other higher institutions of learning, commenced its online classes on Telegram, a messaging application. However, the impact of this new development was threatened by the network service operating in the varsity’s host community.

Timothy Adegoke, a 300 level Business Administration student, said he had been affected by the extremely poor network in Oye several times.

“My 3G phone made my experience more frustrating. One of my horrible experiences was during the first semester period after the COVID-19 long term break, most lecturers were directed to take their classes online during this period.


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“The poor network prevented me from attending those online classes and the attendance was compulsory.

“My failure to mark those attendance due to the poor network in my environment had an effect on continuous assessment which in the long run affected my aggregate score for the course.”

The poor network service also prevented Adegoke from writing tests because he missed the announcement circulated online.

Adegoke said the bad network service had left several students stranded and prevented them from undertaking research for their assignments.

“Oftentimes, when I want to use YouTube to see some academic clips, the poor network has always been a barrier.

“While my counterparts in other schools have gone far with their learning, my inability to have access to some certain academic resources have actually limited my progress as an undergraduate in one way or the other,”  he said.

A report by the Ekiti State government shows that there are about 136, 800 Oye indigenes residing in the Oye community. Given these numbers, the network mast is under-serving the students and indigenes inclusive.

General effects of the poor network in rural school communities

According to a report by Michigan State University in March 2020, “only 47 per cent of students who live in rural areas have high-speed Internet access at home compared to 77 per cent of those in suburban areas. Of those who do not have home access, 36 per cent live in a home with no computer and 58 per cent live on a farm or other rural setting.”

Also, in September 2020, The Higher Education confirms that “52 per cent students said that a slow or unreliable internet connection hampers their learning which makes it slow to learn.”

Poor networks disrupt business growth

Not only the students, businesses and banking operations face similar threats.

The reporter observed that some businesses prefer the use of certain mobile networks to others, but overall there is no preferred choice of network.

Akinbote, a POS business owner, laments: “There is no preferred choice for the network. I have a variety of sims that I use and I switch between them. Sometimes I make use of Airtel, other times I switch to MTN”

“I have up to three sims – MTN, Glo, and Airtel for running my business. I switch between the three for the most favourable one. When the internet on one is not working, I quickly move to the next. None of these networks can be relied on, sometimes you feel MTN is good and it messes you up,” said  Adekunle, who runs a similar business.

Moses, a chemist who resides nearby university’s mini campus area, shares his experience.

“When I got to this community, the network was really bad. And comparing the situation then with now, there has been no positive change in the state of the network. The network state has remained the same.”

Moses attributed the poor state of the network in the community to the agrarian nature of Oye Ekiti.

“People came over from different towns to come and farm here, and when they are living in their respective towns they tell their people that they are going to the farm and they may spend up to 2-3 weeks here. Oye was that rural,” he said.

“Back then when we recharge our sim cards, it takes days before we get notification, ”  Mr. Moses said.

Ayina, who lives around the school junction area, corroborated the experience.

“Before the establishment of the university in Oye, the network used to be very bad. After the establishment of the school, the network situation improved just a little bit, but not too good to serve us.”

Students decry bad network service

Since the university introduced online classes, learning experience has been difficult in Oye Ekiti.

Temitayo Fagbola, a lecturer who participated in the online classes, lamented how the poor network situation hampered the smooth running of lectures.

“The connection was very poor. We were practically unable to successfully hold a virtual class due to poor network”, he said.

“Most of the students couldn’t access Internet due to poor or weak interconnectivity”, he surmised.

Mirani Eunice, a 400L undergraduate of Computer science said, “My online class experience was tiring. I and a few other students had to go sit under a tree where we could get a paltry amount of internet service each time we had online lectures or when we had to get information about our classes or to submit assignments. It was so draining for us”

“Network service is most of the time, slightly less than average. Sometimes, it’s just average.

“It’s only good enough for a few specific network providers-Airtel and MTN. But mostly Airtel.”

“I moved to Aiyegbaju due to the poor network service in Oye because I am a student as well as a remote worker and I need a high-speed internet for my work. Aiyegbaju has enough internet to meet my work needs,’’ a student said.

Abraham Arewe, a 400L student of Industrial Chemistry said, “When I was doing my pre-degree in 2017, the network was really good, I could make calls from my room and download videos as I wanted. But as I progressed into 100L when new students were admitted, the network suddenly became bad, I could barely make calls from my room without it breaking”.

Many failed transfers are often reported among students. Speaking with a 400L student, Bayo Adepoju said “I once made a transaction via POS and I was debited twice due to the network.”

Expert comment






     

     

    A network expert Tolulope Olabisi said that a number of factors could contribute to the poor network service experienced in the region.

    “The kind of infrastructure used might determine, the kind of equipment used, the height of the mast. Also, the network providers determine what they provide each area, depending on the commercial activity in that area. Are they generating so much money for them to spend on higher types of equipment that would generate more”

    There are about five masts in the Oye community belonging to different telecommunication agencies- two MTN masts, one Airtel mast, one Glo mast, and one Mtel mast.

    Of the five telecommunication masts listed above, four of them are in good working conditions. Mtel mast no longer functions.

     

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    3 COMMENTS

    1. As good as this write up is, the portion that said this, I’ll love you to investigate that too, it’s not a factual statement. I stand to tell you that network was better, only that we ran a 2G/3G network back then.

      Before the establishment of the university in Oye, the network used to be very bad.

    2. This is a very good article that represents the true experience of students and citizens living in the Oye community.

    3. This is true and it continues to be very disheartening that no matter how much this issues are reported, things have never gotten better. And so many people have gone so wide and far by travelling to nearby towns to use better network for better coverage. But less than 1% of other students only have this access.

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