MyBroadband recently tested the mobile network quality in the Western Cape as part of its countrywide mobile network testing project, including several smaller towns along road-trip heaven, Route 62.
Coverage and data throughput tests are conducted using the MyBroadband Speed Test App, running on Huawei Mate 20 Pro smartphones — the world’s first phone to support Cat. 21 LTE connections.
SIMs from Vodacom, MTN, Cell C, Telkom, and Rain were installed in our test devices, and performance tests were conducted at regular intervals while driving.
MyBroadband’s speed test servers are hosted in Teraco’s vendor-neutral data centres to ensure an impartial testing environment.
Mobile Network Quality Score
One of our test routes was along the N2 from Port Elizabeth to George, turning North to Oudtshoorn on the N12, and then on to Hermanus via Route 62. Thousands of speed tests were conducted along the route and in the towns themselves.
Averages are calculated for the download speed, upload speed, and latency measured in each area. These key network performance indicators are then combined into a Network Quality Score out of 10.
Each of the three averages is normalised and weighted according to importance. The weight for each performance indicator was derived from the results of a MyBroadband survey. The survey asked IT professionals how they rate the importance of download speed, upload speed, and latency when choosing a mobile data connection.
Understanding the maps below: Each of the red dots indicate a test in that area. Larger red dots indicate multiple tests in the area.
George Mobile Network Quality — Vodacom loses to Cell C and Telkom
Cell C narrowly beat Vodacom for third place in George thanks to its comparable average download speed (16.4Mbps for Cell C vs. 16.7Mbps for Vodacom), and superior upload speeds.
Vodacom had an average upload speed of 6.7Mbps in George, while Cell C’s was 9Mbps.
Telkom achieved second place thanks to its higher average download speed and better latency.
MTN walked away with the crown, having posted the best average results in all of the key indicators — 23.8Mbps download speed, 11.3Mbps upload speed, and 33 milliseconds average latency.
Oudtshoorn Mobile Network Quality
If this were an ostrich race, you wouldn’t be able to make out the winner in all the Klein Karoo dust being kicked up.
Of the four main contenders (MTN, Vodacom, Cell C, Telkom), Telkom had the lowest average download speed of 12.7Mbps. However, it also had the second-highest upload speed (9.2Mbps) and much better average latency than Cell C, bringing it within 0.1 of Cell C’s network quality score.
Cell C had the highest average download speed in Oudtshoorn of 16Mbps, but only placed third because of its relatively poor upload speeds (4.8Mbps) and average latency (66ms). Cell C’s average upload speed and latency were the lowest among all five of the networks tested.
MTN and Vodacom were snapping at one another’s necks for the win. MTN inched ahead thanks to its slightly higher download speed (15.4Mbps vs. 15.2Mbps) and somewhat better latency (36ms vs. 46ms).
Barrydale Mobile Network Quality — surprise showing by Rain
Rain managed to scoop second place in the small town of Barrydale with an average download speed of 22.9Mbps. While it doesn’t have wide network coverage in the area, where it does have infrastructure in place the network is one of the fastest Barrydale has to offer.
Telkom and Vodacom had the same average download speed of 18Mbps, but Telkom once again pulled ahead of Vodacom, this time thanks to its superior upload speeds (8.6Mbps vs. 3.5Mbps).
MTN achieved a perfect score with average download speeds of 27.6Mbps, upload speeds of 9.5Mbps, and latency of 26ms.
Montagu Mobile Network Quality — Domination from Vodacom
Vodacom had the best mobile data network in Montagu by a significant margin, with an average download speed of 24.6Mbps, upload speeds of 8.3Mbps, and latency of 42ms.
This is great news for subscribers on Telkom, which had none of its own infrastructure in the town. Telkom users would have no choice but to roam on Vodacom while in Montagu.
No tests were recorded for Rain either, suggesting that it has no coverage in Montagu.
While Vodacom won by a significant margin, that doesn’t mean MTN and Cell C’s networks were necessarily bad. To give an indication, Cell C, which came last, had an average download speed of 8.1Mbps. MTN’s was 9.3Mbps.
Bonnievale Mobile Network Quality — Cell C decimates MTN and Vodacom
Cell C delivered a surprising performance in Bonnievale, offering average download speeds of 32.8Mbps.
MTN came second with 14.6Mbps, while Vodacom delivered shocking results with an average download speed of around 920kbps (0.9Mbps)
Where we stayed
Thanks to our project partner Afristay, we stayed in comfort while testing the cellular networks in George and along Route 62.
Equleni guest farm is a perfect getaway for people looking for a break from the city, but who still want the comforts offered by a good guest house — including solid Wi-Fi.
Nestled in a sea of fynbos on a dirt road just off of the N2 between Sedgefield and George, Equleni offers self-catering cabins equipped with gas stoves.
For the winter months, the units also come equipped with gas heaters.
In addition to amazing sunset views over the nearby nature reserve, Equleni also has pet-friendly options for those who can travel with their dogs.
De Denne is a spruced-up old country house which offers 4-star luxury accommodation just outside Oudtshoorn.
We received excellent service, including a free car wash for our beast of a Hilux bakkie, and fantastic dinner and breakfast from their on-site restaurant.
Dinner included a choice of meats grilled to perfection over a proper braai, while breakfast was an ample continental buffet and a prepared-to-order hot breakfast.
Photos of the house that acts as Mimosa Lodge’s street entrance belie the beautiful gardens and views from the suites tucked away at the rear of the property.
Mimosa does its best to encourage guests to explore the beautiful town of Montagu while they are visiting. Many great restaurants are within walking distance of the boutique hotel, and there is much to see and do during the day.
In addition to being a hotel, Mimosa has one of the best restaurants in town. It is owned and run by Swiss chef Bernhard Hess, who will serve guests a four-course set menu on request.
The Mimosa Restaurant is gourmet dining at its finest, with fresh vegetables harvested from the hotel’s own gardens or sourced from local providers. Hess is not afraid to charge for his attention to detail and the expertise of his kitchen, with the set menu priced at R499 per person while we visited.
It was far too much food for us, having snacked on junk all through our road trip along Route 62, so we did not try Mimosa’s dinner menu. The host who greeted us at reception was more than willing to point us to one of the many great alternatives in Montagu.