appsETISALAT NIGERIA INTRODUCES SMARTPAKS, APPLICATION SPECIFIC DATA PLANS,  Etisalat Nigeria has recently introduced new prepaid data plans dubbed Smartpaks. The smartpaks enable the network’s customers to activate special types of internet access for specific apps on their devices.

App specific data


Etisalat’s touted value proposition for smartpaks is that they will help their customers make smarter data consumption choices.

Any Nigerian who has owned a BlackBerry in the past three years will recognise this one from the myriad BlackBerry special access plans which allowed users enjoy access to various combinations of web, email, IM and social media apps at ostensibly discounted prices. The idea, which Etisalat is now porting to the whole network regardless of device, is that when a customer is subscribed to any of these “paks”, they get unlimited access to therelevant apps for the duration of their subscription. The apps covered fall under three eponymous categories:

Chat pak: Whatsapp, Facebook Messenger, WeChat and 2Go. This pak costs N50 a day or N150 a week;

Social pak: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and BBM. This pak will set users back N100 a day or N300 a week

Video pak: YouTube, Vine, Skype (interestingly) and other video websites are covered by this plan, and attracts a flat fee of N400 for 2 hours of streaming.

Etisalat subscribers can opt into the plan by dialling *200#, typing 3 for the data menu and choosing “Smartpaks”.

Whether they are really economical is however relative. For a data-conscious consumer who doesn’t do much beyond IM and social networking, perhaps. On the other hand, high bandwidth users who might spend up to N10,000 or more on data every month can probably not be bothered in the first place.

I must admit that of all the paks, it is the most interesting to me. Already, I think nothing of streaming video on my mobile data plan, but there might be instances when N400 for two hours might be a better option. Say for that movie or football match that would be better streamed in HD. This of course presupposes that network quality holds up and doesn’t screw with things mid-stream.

If you would use Smartpaks or already have, please tell us why and how it went.

We have now come to end of scheduled programming and are about to go meta on this business. What do net neutrality experts think about all of these? If you know what “net neutrality” means, then you’re definitely welcome to read on.

Content wars

We have been aware of Etisalat’s plans to move into the video-on-demand game since mid-2014, via an impending deal with Dobox, an internet VOD startup. Dobox’s exclusive license to MTN was said to be expiring that year, according to those familiar with the matter. When we asked about the current launch status of “Etisalat Dobox”, an Etisalat representative replied saying “soon…very soon”.

Speaking of content licensing deals, which are increasingly becoming a competitive sport among Nigerian telcos, I couldn’t help noticing the conspicuous absence of a “Music pak” from Etisalat’s new smartpaks. I reckon that has been taken care of by the Spinlet music service. While originally launched exclusively to the Etisalat network in 2013, the exclusive agreement expired in April 2014, paving the way for a new Spinlet/MTN license and data bundle deal. Etisalat reps say the Spinlet music service and data bundles remain to the network’s subscribers via the same designated shortcodes.


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