Biggest-ever MyBroadband mobile network test – Here are the results

MyBroadband conducted the biggest ever mobile network testing project in South Africa earlier this year, measuring data speeds in all of South Africa’s major cities, several secondary cities, and a few small towns along the way.

The project kicked off in Gauteng in mid-May, and was made possible thanks to partnerships with Afristay, which covered the costs of accommodation around South Africa, and Huawei Mobile Devices, which provided devices with which to conduct tests.

Coverage and data throughput tests were 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.

In addition to the controlled drive tests, MyBroadband also collected results from MyBroadband Speed Test App users across the country.

Custom test benches

MyBroadband also partnered with antenna and wireless communications specialist Poynting to improve the test bench and test vehicle design, ensuring accurate network testing results.

Poynting is a global leader in the design and manufacturing of cellular antennas, which made it a perfect partner for this project.

With the help of Professor Andre Fourie and Dr. Derek Nitch, our test benches were designed to deliver accurate results.

Dedicated testing vehicle

MyBroadband also followed the guidance of Fourie and Nitch in the selection and design of its dedicated testing vehicle.

The testing vehicle—a bakkie with a fibreglass canopy—minimises the problems associated with using a passenger car, such as signal penetration issues due to the vehicle’s metal body.


Mobile Network Quality Score

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.


Gauteng test results

Johannesburg test results

Vodacom and MTN finished in a dead heat in Johannesburg, though the two networks performed quite differently across the three metrics we measured.

MTN had the lower download speed (38.5Mbps vs. 42.3Mbps), but posted higher upload speeds (18.3Mbps vs. 13.4Mbps) and had slightly better average latency.

Pretoria test results

In Pretoria, MTN achieved the best results overall and had a much higher average download speed of 52.1Mbps compared to Vodacom’s 41.6Mbps.

Gauteng overall

Based on our drive tests in the second quarter, MTN had the best mobile data network in Gauteng thanks to its better average latency and upload speed.

Fractions separated MTN from Vodacom when it came to average download speeds in the province, with MTN achieving downloads of 40.1Mbps and Vodacom getting 40.2Mbps.


Western Cape test results*

Unlike Gauteng, there was no contest in the Western Cape. MTN achieved a convincing victory over the other five mobile data networks in South Africa.

Telkom came in second, while Vodacom came in third. It should be noted that Vodacom does offer wider coverage in the Western Cape than Telkom.

Cape Town test results

The only reason MTN didn’t score a perfect 10 in Cape Town or the Western Cape overall was that Rain beat it in average latency.

*Update: The network results were recalculated and updated after an anomaly was discovered.


KwaZulu-Natal test results

Durban test results

Of all the places we tested in KwaZulu-Natal, Vodacom came closest to MTN in Durban. MTN had an average download speed of 70Mbps, while Vodacom had 63.8Mbps.

Durban mobile network quality test map and scores summary, 2019 Q2

Pietermaritzburg

Pietermaritzburg saw much lower average download speeds than Durban. MTN posted downloads of 35.8Mbps, while Vodacom’s was 24.3Mbps.

Map and network quality scores summary for Pietermaritzburg — Q2 2019

Newcastle test results

Vodacom achieved a better average latency than MTN in Newcastle, but MTN once again achieved significantly better download speeds — 34.1Mbps (MTN) vs. 22.7Mbps (Vodacom).

Richard’s Bay test results

Vodacom came in last in Richard’s Bay, while Rain took second place. Telkom had higher average download speeds than Rain (25.8Mbps vs. 22.3Mbps), but Rain had higher upload speeds and better latency.

KwaZulu-Natal overall

While MTN’s victory in KwaZulu-Natal wasn’t by the same margin as in the Western Cape, it still scored significantly better than Vodacom.

The margins were evident in the download speeds, where MTN had an overall average of 40Mbps, while Vodacom’s was 27.9Mbps.


Free State test results

MTN has the best network in the Free State. Cell C narrowly beat Vodacom for second place. This was thanks to its slightly better average latency and higher upload speeds.

Bloemfontein

While Cell C may have achieved good average performance across the whole of the Free State, its showing in Bloemfontein was poor. MTN’s average download speed was 72.7Mbps, and Vodacom’s 63.3Mbps. Cell C only managed an average download speed of 13.9Mbps in Bloemfontein.


Eastern Cape test results

East London

Telkom and Vodacom were neck-and-neck in East London, posting similar average download speeds and achieving the same network quality score. Telkom was fractionally faster, with a download speed of 20.4Mbps compared to Vodacom’s 20.3Mbps.

Cell C came close by virtue of its faster upload speed (10.9Mbps) and latency, but had slower average download speeds (16.6Mbps).

MTN had an average download speed of 22.6Mbps.

Mobile network quality tests 2019 Q2 East London scores

Port Elizabeth

The results weren’t as close in Port Elizabeth, with clear margins between the average download speeds: MTN was 25.3Mbps, Vodacom was 22.3Mbps, and Telkom was 20.5Mbps.

Uitenhage

MTN saw average download speeds of 29.1Mbps in Uitenhage. Telkom posted a solid average download speed of 26.7Mbps, but was far behind MTN in terms of upload speeds and latency.

Eastern Cape overall results

Telkom took second place from Vodacom in the Eastern Cape, with slightly faster average download speeds — 21.3Mbps vs. 19.9Mbps.

However, it should be noted that Telkom’s network footprint is much smaller than Vodacom’s, and it relies on a roaming agreement with Vodacom in the areas where it doesn’t have coverage.


Kimberley

The race in Kimberley was extremely close, with MTN posting average download speeds of 27.8Mbps, while Vodacom had 26.2Mbps.

Kimberley scores for Q2 2019 mobile network quality tests


North West test results

The North West was one of Vodacom’s few significant victories during our second quarter test. In the end, Vodacom had average download speeds of 41.5Mbps, while MTN’s was 30.8Mbps.

Potchefstroom

While the overall standings between Vodacom and MTN for the North West were relatively close, Vodacom achieved a solid victory in Potch. It posted average download speeds of 58.5Mbps, compared to MTN’s 31.2Mbps.

Potchefstroom scores for Q2 2019 MyBroadband mobile network quality tests

Klerksdorp

The race was much closer in Klerksdorp, but Vodacom still came out on top with average download speeds of 38.6Mbps, compared to 31.6Mbps from MTN.

Telkom had slightly better average download speeds than MTN in Klerksdorp of 31.9Mbps, but came third-last due to its much poorer average upload speeds.

Klerksdorp scores for Q2 2019 MyBroadband mobile network quality tests


National overall test results*

Aggregating our results for the whole country, MTN’s victory was convincing. Its average download speed across all of South Africa was 33.4Mbps

Telkom came in third because it had a slightly slower download speed than Vodacom, but its upload speed was much lower.

*Update: The network results were recalculated and updated after an anomaly was discovered.

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Biggest-ever MyBroadband mobile network test – Here are the results