Rain’s network has come under severe strain during the lockdown. This has resulted in many subscribers complaining about poor speeds.
MyBroadband has received numerous emails from irate Rain subscribers saying their service has been near unusable.
“It’s been the fourth day I experience very slow Internet on the Rain network. Sometimes I can hardly browse. Most of the time there is ‘no Internet’,” one user said.
Another user told MyBroadband he has had major speed problems on Rain Mobile. “I have sent so many emails and tried calling,” he said. “How do they run a business like this?”
For some users, it has reached a point where they are cancelling their subscriptions because of poor performance.
“How do I cancel Rain? I have experienced very slow connectivity on Rain for the last 2 weeks. Today I even upgraded to their 24-hour uncapped package, but alas, nothing,” one user said.
Consumer website Hellopeter is also littered with complaints about Rain’s poor network performance and lacking support.
Rain network speeds during the lockdown
To objectively assess the impact of the lockdown on Rain’s network, MyBroadband looked at the speed test results over the past five weeks.
For this investigation, MyBroadband used its mobile app Wi-Fi results between 13 March (before the lockdown started) and 16 April.
During this time, over 70,000 tests were performed on Rain’s network using MyBroadband’s Android speed test app.
It therefore provides a good overview of the average performance of the Rain network before and during the lockdown.
The data clearly shows a big decline in download speed since the national lockdown started.
In the week when the state of disaster was announced, the average download speed on Rain’s network was over 20Mbps.
After people started to work from home in the week before the lockdown, the average download speed dropped to around 13Mbps.
In the first week of the lockdown, when most people were at home, the speed further declined to just over 10Mbps.
The decline in the average download speed continued over the next three weeks during the lockdown period.
The same trend was seen in network latency. It increased from 68ms before the state of disaster to 97ms during week three of the lockdown.
Latency is the time to get a response from a server. The lower the latency, the better.
The chart below shows the decline of over 50% in the average download speed on the Rain network between 13 March and 16 April. The second chart shows the increase in latency.
Rain CEO responds
Rain CEO Willem Roos said their network has held up remarkably well during the lockdown period, given the more than 50% increase in traffic.
“The average throughput per user is only marginally down and all other performance parameters is within acceptable boundaries,” he said.
However, Roos said, some users have been affected more than others.
“We have seen geographic traffic patterns change with so many people working from home in the suburbs,” he said.
“The mobile 4G network was not designed to carry such heavy traffic in those areas, and as such there are some congested towers. We see this throughout the day.”
New spectrum issued
Potential good news for Rain subscribers is that the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA) has issued temporary spectrum to the operator.
Rain has received an additional 30MHz in the 2,600MHz band which it uses for its LTE network.
Roos said once they receive the required spectrum, they can roll it out on their existing network equipment in the 2,600MHz band.
“This will create more capacity and assist the network to handle the increased load we have seen during the lockdown period,” Roos said.
“We are still working with ICASA to obtain spectrum which we can rapidly utilise. This will help but not solve all the issues,” he said.