Huawei leads 5G speeds on two networks in South Africa

Huawei’s radio equipment boasts the fastest download speeds of all vendors on two of the three mobile 5G networks in South Africa.

That is according to data from 86,836 speed tests performed on the MyBroadband Speed Test Android app since the start of 2023.

Huawei’s dominance in South African network infrastructure mirrors its global performance in this industry.

Despite losing some market share in Western countries in the past few years, the Chinese tech giant operates the largest number of mobile base stations globally.

According to data from TrendForce, Huawei accounted for roughly 29% of base stations in 2022, with Ericcson trailing in second place with 24%.

In its home market, it accounts for 59% of mobile network towers, nearly double that of the second-biggest vendor — ZTE.

It is also among the five big global players in 5G networks.

Huawei president of ICT strategy and marketing Peng Song recently said that 5G would play a big role in increasing mobile network revenue.

All three mobile networks that offer mobile 5G connectivity in South Africa — Vodacom, MTN, and Telkom — use Huawei’s equipment on a share of their towers.

Rain also employs the company’s equipment in its fixed 5G network, but that requires customers to use their router in a single location.

Although Rain recently launched a national mobile network with support for calls and SMSs, its mobile data coverage is currently limited to 4G.

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Speed tests performed since the start of 2023 showed that Telkom’s Huawei equipment had the best average download speed in South Africa — 316.78Mbps.

However, because Telkom’s 5G network is still only a few months old, the data at Analytico’s disposal could only be drawn from 46 unique devices, some of which were likely optimised Telkom test devices.

Vodacom and MTN’s 5G networks had tens of thousands of tests between them, suggesting a bigger pool of general users performed their test.

Vodacom’s Huawei equipment achieved an average download speed of 247.43Mbps in the year to date.

The first figure was around 59% faster than the 155.66Mbps average download speed it achieved in the first nine months of 2022.

Huawei also posted better average upload speeds and latency than Vodacom’s other 5G network vendor — Nokia.

The 37.59Mbps upload average was also around 26% faster than the 29.87Mbps measured in 2022.

The odd one out

It was an altogether different tale on MTN’s network, with Huawei performing the worst of the three vendors in terms of download speeds.

Its average speed of 173.21Mbps was easily trumped by ZTE’s 190.70Mbps and Ericsson’s 200.25Mbps.

However, Huawei’s equipment posted the best average upload speed on MTN’s network, with 42.38Mbps compared to ZTE’s 31.11Mbps and Ericsson’s 30.35Mbps.

Overall, MTN’s 5G network performance deteriorated significantly from Analytico’s previous analysis in October 2022.

In that instance, the average download speeds of all three of its vendors had trumped Vodacom’s two vendors.

The latest results show a total swing in favour of Vodacom.

One possible factor contributing to this is MTN’s increased investment in backup power, which has shifted some of its capital expenditure away from its 5G rollout.

MyBroadband also understands that MTN had to switch off some of its 5G radios to conserve battery power during higher stages of load-shedding.

The table below compares the speeds of 5G network equipment vendors in South Africa.

5G speeds in South Africa — by vendor and network
Vendor Network Download speed Upload speed Latency
Huawei Telkom 316.78Mbps 36.85Mbps 20.72ms
Huawei Vodacom 247.43Mbps 37.59Mbps 21.46ms
Nokia Vodacom 210.81Mbps 22.58Mbps 25.31ms
Ericsson MTN 200.25Mbps 30.35Mbps 29.16ms
ZTE MTN 190.70Mbps 31.11Mbps 22.5ms
Huawei MTN 173.32Mbps 42.38Mbps 33.33ms

Now read: Uncapped fixed-5G price showdown

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Huawei leads 5G speeds on two networks in South Africa