Spectrum breakdown – Vodacom, MTN, Telkom, Cell C, and Rain

Spectrum is a tremendously valuable asset to South African mobile operators, partly due to the government’s inability to allocate spectrum.

Vodacom CEO Shameel Joosub said the biggest obstacle impeding the reduction of data prices is the fact that no new spectrum has been allocated in South Africa in the last 14 years.

“Lengthy delays in completing the digital migration and allocating 4G spectrum have curbed the pace at which data prices could have fallen,” Joosub said.

MTN SA CEO Godfrey Motsa said the spectrum crunch that has beset South Africa for a decade has undoubtedly hindered the health and growth of the industry.

Spectrum is such a scarce resource that Vodacom had to partner with Rain and MTN with Liquid Telecom to get access to more spectrum through roaming agreements.

Spectrum breakdown

The more spectrum an operator has, the bigger its advantage over its competitors.

This raises the question of which mobile operator in South Africa has the most spectrum.

In Telkom’s recent capital markets day presentation, the company’s consumer CEO Serame Taukobong promoted the fact that they have more spectrum than other mobile operators.

According to Taukobong, Telkom has 114MHz mobile spectrum compared to the 76Mhz which Vodacom, MTN, and Cell C have.

The table below provides an overview of spectrum which the main mobile operators have access to.

Mobile Spectrum
Spectrum Band Vodacom MTN Cell C Telkom Rain
900Mhz 22MHz 22MHz 22MHz
1,800MHz 24MHz 24MHz 24MHz 24MHz 34MHz
2,100MHz 30MHz 30MHz 30MHz 30MHz
2,300MHz 68MHz
2,600MHz 15MHz
3,500MHz 28MHz 142MHz
Total 76MHz 76MHz 76MHz 150MHz 191MHz

Now read: Mobile data prices – Here is what’s preventing price drops

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Spectrum breakdown – Vodacom, MTN, Telkom, Cell C, and Rain