The best mobile network in South Africa: Vodacom vs MTN vs Cell C vs Telkom

Wireless coverage mapping group, OpenSignal has released its State of Mobile report for South Africa, measuring which local mobile operator runs the best and fastest network in the country.

The group uses thousands of readings from its OpenSignal app on mobile devices to determine which networks have the widest coverage and fastest download speeds.

For South Africa, it tracked over 289 million measurements from 20,400 test devices between May and July 2017.

According to the results, Vodacom led or tied in all metrics, making it the top network in the country.

“Vodacom set itself apart with a trio of wins and an equal number of top-of-the-table draws in our six metrics. Vodacom stood out in particular in OpenSignal’s 3G speed and latency categories, though it faced much stiffer competition from MTN in our core 4G metrics,” the group said.

MTN was “hot on Vodacom’s heels”, OpenSignal said, with the group giving the country’s top network tough competition in the 4G space.

“(Vodacom and MTN) had the fastest LTE speeds in South Africa in our tests, both averaging downloads greater than 22 Mbps. They were also neck and neck in our 4G availability results. Our users on both networks were able to latch onto their LTE signals more than 70% of the time,” it said.

By contrast, Cell C and Telkom still have a way to go to catch up to the top two, with the average speeds measured on Vodacom and MTN almost twice as fast.

“In the 4G category, we measured download speeds for Cell C and Telkom at 13.8 Mbps and 11.6 Mbps respectively, scores that fell short of the global LTE average of 16.2 Mbps,” OpenSignal said.

Results table


OpenSignal said that the different capabilities of the four operators’ networks are the likely reasons for the speed differences between the top and bottom ranks of providers.

Vodacom, for example, has launched LTE across three frequency bands and is experimenting with an LTE-Advanced technique called carrier aggregation to boost its connections speeds, it said.

Competitors, OpenSignal said, are using fewer frequencies or have less bandwidth devoted to 4G services, although other operators are expanding LTE into two frequency bands.

“Vodacom’s aggressive technological approach may be the reason it won at least a share of all six of OpenSignal’s awards in this report,” the report said.

Category results


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The best mobile network in South Africa: Vodacom vs MTN vs Cell C vs Telkom