How MTN became the best network in South Africa

MTN has been confirmed as having the best mobile network in South Africa by independent network testing from MyBroadband and P3 Communications.

MTN has dethroned Vodacom, which until last year was the top dog in terms of network quality and coverage.

This raises the question: How was MTN able to pass its main rival, which had a strong lead over other operators?

The answer is simple – money. And lots of it.

Over the past three years, MTN has invested over R30 billion in its network, and its network rollout in 2017 was the largest in South Africa’s history.

It is, however, easy to waste money without significant improvements. MTN prevented this by implementing strict network and customer experience key performance indicators (KPIs).

These KPIs informed the capacity required on the network to achieve great service levels for its customers.

MTN said it uses several tools when planning and optimising its network, which include crowd-sourced experience data from MyBroadband’s speed test platform.

MTN’s improvements

MTN’s dual data strategy to improve its network, which focused on 3G and 4G, involved:

  • Radio design improvements.
  • Deploying the latest technology features, including 4×4 MIMO on LTE, LTE Carrier Aggregation, and LTE 256QAM modulation support.
  • Increasing base station backhaul capacity.
  • Expanding its core transport and IP data network capacity.

“Targeted capital investments in our network infrastructure enabled us to deploy the latest technology at cost-effective rates,” said MTN SA executive Jacqui O’Sullivan.

“At the same time, we continue to lower the means to communicate for many of our subscribers, and we will continue to do so.”

MTN is not slowing down, and in 2018 it will invest over R9 billion to further improve its network.

Network investments – MTN vs Vodacom

The table below shows the approximate network investment of MTN and Vodacom over the last three years, based in the companies’ reported CAPEX.

CAPEX and Network Investments
Operator 2015 2016 2017 Total
MTN R10.95 billion R10.98 million R11.47 billion R33.40 billion
Vodacom R8.65 billion R8.75 billion R8.47 billion R25.87 billion

Now read: MTN has the best network in Gauteng, Cape Town, and Durban

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How MTN became the best network in South Africa