Does Vodacom really have the best network in South Africa?

Vodacom’s latest advertising campaign makes the bold claim that it has the best network and fastest mobile Internet offering in South Africa.

This claim is surprising, considering a February 2014 ruling by the Advertising Standards Authority of SA that Vodacom’s claim of having the “best network in South Africa” is unsubstantiated.

But what does it take to have the best network?

While there are many facets to a great mobile network, three criteria stand out: coverage, call quality, and data performance.

To claim to have the best network in South Africa, Vodacom must reign supreme in all these criteria.

MyBroadband investigated each of these criteria to find out if Vodacom really has the best network in the country.

Coverage

Vodacom currently has over 10,200 cellular towers in SA, which provide a population coverage of 99.8%. Vodacom offers a 3G population coverage of 96%.

MTN’s also has over 99% population coverage. However, its 3G population coverage is sitting at 87%.

Cell C is investing in its voice and data networks, but it has a long way to go to match Vodacom’s extensive 2G, 3G, and LTE networks. The same goes for Telkom.

Verdict: Vodacom has the best network coverage in South Africa.

Mobile network population coverage
Mobile network population coverage

Call quality

Independent research regarding call quality emerged recently, which include average call setup success rates and dropped call rates.

The industry report showed that Vodacom outperformed MTN, Cell C, and Telkom Mobile on average call setup success rates and dropped call rates.

Verdict: Vodacom has the best call quality in South Africa.

Voice network quality
Rank Call setup success (97% – 99%) Least dropped calls (0.6% – 2%) Overall voice quality rank
1 Vodacom Vodacom Vodacom
2 Telkom Telkom Telkom
3 MTN MTN MTN
4 Cell C Cell C Cell C

Data network performance

To claim to have the best data network, Vodacom must produce the highest average speeds and a consistent performance.

The latest Ookla Net Index statistics show that Vodacom’s average download speed of 14.17Mbps easily outperforms MTN (8.17Mbps), Telkom Mobile (7.90Mbps), and Cell C (4.66Mbps).

Vodacom’s average upload speed of 4.93Mbps is also higher than MTN (3.02Mbps), Telkom Mobile (1.87Mbps), and Cell C (1.47Mbps).

The independent research report mentioned earlier confirms the Ookla results, with Vodacom ranked top, followed by MTN, Telkom, and Cell C.

Verdict: Vodacom has the best mobile data network performance in South Africa.

Mobile data network quality
Rank Data download (3-9Mbps) Data upload (1-5Mbps) Latency (60-160ms) Overall data quality rank
1 Vodacom Vodacom Vodacom Vodacom
2 MTN MTN MTN MTN
3 Telkom Telkom Cell C Telkom
4 Cell C Cell C Telkom Cell C

Vodacom best network claim – Conclusion

Evidence shows that Vodacom has the best mobile network coverage in South Africa, offers the best call quality, and has the best data network performance.

Vodacom’s claim to have the best network is therefore accurate.

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Does Vodacom really have the best network in South Africa?