Vodacom vs MTN – From Nelspruit to Lydenburg

MyBroadband recently tested the mobile network quality in Mpumalanga as part of its countrywide mobile network testing project, which showed that users can get great speeds in the area.

The MyBroadband mobile network testing project is conducted in partnership with Afristay and Samsung, and provides a comprehensive look at cellular network quality in South Africa.

Coverage and data throughput tests are conducted using the MyBroadband Speed Test App, running on our Samsung Galaxy S9 smartphone test bench.

A SIM from each of the mobile operators – Vodacom, MTN, Cell C, and Telkom – is used in the Galaxy S9 phones, and performance tests are conducted on regular intervals while driving.

MyBroadband’s speed test servers are hosted in Teraco’s vendor-neutral data centres to ensure an impartial testing environment.

Through NAPAfrica, all network operators present at its peering points are provided with a free 10Gbps connection to the MyBroadband Speed Test platform.

Coverage over the Panorama Route

The latest route was from Mbombela (Nelspruit), over Long Tom Pass, to Lydenburg, with thousands of speed tests conducted in Nelspruit, White River, Sabie, and Lydenburg.

We then calculated the Network Quality Score for the region and for each of the towns, which took download speed, upload speed, and latency into account.

A Network Quality Score out of 10 shows how the networks performed in relation to each other.

Understanding the maps below: Each of the small red dots with a green circle around it indicates a test in that area. Larger red dots indicate multiple tests in the area.

Mobile Network Quality

MTN and Vodacom generally had good coverage in all the towns surveyed.

When you stray from the major routes, however, connectivity becomes spotty – but decent speeds could be obtained in locations close to major roads or towns.

Vodacom was the clear winner across the part of the Panorama Route we tested, only losing to MTN in two of the smaller towns we surveyed: Sabie and Burgersfort.

Telkom offered good speeds in the places where it had coverage.

While signal for Cell C and Telkom would often disappear while driving, the only town surveyed where the operators relied completely on their roaming agreements with Vodacom and MTN was Sabie.

Nelspruit to Lydenburg


Vodacom achieved average download speeds of 35Mbps in Nelspruit, putting it ahead of MTN by a significant margin. It also had the highest average upload speeds.


White River

Vodacom also achieved great speeds in White River, with average download speeds of 30Mbps, and upload throughput of 5Mbps.

White River


MTN was the clear winner in Sabie, posting the highest average download and upload speeds, and the lowest latencies.

Its average download throughput was 32Mbps, while upload speeds were 8Mbps.



Vodacom’s win in Lydenburg was convincing, achieving an average download speed of 29Mbps, and uploads of 12Mbps


Where we stayed – Akabeko Boutique Hotel

Thanks to our project partner Afristay, we spent the night at the Akabeko Boutique Hotel.

Seven spacious suites are dotted along the bank of a soft-flowing river. Spa treatments are available, and golfers may play a round on their course – which Akabeko said is designed for fun above all else.

We visited just as autumn was giving way to winter, allowing us to enjoy the fireplaces in the restaurant and our room, which added to the already-intimate atmosphere of the hotel.

Akabeko is five-star like we’ve never experienced before, offering exclusivity and privacy along with top-notch service and a brilliant restaurant.

Akabeko main building

Akabeko suite

What we saw

Mbombela stadium
Mbombela stadium.
Giant dodecahedral soccer ball with a cellphone mast nearby
Giant dodecahedral soccer ball with a cellphone mast nearby.
Long Tom Pass
Long Tom Pass.

Now read: How MTN became the best network in South Africa

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Vodacom vs MTN – From Nelspruit to Lydenburg