MyBroadband tests Vodacom 5G – Unexpected results

Vodacom recently launched its 5G mobile network in three cities in South Africa – Johannesburg, Pretoria, and Cape Town.

Vodacom’s 5G network supports both mobile and fixed-wireless services and is currently available on 20 live 5G sites.

These 20 sites are grouped into six clusters – Midrand, Sandton, Menlyn, Centurion, Waterfall/Sunninghill, and Century City.

Vodacom’s 5G network uses the 1 x 50MHz of temporary spectrum in the 3.5GHz band which has been granted by ICASA, and on the few sites where it is roaming on the Liquid Telecom network, Liquid Telecom has deployed its spectrum.

This follows Vodacom and Liquid Telecom concluding managed network services and national roaming agreements for a national 5G network in December 2019.

Liquid Telecom’s spectrum includes a 1 x 56MHz permanent assignment and 1 x 4MHz temporary assignment, for a single 1 x 60MHz Liquid Telecom carrier.

Vodacom said the deployment of its 5G network will help it to manage the 40% increase in mobile network traffic and the 250% increase in fixed traffic it has experienced during the COVID-19 lockdown.

The equipment used to test Vodacom’s 5G network

To test Vodacom’s 5G network, MyBroadband purchased an LG V50 ThinQ 5G smartphone – the only 5G phone currently available in South Africa.

The LG V50 ThinQ 5G is hard to find in South Africa, but excellent client service from Vodacom World made the purchasing process easy – a big thank you to Vodacom World employee Grayson.

We also purchased a new prepaid Vodacom SIM to test the network. The sales agent assured us that all SIMs are provisioned to use the 5G network.

MyBroadband inserted the SIM into the phone, booted it up, and loaded data after the SIM was activated.

The phone immediately picked up Vodacom’s 5G network – exactly as the Vodacom agent said.

Testing Vodacom’s 5G network

To test Vodacom’s 5G mobile network, we used their coverage map to select testing locations.

The testing locations covered Vodacom’s five 5G clusters in Gauteng – Midrand, Sandton, Menlyn, Centurion, and Waterfall/Sunninghill.

The tests were conducted on 5 May 2020 between 11:00 and 19:30.

The first stop was Menlyn, and we quickly realised that the coverage map was not an accurate reflection of where Vodacom’s 5G service is available.

We only had a 5G signal when we had a direct line-of-sight with the tower – or at least when we were very close to it.

The moment you moved away from the tower, especially when there was no longer line-of-sight, the 5G signal was lost.

This was unexpected. We expected the higher-frequency 3.5GHz spectrum to have some coverage constraints, but not to the extent we experienced.

The poor coverage may also be a result of Vodacom only seeming to have activated a single 5G site in the area.

Vodacom 5G network performance

MyBroadband performed multiple speed tests using the MyBroadband Speed Test App in locations around Vodacom’s 5G sites in Gauteng.

For these tests, the download speed, upload speed, and latency were measured to a Johannesburg speed test server hosted at the NAPAfrica peering point.

The results were consistent. The download speeds for nearly all the tests ranged between 100Mbps and 200Mbps.

The upload speeds typically ranged between 12Mbps and 15Mbps. When the signal strength dropped, however, the upload speed quickly deteriorated to below 10Mbps.

The latency was very consistent at between 28ms and 32ms. This increased to just below 40ms when the signal deteriorated.

What was striking was that the typical upload speed on 5G was lower than what we experienced on Vodacom’s 4G network.

Vodacom said upload speeds will not be as good as download speeds initially, as the user’s device “has lower transmission power to communicate back to the base station, relative to a base station communicating to the customer device”.

This is combined with other elements such as the lower propagation characteristics of higher frequency bands, such as 3.5GHz.

“Uplink performance will improve as newer devices support capabilities such as uplink downlink decoupling,” said Vodacom.

The latency is then influenced by how far away a site is from the core network and a speed test server, added Vodacom.

“At the moment 5G latencies will be very similar to 4G, until new elements such as mobile edge computing and new capabilities like network slicing are introduced.”

The table below provides an overview of the performance testing on Vodacom’s 5G network in Gauteng.

Vodacom 5G Network Performance
Component Performance Area
Average Download Speed 154Mbps Gauteng
Maximum Download Speed 200Mbps Midstream
Minimum Download Speed 104Mbps Midrand
Average Upload Speed 14Mbps Gauteng
Maximum Upload Speed 40Mbps Noordwyk
Minimum Upload Speed 0.6Mbps Hyde Park
Average Latency 31ms Gauteng
Maximum Latency 40ms Waterfall
Minimum Latency 27ms Waterkloof Glen

Midstream Estate

The performance in Midstream Estate was very good, partly due to the fact that most tests were done very close to the Vodacom 5G tower in the area.

Midstream Estate
Test Location Download Speed Upload Speed Latency
Location 1 200.041Mbps 14.260Mbps 29ms
Location 2 195.260Mbps 9.133Mbps 30ms
Location 3 161.321Mbps 13.765Mbps 30ms
Location 4 139.696Mbps 14.115Mbps 29ms


The performance in Menlyn was highly dependant on the location. There was essentially one area – Menlyn Maine – in which the 5G tower was located, which had good Vodacom 5G coverage.

Test Location Download Speed Upload Speed Latency
Location 1 176.810Mbps 14.407Mbps 28ms
Location 2 169.210Mbps 7.041Mbps 28ms
Location 3 155.306Mbps 5.569Mbps 33ms
Location 4 149.048Mbps 13.765Mbps 28ms


MyBroadband could not find any 5G signal in Hatfield despite driving around for 30 minutes in the areas which should have had coverage.

Test Location Download Speed Upload Speed Latency
Location 1
Location 2
Location 3
Location 4

Eco Park

After we located the Vodacom 5G tower, which was close to ICASA’s offices, the performance was in line with that in other locations.

Eco Park
Test Location Download Speed Upload Speed Latency
Location 1 118.639Mbps 14.294Mbps 28ms
Location 2 132.982Mbps 13.887Mbps 30ms
Location 3 137.683Mbps 11.735Mbps 30ms
Location 4 146.533Mbps 14.096Mbps 29ms


It was difficult to locate a 5G signal in Waterfall. There were only a few spots in the area where we found coverage.

Test Location Download Speed Upload Speed Latency
Location 1 123.074Mbps 6.036Mbps 29ms
Location 2 143.613Mbps 9.937Mbps 30ms
Location 3 147.882Mbps 8.877Mbps 40ms
Location 4 151.043Mbps 6.455Mbps 30ms

Hyde Park

We located the 5G signal close to the Hyde Park Corner shopping centre. It quickly disappeared as we moved away from the shopping centre.

Hyde Park
Test Location Download Speed Upload Speed Latency
Location 1 161.855Mbps 13.355Mbps 29ms
Location 2 169.216Mbps 20.282Mbps 38ms
Location 3 174.826Mbps 14.113Mbps 28ms
Location 4 116.725Mbps 0.645Mbps 31ms

Vodacom World

There was good coverage close to Vodacom World and in the Noordwyk area. What stood out about the performance of the 5G network in this area is the high peak upload speeds – which were absent in other areas.

Vodacom World
Test Location Download Speed Upload Speed Latency
Location 1 157.765Mbps 7.050Mbps 35ms
Location 2 135.101Mbps 40.030Mbps 28ms
Location 3 125.405Mbps 40.423Mbps 33ms
Location 4 104.173Mbps 14.393Mbps 30ms

Now read: Vodacom launches 5G mobile network

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MyBroadband tests Vodacom 5G – Unexpected results