Both MTN and Vodacom claim to have SA’s best network, which raises the question as to what this claim means and which operator really has the best mobile network.
Vodacom explained that it bases its claims on a “combination of factors including speed scores, coverage, customer satisfaction, and brand recognition”.
Vodacom used to rely on objective network tests for its claims, but when these results started to show that MTN had the best network, the operator changed its tune.
MTN executive for corporate affairs Jacqui O’Sullivan told MyBroadband that their network claims are based on industry-accepted independent network testing methodologies and operator benchmarks.
“The important aspect to highlight is that any claim should be independent and the result, as well as methodology, should be available for public scrutiny,” O’Sullivan said.
She highlighted that Vodacom used an internal benchmark for one of its claims last year, which is not independent.
“The danger with internal benchmarks and surveys is that the results are subjective or not conclusive and no industry standards can therefore be applied,” O’Sullivan said.
Objective network measurements are key
MTN said its preference is to be as objective as possible and consistent in its measures used for claims.
“We make use of international independent, proven, and reputable bodies such as Ookla and P3 Communications Best in Test certifications to make our claims,” O’Sullivan said.
“Our claims are also being complimented by MyBroadband’s Mobile Network Quality report, which closely mirrors Ookla.”
She added that MTN uses comprehensive certification campaigns like P3 Communication’s Best in Test to evaluate speed, web browsing, Facebook, and YouTube performance.
These tests provide a comprehensive customer experience measurement and rank networks accordingly.
“At MTN, we are clear that our best network claims are founded on empirical evidence and sound research,” she said.
What the network performance results say
There are three major mobile network performance tests in South Africa – MyBroadband Insights, Ookla, and P3 Communications.
Here are how these three companies gather network test results:
- MyBroadband – Controlled drive tests and crowdsourced data through mobile speed test apps.
- Ookla – Crowdsourced data through mobile speed test apps.
- P3 Communications – Controlled drive tests and crowd sourced experience data collected across thousands of Android devices.
With the similar testing methodologies and network performance measurements the results should be similar, which is exactly what the tests show.
Here are the latest results from these network performance measurements:
- MyBroadband – MTN has the best network in South Africa.
- Ookla – MTN has the best network in South Africa.
- P3 Communications – MTN has the best network in South Africa.
Why MTN has the best network
MTN’s superior network performance is no surprise considering it has invested R43 billion in its network over the past four years.
This is significantly more than Vodacom, which means that MTN now has a more extensive 4G network with better performance.
The large network investment allowed MTN to roll out the latest network technologies which include:
- Deployment of Advanced Antenna Technologies (such as 4×4 MIMO).
- 3CC (3 Carrier Combining).
- Advanced features such as 256QAM.
One of the biggest factors which improved network performance in recent months is MTN’s rollout of LTE sites on the 900MHz band.
The company has already rolled out thousands of new LTE sites on the 900MHz band which, combined with 3CC, enables higher speeds and better indoor coverage.
MTN’s “Best Network” marketing material
The image below shows MTN’s latest marketing campaigns regarding its network.