Best and worst ISPs during lockdown – Speed and customer satisfaction comparison

MyBroadband’s latest speed test and customer satisfaction ratings reveal that Cool Ideas, Afrihost, and Axxess have the happiest customers during the COVID-19 lockdown.

On the other end of the scale, Telkom and Rain received the lowest customer satisfaction ratings. Rain also had the worst speed deterioration during the lockdown.

This report is based on 1.25 million speed test and customer satisfaction ratings which were collected using MyBroadband’s web-based speed test and Android Speed Test App.

The two data sets which were used for the article are listed below:

  • Before the lockdown – 308,038 speed tests which were performed between 1 February 2020 and 29 February 2020.
  • During the lockdown – 938,716 speed tests which were performed between 27 March 2020 and 30 April 2020.

To ensure a neutral testing environment, MyBroadband’s speed test servers are hosted in Teraco’s vendor-neutral data centres.

MyBroadband has speed test servers at NAPAfrica’s peering points in Johannesburg, Cape Town, and Durban.

After a user performs a speed test, they also have the option to rate their ISP based on their overall satisfaction with their provider.

These customer satisfaction ratings are then used to rank South Africa’s ISPs.

Speed change during the lockdown

The national lockdown which started on 27 March has put pressure on mobile operators and Internet service providers because of the related increase in Internet traffic.

Vodacom said it has experienced a 40% increase in mobile network traffic and a 250% increase in fixed-line traffic during the COVID-19 lockdown.

Afrihost said it has seen a big increase in bandwidth consumption during the lockdown. There was a 62% increase in usage in the afternoons and a 27% increase in usage at peak times – around 20:00.

To assess the impact of this increased traffic demand on mobile and fixed-line networks, MyBroadband compared median download speeds in February 2020 and April 2020.

The median speed (instead of the average speed) was used to ensure a few users with very high or very low speeds to not skew the results.

The impact of the increased traffic demand on wireless networks, which cannot easily increase capacity because of spectrum constraints, was clearly visible.

Vodacom, MTN, Cell C, and Telkom all saw a decline of between 10% and 20% in median download speeds.

One network was particularly hard hit – Rain. It saw a 54% decline in its median download speed during the lockdown.

Fibre ISPs, in comparison, saw an increase in their median download and upload speeds during the lockdown.

The reason for this is the free line-speed and network upgrades which these ISPs passed onto their subscribers.

The table below shows the download speed changes of fixed-line ISPs compared to mobile networks during the lockdown.

Median Download Speeds
ISP February 2020 April 2020 Change
Cool Ideas 18.94Mbps 23.72Mbps +25.27%
Afrihost 9.70Mbps 11.70Mbps +20.69%
Axxess 8.18Mbps 9.38Mbps +14.74%
MWEB 8.47Mbps 9.61Mbps +13.44%
Supersonic 18.82Mbps 20.28Mbps +7.78%
Vodacom 10.49Mbps 9.43Mbps -10.04%
Telkom 5.39Mbps 4.47Mbps -17.04%
Cell C 13.09Mbps 10.67Mbps -18.45%
MTN 15.27Mbps 12.33Mbps -19.26%
Rain 8.36Mbps 3.82Mbps -54.31%

ISP with the happiest subscribers

ISPs’ customer satisfaction ratings were closely related to their network quality during the lockdown.

Cool Ideas, Afrihost, and Axxess had strong performance increases during the lockdown and also topped the customer satisfaction rankings.

Rain and Telkom, in comparison, had challenges during the lockdown – which shows in their customer satisfaction rankings.

The table below ranks ISPs based on their average customer satisfaction rankings during the lockdown – 27 March 2020 to 30 April 2020.

Customer Satisfaction Ratings
ISP Rating
Cool Ideas 7.94
Afrihost 7.62
Axxess 7.21
MTN 7.13
Supersonic 6.99
MWEB 6.39
Cell C 6.25
Vodacom 6.16
Rain 4.95
Telkom 4.56

Now read: Afrihost IPC graph reveals how the lockdown changed Internet usage in South Africa

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Best and worst ISPs during lockdown – Speed and customer satisfaction comparison