MTN named best mobile network for 2020

11th January 2021 By: Natasha Odendaal - Creamer Media Senior Deputy Editor

Telecommunications group MTN has secured the title of the best mobile network in South Africa for 2020.

This is according to the MyBroadband Insights 2020 Mobile Network Quality Report, released on January 11, which is based on 1.2-million speed tests performed by 41 099 MyBroadband Speed Test App users across South Africa between January 1 and December 31, 2020.

The report shows that MTN had a network quality score, which considers download speed, upload speed and latency, of 9.86 out of ten, while Vodacom had a score of 6.17.

This was followed by Telkom with a network quality score of 4.87 and Cell C and Rain, which both had a score of 4.35.

MTN had the highest average download speed at 52.84 Mb/s and upload speed at 19.92 Mb/s, followed by Vodacom with 29.39 Mb/s download speed and 10.43 Mb/s upload speed.

The Mobile Network Quality Report showed that Telkom had a download speed of 21.58 Mb/s and a 5.85 Mb/s upload speed during 2020.

Cell C and Rain had average download speeds of 17.46 Mb/s and 11.90 Mb/s and upload speeds of 7.91 Mb/s and 9.93 Mb/s respectively.

Overall, South Africa had an average download speed of 29.33 Mb/s and an average upload speed of 11.24 Mb/s, the report shows.

Despite the significant increase in data use during the year, owing to the various restrictions in place amid the global Covid-19 pandemic, the average network speed of South Africa’s mobile operators during 2020 increased.

Temporary spectrum issued by the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (Icasa) to mobile operators in April helped them to increase their network capacity and improve their average network.

MTN said that the release of temporary spectrum boosted its network, commending the Department of Communications and Digital Technologies (DCDT) and Icasa.

“While work on the spectrum auction was already underway when the pandemic hit, the DCDT and Icasa responded swiftly to release temporary spectrum, which had an immediate impact on our ability to reach more South Africans with even better coverage and quality,” explained MTN South Africa CEO Godfrey Motsa.

The use of the temporary spectrum enabled MTN South Africa to meet the demands of total data traffic doubling from 2019.

The group also used the some of the temporary spectrum to showcase fifth-generation (5G) speed and capabilities in large cities, as well as smaller towns.

Vodacom also launched its 5G network during the lockdown using the temporary spectrum.

Further, during the year, MTN’s download speeds increased from 43.47 Mb/s in the first quarter of the year to 64.31 Mb/s by the fourth quarter.

Vodacom and Telkom recorded increases in download speeds from a respective 29.79 Mb/s and 19.11 Mb/s in the first quarter to 33.71 Mb/s and 25.74 Mb/s.

Cell C experienced an increase in download speeds from 17.52 Mb/s in the first quarter to 18.79 Mb/s by the fourth quarter.

However, the average download speed on Rain’s network declined from 15.20 Mb/s in the first quarter of the year to 11.41 Mb/s in the fourth quarter, owing to network congestion in areas where Rain oversubscribed its service.

MyBroadband commented that Rain, which quadrupled its sign-ups after South Africa’s hard lockdown started at the end of March, struggled to cope with the increased demand for data.

“The situation was aggravated by the fact that Rain offers uncapped products and that many people stuck at home started to use streaming services like Netflix to stay entertained,” it concluded.