MTN obliterates Vodacom in 5G speeds and coverage

Analytico’s assessment of thousands of mobile 5G speeds measured on the MyBroadband Speed Test app in 2022 saw MTN trouncing Vodacom in more than one way.

MTN recorded an average 5G download speed of 233.32Mbps, about 32% faster than Vodacom’s 176.27Mbps average.

The operator also came out on top in upload speeds, recording 41.16Mbps on average, almost double the 22.37Mbps measured on Vodacom’s 5G network.

Vodacom also lost the latency battle — a standout feature used to market 5G’s benefits over 4G and 3G technology.

MTN posted an average ping of 27.17ms compared to the 37.84ms Vodacom’s 5G network achieved.

The table below summarises the average download and upload speeds and latency measured on Vodacom and MTN’s 5G networks on the MyBroadband Speed Test app in 2022.

Average mobile 5G speeds on MyBroadband Speedtest App
Network Download Upload Latency
MTN 233.32Mbps 41.16Mbps 27.17ms
Vodacom 176.27Mbps 22.37Mbps 37.84ms

MTN not only leads in terms of 5G speeds in South Africa but also offers superior coverage.

While Vodacom had about a month’s head-start on MTN with its launch of mobile 5G services in South Africa in May 2020, MTN has proven to be more aggressive in its 5G rollout.

In Vodacom’s most recent quarterly update for the period ended June 2022, it only makes one mention of 5G, where the operator says it would invest “incrementally” into 5G infrastructure to help bring down its capex intensity.

In stark contrast, MTN punted its advances with this newer network technology in its latest interim financial results for the half-year ended June 2022, noting how it added 443 new 5G sites in the first half of 2022 and bringing its total to 1,391.

As of June 2022, the operator had 20% of the South African population covered with 5G, aiming to reach 25% by the end of the year.

By comparison, it took Vodacom a year to increase 5G population coverage from 1.4% to 6.4% between the first quarters of 2021 and 2022.

Coverage maps reveal Vodacom and MTN’s 5G reach

The difference in coverage levels is evident in Vodacom and MTN’s online network coverage maps.

MTN 5G was available in parts of all nine provinces in the country, while Vodacom was absent from one province.

Vodacom had no 5G coverage in the North West, while MTN 5G was available in Potchefstroom, Rustenburg, Klerksdorp, and Hartbeespoort.

In Limpopo, Vodacom 5G was barely available in Polokwane, while MTN covered most of the province’s capital, in addition to other large towns like Mokopane, Tzaneen, and Louis Trichardt.

In most of the towns and cities where both operators’ had coverage, MTN’s 5G also covered a much larger land area.

That includes the likes of Cape Town, Bloemfontein, Kimberley, Johannesburg, Polokwane, and Pretoria.

The only area where Vodacom upstaged MTN was in the far east of Mpumalanga around Mbombela and on the edge of the Kruger National Park near Skukuza.

There, it offered coverage in the tourist towns of Sabie and Hazyview, together with a section across the western border of Kruger.

Overall, MyBroadband found MTN 5G was available in 16 towns or cities where Vodacom was not, while Vodacom had eight locations where MTN was missing.

The table below shows the cities and towns where both operators had coverage during our assessment of their maps and where only one or the other had 5G connectivity.

Vodacom MTN
Cape Town
East London
Emalahleni (formerly Witbank)
Gqeberha (formerly Port Elizabeth)
Jeffrey’s Bay
Mbombela (formerly Nelspruit)
Somerset West
Richard’s Bay
White River
Mjejane Lifestyle Estate/Marloth Park
Sabipark and surrounds
Makhanda (formerly Grahamstown)
Mthatha (formerly Umtata)
Port Shepstone
Qonce (formerly King William’s Town)

The maps below compare the coverage of Vodacom and MTN’s 5G networks across South Africa.

In each instance, the first image is for Vodacom’s coverage, while the second is MTN’s.

The maps are current as of 6 October 2022.

South Africa

Vodacom 5G coverage in South Africa
MTN 5G coverage in South Africa

Gauteng and surrounds

Vodacom 5G coverage
MTN 5G coverage

Cape Town and surrounds

Vodacom 5G coverage
MTN 5G coverage

KwaZulu-Natal coastline and Pietermaritzburg

Vodacom 5G coverage
MTN 5G coverage


Vodacom 5G coverage
MTN 5G coverage


Vodacom 5G coverage
MTN 5G coverage

Now read: Vodacom claims it hit 2.4Gbps 5G speeds — we tested it

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MTN obliterates Vodacom in 5G speeds and coverage