What's up with mobile networks in South Africa - we look at the SA Mobile Network Report - Stuff

What’s up with mobile networks in South Africa — we look at the SA Mobile Network Report

The state of mobile networks in South Africa is an… interesting one, with customers losing trust in most of them over recent years. According to Opensignal, though, mobile networks in South Africa are on an upward track, getting better by the year. 

Opensignal is a mobile analytics company which analyses South Africa mobile networks and what users experience locally. The company’s findings are published twice annually. This is one of those times. Service provider MTN has come out on top with its 4G availability test this time around.  

Widespread improvement

MTN scored of 83.6% in the 4G availability test, which is rather decent. Decent enough for first place, that is. The other three operators (Vodacom, Telkom and Cell C), all follow closely at just under 80% 4G availability. This network update is of interest for more than just the availability data though. It’s also a sign of things to come. South Africa wants to start implementing 5G when 4G isn’t yet ubiquitous in South Africa. That suggests that full 5G coverage is quite a way in our future, since we haven’t completely sorted out 4G yet. 

On to more current matters: All four of the mobile networks improved on download speed, with MTN and Vodacom leading the choir with 18.6Mbps and 19.3Mbps download speeds respectively. It does look like our local networks are struggling to boost upload speeds, with the fastest network upload speed being 5.8Mbps (offered by Vodacom). 

MTN and Vodacom are tied for best video streaming experience, which is fine by us, seeing as both have increased their scores since February 2019. We are expecting video streaming to improve massively in SA with the upsurge of mobile phone streaming. We can blame the likes of Netflix and Showmax for that.  

It’s good to know that the mobile networks in South Africa are far from stagnant, actively improving services (that we all pay so much for). Hopefully the introduction of affordable data-only networks (like Rain), combined with the Icasa rulings from earlier this year, data will fall even more. Even if it’s just a little bit.

Marce is the Deputy Editor at Stuff Magazine.

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