Is Surfline 4G LTE Worth The Hype? (First Impressions)


Spoiler: Yes (If you can afford it)

I’ve been following Surfline Communications for a while now. The company was established in 2011 and has been making promises of delivering 4G LTE to Ghana.

Well, they finally launched this week and I’ve been waiting to get my hands on to test it and see what’s it’s all about.

So, is it the same old “over-promise and under deliver” cycle we’re used to in Ghana or is this something that actually is worth the hype.

Data Bundles and Devices

There are 3 main devices you’ll be looking at purchasing to start browsing on Surfline’s LTE network:

The first device is the Surfline Mifi Device

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Surfline Mifi Device

Device for connecting up to 11 users. But It ain’t cheap. At GH¢555, it’s quite a hefty purchase. But Surfline’s running a cool promo right now where you can get the device for free as long as you pay for the qualifying data bundle of 20GB. We’ll get to the data bundles in a minute.

Surfline USB Modem

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Surfline USB Modem

One of the common devices that most people will use on the go. This is probably the device most people will start looking at purchasing if they want to try surfing on 4G LTE. Again, the price is on the high side at GH¢235. Thankfully, the promo Surfline is running covers this device as well. Just have to purchase the 5GB data bundle and get the device for fee.

Surfline Router

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Surfline Router

Perfect for the home or office. The same issue of high price rears its head again. The device will run you about GH¢855. Your saving grace right now is the Surfline promo: Buy the qualifying data bundle (50GB), get the device free.

Data Bundles

Bottom line is, the devices aren’t cheap. But if you’re buying into a relatively new experience with a premium service, you’re going to have to pay premium prices. So, we’re on to the data bundles.

So you want to get the Surfline Mifi Device for free? That’s going to run you about GH¢205 for the 20GB bundle.

Expensive? Yes. But you do get the device for free which is kind of a plus. Also, you get your data bundle doubled (This gives you 40GB).

You want the Surfline USB ModemGH¢75 for 5GB bundle. Again, your data is doubled. So you’re getting 10GB.

Lastly, the Surfline Router data bundle is GH¢445 for 50GB. Double that data. Get 100GB.

Ok, what about the regular data bundles after you’ve got the devices. Here’s the price breakdown:

1GB Data Bundle — GH¢25

5GB Data Bundle — GH¢75

10GB Data Bundle— GH¢125

20GB Data Bundle — GH¢205

50GB Data Bundle — GH¢445

Testing

To test the Surfline 4G LTE network, I purchased using the Surfline USB modem.

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So, what’s the deal with speed? Is it any good or is this just a ferrari with a normal engine?

I can tell you that it’s fast. Very fast. “Driving down the empty highway in a Lamborghini” type fast.

Check out a couple of the speed tests I run below:

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Test 1
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Test 2

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That’s actually pretty good. I compared them to speeds of Verizon and AT&T.

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AT&T 4G LTE Speedtest
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Verizon 4G LTE Speedtest

Surfline 4G LTE actually holds up. Not bad for a first timer.

What about actual downloads? Below is a 235MB file I was downloading earlier to see how fast I could get it.

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Consistent download speed of 1.5MB/s and file was downloaded in about two minutes. My normal internet speed would have been about 10 minutes.

Initial testing was pretty good. Everything was pretty much consistent.

User Experience (Account Setup and Recharging)

I set up my account at one of the Surfline stores. Quick and easy. Purchased the device, activated at one of the counters and was ready to go.

Logging in is pretty easy once you’re set up

Buying more data too is actually quite easy. You can purchase a recharge card or use a debit/credit card (More of this option in Ghana please!)

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Login Page
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Account Profile

So far so good. I would like the option of having a software that came with the LTE devices so I could check my data without having to login to my account. That’s just my little criticism. It might be in the pipeline at Surfline HQ.

Also, a mobile app have account management wouldn’t be bad as well.

(I’ve available for consulting Surfline, just drop me a line)

Conclusion

I have to say I am impressed. It’s good to see something like 4G LTE come to the Ghanaian market and actually be good. Branding and marketing has been actually pretty good as well.

No doubt, the high prices of the devices will be a turn off for most consumers especially when their promotion for the free devices comes to an end. But I can see where Surfline is coming from. It’s a new technology they are bringing into the Ghanaian market. I’m sure they have put a lot of investment into setting up the 4G LTE infrastruture and other equipment. A premium service will definitely lead to high prices so they can recoup their investments.

When the iPhone first came out, it was $600 for the 8GB version. Fast forward and you can get an iPhone 5s from $199 to $399. New technology will always be expensive but the prices do come down over time.

Hopefully, we will see the prices for LTE devices come down over the long run.

So the question is: Should you try 4G LTE now? It depends. Do you really need it for your day to day activities? How much is speed important to you? If you answer affirmative to both questions, nothing wrong with being an early adopter and purchasing one of these devices.

Or you can wait for the price point to come down and try your hands at it.

Surfline just started the race for 4G LTE. Will MTN and Vodafone jump into the race soon? And if/when they do, can you catch up and compete?

For now, we’ll see how Surfline manages over time. And if/when they start rolling out voice services for 4G LTE and expand past the city limits, I think the competition may have something to fear.

You can check more info at the Surfline website.

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