Mobile broadband shootout: Vodacom vs MTN vs Cell C vs Telkom

The mission was simple: get Vodacom, MTN, Cell C, and Telkom Mobile SIM cards, an LTE-capable smartphone, pick several locations around Gauteng, and see which network gave us the best data download and upload speeds.

Once the SIMs were obtained and loaded with data, we chose an iPhone 5 as the platform to conduct our speed tests. The A1429 model running iOS 8.1.3 was used, along with Ookla’s Speed Test application.

The iPhone was set to connect to LTE, or 4G in Vodacom’s case, if a signal was available.

Method

Each SIM was placed in the phone and given time to find a signal. Once the signal was acquired, the phone was left for a minute to ensure it had a solid connection.

Six speed tests were conducted on each network at each location. The fastest and slowest results, as per download speed, were discounted and the remaining four were used to obtain a download, upload, and ping average.

The results for each area are tabulated and ranked – based on average download speed – below.

It should be noted that the iPhone 5 used is not compatible with Telkom’s LTE network.

Test 1 – Midstream Estate

Field Test 1 – Midstream Estates, Centurion (10:30 – 11:10)
Tests Test 1 Test 2
Network Down Up Ping Down Up Ping
Vodacom 18.21Mbps 14.49Mbps 46ms 10.96Mbps 10.38Mbps 51ms
MTN 26.01Mbps 3.67Mbps 29ms 22.43Mbps 3.75Mbps 25ms
Telkom Mobile 7.88Mbps 2.03Mbps 39ms 7.71Mbps 1.72Mbps 35ms
Cell C 7.37Mbps 1.7Mbps 46ms 7.49Mbps 0.96Mbps 40ms
Tests Test 3 Test 4
Network Down Up Ping Down Up Ping
Vodacom 9.09Mbps 9.12Mbps 35ms 15.35Mbps 10.62Mbps 32ms
MTN 26.34Mbps 12.85Mbps 27ms 23.31Mbps 4.13Mbps 24ms
Telkom Mobile 8.64Mbps 2.53Mbps 35ms 8.62Mbps 2.97Mbps 21ms
Cell C 8.15Mbps 3.16Mbps 44ms 8.33Mbps 1.95Mbps 58ms
Average Speed in Midstream Estates
Network Down Up Ping
MTN 24.52Mbps 6.1Mbps 26ms
Vodacom 13.4Mbps 11.15Mbps 41ms
Telkom Mobile 8.21Mbps 2.31Mbps 33ms
Cell C 7.84Mbps 1.94Mbps 47ms
MTN - Midstream Estate
MTN – Midstream Estate (excluded fastest result)

 Test 2 – Sandton

Field Test 2 – Sandown, Sandton (11:45- 12:15)
Tests Test 1 Test 2
Network Down Up Ping Down Up Ping
Vodacom 13.9Mbps 3.62Mbps 35ms 15.93Mbps 3.53Mbps 474ms
MTN 24.87Mbps 8.74Mbps 40ms 24.98Mbps 8.64Mbps 40ms
Telkom Mobile 1.39Mbps 0.65Mbps 38ms 1.64Mbps 0.14Mbps 65ms
Cell C 6.18Mbps 3.59Mbps 36ms 5.41Mbps 3.37Mbps 36ms
Tests Test 3 Test 4
Network Down Up Ping Down Up Ping
Vodacom 10.18Mbps 16.23Mbps 38ms 12.16Mbps 14.39Mbps 30ms
MTN 14.27Mbps 8.95Mbps 41ms 11.15Mbps 8.41Mbps 42ms
Telkom Mobile 1.75Mbps 0.51Mbps 34ms 2.16Mbps 0.76Mbps 41ms
Cell C 6.19Mbps 3.62Mbps 41ms 5.09Mbps 1.78Mbps 29ms
Average Speed
Network Down Up Ping
MTN 18.81Mbps 8.67Mbps 41ms
Vodacom 13.04Mbps 9.44Mbps 144ms
Cell C 5.72Mbps 3.09Mbps 45ms
Telkom Mobile 1.74Mbps 0.52Mbps 36ms
MTN - Sandton
MTN – Sandton

Test 3 – Midrand

Field Test 3 – Midridge Park, Midrand (13:00 – 13:30)
Tests Test 1 Test 2
Network Down Up Ping Down Up Ping
Vodacom 1.99Mbps 1.02Mbps 33ms 2.03Mbps 0.21Mbps 74ms
MTN 7.59Mbps 9.45Mbps 33ms 8.8Mbps 8.43Mbps 29ms
Telkom Mobile 0.15Mbps 0.34Mbps 528ms 1.59Mbps 0.26Mbps 831ms
Cell C 0.13Mbps 0.23Mbps 147ms 0.51Mbps 0.03Mbps 102ms
Tests Test 3 Test 4
Network Down Up Ping Down Up Ping
Vodacom 2.34Mbps 0.91Mbps 57ms 2.53Mbps 0.7Mbps 48ms
MTN 6.37Mbps 8.76Mbps 32ms 6.89Mbps 9.45Mbps 32ms
Telkom Mobile 1.45Mbps 0.43Mbps 386ms 0.03Mbps 0.49Mbps 317ms
Cell C 0.42Mbps 0.03Mbps 181ms 0.63Mbps 0.25Mbps 131ms
Average Speed
Network Down Up Ping
MTN 7.41Mbps 9.02Mbps 32ms
Vodacom 2.22Mbps 0.71Mbps 53ms
Telkom Mobile 0.81Mbps 0.38Mbps 516ms
Cell C 0.42Mbps 0.14Mbps 140ms

It should be noted that when testing Cell C in Midrand, there were several “Latency Test Failed” results. Cell C was tested 10 times with the Ookla app, 6 of which rendered the latency failure result. The remaining four results are the speeds in the table above.

Cell C - Midrand
Cell C – Midrand

Test 4 – Pretoria

Field Test 4 – Brooklyn, Pretoria (18:00 – 18:30)
Tests Test 1 Test 2
Network Down Up Ping Down Up Ping
Vodacom 14.6Mbps 8.43Mbps 26ms 11.71Mbps 7.74Mbps 36ms
MTN 27.17Mbps 7.47Mbps 34ms 23.58Mbps 8.94Mbps 31ms
Telkom Mobile 3.27Mbps 0.92Mbps 83ms 1.56Mbps 0.47Mbps 132ms
Cell C 6.36Mbps 3.42Mbps 31ms 6.28Mbps 1.86Mbps 56ms
Tests Test 3 Test 4
Network Down Up Ping Down Up Ping
Vodacom 9.96Mbps 8.46Mbps 31ms 11.58Mbps 15.72Mbps 41ms
MTN 21.54Mbps 8.58Mbps 33ms 25.17Mbps 9.12Mbps 29ms
Telkom Mobile 3.25Mbps 0.29Mbps 100ms 2.14Mbps 0.35Mbps 99ms
Cell C 6.12Mbps 3.36Mbps 31ms 5.58Mbps 1.89Mbps 31ms
Average Speed
Network Down Up Ping
MTN 24.37Mbps 8.53Mbps 32ms
Vodacom 11.96Mbps 10.09Mbps 34ms
Cell C 6.09Mbps 2.63Mbps 37ms
Telkom Mobile 2.56Mbps 0.51Mbps 104ms
MTN - Brooklyn
MTN – Brooklyn

 Test 5 – MyBroadband Office

Field Test 5 – MyBroadband Office, Top Secret Location (19:00 – 19:30)
Tests Test 1 Test 2
Network Down Up Ping Down Up Ping
Vodacom 13.8Mbps 16.47Mbps 31ms 15.42Mbps 18.47Mbps 32ms
MTN 20.96Mbps 23.18Mbps 107ms 19.25Mbps 23.39Mbps 24ms
Telkom Mobile 1.27Mbps 1.35Mbps 29ms 2.15Mbps 2.50Mbps 37ms
Cell C 5.44Mbps 0.17Mbps 66ms 6.19Mbps 0.91Mbps 68ms
Tests Test 3 Test 4
Network Down Up Ping Down Up Ping
Vodacom 25.24Mbps 20.05Mbps 29ms 15.93Mbps 16.91Mbps 29ms
MTN 23.38Mbps 23.64Mbps 21ms 22.12Mbps 23.52Mbps 24ms
Telkom Mobile 2.25Mbps 2.17Mbps 28ms 2.59Mbps 2.49Mbps 34ms
Cell C 6.95Mbps 0.9Mbps 66ms 5.83Mbps 0.92Mbps 65ms
Average Speed
Network Down Up Ping
MTN 21.43Mbps 23.43Mbps 44ms
Vodacom 17.6Mbps 17.98Mbps 30ms
Cell C 6.1Mbps 0.73Mbps 32ms
Telkom Mobile 2.07Mbps 2.13Mbps 66ms 
MTN - MyBroadband Office
MTN – MyBroadband Office

Overall Average Speeds

Taking the average speeds from the five tests and averaging them out one last time, here are the overall results from the field test.

Overall Average Speed
Network Down Up Ping
MTN 19.31Mbps 11.15Mbps 35ms
Vodacom 11.64Mbps 9.87Mbps 60ms
Cell C 5.23Mbps 1.71Mbps 60ms
Telkom Mobile 3.08Mbps 0.89Mbps 151ms

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Mobile broadband shootout: Vodacom vs MTN vs Cell C vs Telkom