Surprise result in South African 4G coverage battle

OpenSignal’s State of Mobile Networks: South Africa report shows that MTN has the best 4G availability in the country.

MTN topped OpenSignal’s 4G availability metric with a score of 78%, extending its lead over Vodacom to over six percentage points.

Vodacom’s score of 72% in OpenSignal’s measurements was followed by Cell C on 68% and Telkom with 66%.

“MTN saw the greatest increase since our last report of over four percentage points, while Cell C and Vodacom both increased their scores by over two points each,” OpenSignal said.


Results in major cities

A surprise result in OpenSignal’s regional 4G availability report was that Cell C beat Vodacom, and tied with MTN, in Cape Town.

Cell C has a far lower annual network investment than Vodacom and MTN, and to overtake Vodacom in a core region like Cape Town is unexpected.

MTN also reigned supreme in Johannesburg and Durban, with a score of over 80% 4G availability in all major cities.

“This pattern reflects a wider phenomenon we’ve observed in developing mobile markets, where operators are focused on rolling out 4G to as many people as possible,” OpenSignal said.

The company added that 4G availability scores of over 80% are impressive in what is still an emerging LTE market.


Vodacom and MTN respond

In Vodacom’s latest trading update, it said that it has increased its 4G coverage to 81.5%.

It has also signed a roaming agreement with Rain, whereby Vodacom customers will be able to roam on Rain’s 4G network.

MTN said in June that it had increased its population coverage to 83%, up from 75% six months before.

OpenSignal’s report therefore substantiates the information from Vodacom and MTN’s latest financial reports.

In response to the report, MTN said it believes that it has the widest LTE coverage in the country, which covers 87% of the population – while the closest competitor achieved 85% of the population.

“Our aggressive L900 rollout has given us a boost in expanding LTE coverage,” MTN said.

Vodacom said measuring coverage via crowdsourced tools is typically difficult to achieve as tests are only done where devices are active.

Now read: MTN boosts LTE coverage and download speeds

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Surprise result in South African 4G coverage battle