Our Internet Lifestyle:
Our pleasure for Internet freedom and lifestyle all started some four years back when mobile web browsing was just a novel experience and mobile broadband a non-existing idea. Have you ever come to think of the factor that gave a stupendous rise to the mobile-phone market among youths? Your guess might not be right. It is not in the airs of sophistication it constantly adds to us. No! Mobile phones began gaining conscious popularity when a more social feature it could always perform was integrated into it – mobile web browsing! This was the particular thing that made me and my friends to start believing that internet connection might soon cease to be something we walked miles to get access to anymore. At first, it was how to get the money for the phones with compatible simple web function that overrode our thoughts. We heard Nokia 2626 was economical to get and that Nokia 3110c has larger memories to manage multitudinous apps for computer-like internet surfing. The glee this new discovery gave us was beyond boards. We spent our feeding allowances and some of the cash gotten from the kindness of relatives and friends on the newly found trove. Though, we always instinctively condemned Mutiu whenever we found out he had ‘reshuffled’ his father’s money (Mutiu called it ‘reshuffling’ rather stealing, because he said he was only helping himself with the money to satisfy urgent needs), we wouldn’t reject it when the money was meant to pay our internet subscription. But when our activities on our mobile web began to weigh down more than what we could pay for despite Mutiu’s constant ‘reshuffling’, we devised other means…
The other means was when we sought ways of circumventing the service of our network providers. For this cause alone, we got ourselves on the network that was porous to accommodate our means. Our normal contact became unreachable. It was different sims every time. We migrated to and from different lines we could bypass. It was Tobiloba who first brought the solution that very boring day when we fidgeted with normal downloaded gaming applications on our phones to contain the drabness of the mood we were thrown into for lack of money to buy more expensive internet bundle plan. What was annoyingly unbelievable about these bundle plans was the measurement in which the internet connection was given out to customers as a groundnut oil seller would make sure little tickle of her oil does not get to the brim of your bottle. They were in MBs (Megabytes). Various sizes of MBs came with different costs; 100MB for #1000, 500MB for #3,000 and so on.
Tobiloba hopped in that day and galloped around like a demented possessed priest of Ogun, the god of Thunder. We all knew something as different from the usual had happened. We needn’t be told. This was the same thing Tobiloba always did before he announces any news or something no one else knew about. Such was his act when he caught Mutiu’s downward spirited piece of man feverishly glued to the fleshy posterior of Bisi, our street’s orange seller, in the diffused darkness that was only welcome whenever bulbs become mere scientific invention made useless by incessant power outage. Tobilola was the bringer of odd happenings, the ears of the king at homes and at farms.
Tobiloba detailed how he had met a friend who also has a friend that knew somebody who could get the issue of our internet lack solved with meager penny. That paved the way for the unbridled access that followed. We only paid the hacker, so he was called for the skill he has in altering communication and data codes, two hundred naira for each of the phone he configured with his strings of generated IP addresses, Proxies, Access Points and pre-customized Opera Minis, which he said would cast a cloud on the detecting machine of the service provider we were on. We browsed freely, downloaded music of larger file memories and replaced previously installed applications with updated versions.
I started it first. I knew I did, though I only thought things were meant to be done rightly in order to be able to reroute the course of things that weren’t orderly. The idea was mine and I was the origin of the divide that got my friends’ backs turned against mine. It was no debate the network providers were exploitative in their internet plans, I also knew standing against what is bad couldn’t be done with soiled conscience.
Only a deranged person will still pay for things that could be given as freebies, right? But the free booty was not satisfying as it should anymore. Sometimes, we paid for a configuration and the next couples of hours it would be blocked. Our pleasure never took us long, we paid for browsing-cheats for our mobile more than the price the normal connection was bought for. I was fed up. My academic performance was worsening for the lack of Wikipedia and About.com to read.
That peculiar evening, I lobbed the words that caught my friends’ off-guards, how deadly they blew the gaskets afterwards!
“I want to start subscribing again.” I told them
“I’m not all in for this shady cheats of a thing. After all, it always sent us going back to pay more illegal money to that guy who wouldn’t tell us that the cheats might be blocked in some minuscule minutes from when it was configured.”
I deleted the customized Operas on my phone, browsed the Internet in the crammed café room we ran away from initially, and pulled through pages of different Internet providers. My hard-saved penny catered for the modem whose sole means of recharge came from forgotten changes of money used to buy random items like Maggie and salt for the home.
Mutiu and Tobiloba were always in the habit of snatching at me when they learnt I had started paying for internet again. I was on 100 megabytes subscription that would only last me to download few pages of gmail, facebook and Naijastories. For Mutiu and Tobiloba, system upgrade of network providers meant one thing: the blocking of free internet access. One who knew not my friends before now, would easily pass them off as sim card retailers. They had stacks of them. When MTN blocked them out, they took solace with Etisalat. When Airtel’s gprs crawled; for them, Glo’s 3.5G network might work the speed. It has been three years now since we have gone our separate paths for what they misconstrued as my puritan streak of legality. I got a group facebook request from them few days ago. A group they created for distributing free internet Access codes online. Solving Internet Accessibility for the Masses was the group’s name.
I couldn’t have toed the same track they followed. Doing so, would mean always escaping from the internet noose of my network provider.
I only wish access to the internet were cheaper and available, where a month subscription wouldn’t cost more than five hundred naira. I only dream…