Vodacom 5G vs Vodacom 4G – Side-by-side comparison

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

This 5G network is available on 20 live 5G sites which 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 was granted by ICASA. Vodacom also installed new radios to support the 5G network and new frequency band.

The good news is that its 5G network will continue to operate after this temporary spectrum is handed back after the current state of disaster.

At that point, Vodacom will roam entirely on Liquid Telecom’s 5G network. “The loss of temporary spectrum will not impact customer experience or our 5G rollout,” Vodacom said.

Vodacom added that the performance of its 4G network will not be impacted by the launch of its 5G network, as no 4G spectrum was re-farmed.

The company said that, given enough spectrum, 5G will work at average speeds of between 150Mbps and 200Mbps.

“The speeds and latency will be determined by the coverage at the user’s location and the load on the network at a given point in time,” said Vodacom.

“Other factors that need to be taken into consideration include how far away you are from a mast, which spectrum is being used, and how many people around you are using 5G.”

Latency and transmission

Vodacom said upload speeds through 5G will initially not be as good as download speeds, and can be expected to be between 10Mbps and 20Mbps.

This is because a smartphone has lower transmission power to communicate back to a 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 and downlink decoupling, it said.

Vodacom added that 5G latency is influenced by how far away a site is from its core network, and distance from a speed test server.

“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,” Vodacom said.

5G versus 4G performance

To compare Vodacom’s 5G and 4G networks, MyBroadband used two LG V50 ThinQ 5G smartphones – the only 5G phone currently available in South Africa.

Multiple speed tests were performed on Vodacom’s 5G and 4G networks at three locations – Menlyn, Eco Park, and Midstream.

The tests were performed at the same location and at the same time to ensure a like-for-like comparison.

All the locations were close to the 5G/4G tower with a clear line of sight, which means the results reflect near perfect conditions.

It showed that Vodacom 5G easily outperformed 4G on download speed – but this was not the case with upload speed and latency, however.

The average 4G upload speed was nearly triple that of the 5G network, while 4G latency was lower than 5G latency.

The tables below provide an overview of the performance of Vodacom’s 5G and 4G networks.

Vodacom Network Performance
Component 5G 4G
Average Download Speed 251Mbps 117Mbps
Maximum Download Speed 274Mbps 144Mbps
Average Upload Speed 14Mbps 37Mbps
Maximum Upload Speed 14Mbps 46Mbps
Average Latency 27ms 24ms
Minimum Latency 23ms 20ms


5G 4G
Download Speed Upload Speed Latency Download Speed Upload Speed Latency
273.94Mbps 13.89Mbps 26ms 140.25Mbps 45.15Mbps 20ms
266.35Mbps 14.10Mbps 27ms 137.28Mbps 44.34Mbps 22ms
265.08Mbps 13.85Mbps 27ms 129.88Mbps 40.20Mbps 23ms
264.13Mbps 14.17Mbps 26ms 120.80Mbps 42.52Mbps 22ms
261.87Mbps 13.43Mbps 26ms 115.57Mbps 44.81Mbps 24ms
266.28Mbps 13.89Mbps 26ms 128.76Mbps 43.41Mbps 22ms

*Average performance in bold

Eco Park

Eco Park
5G 4G
Download Speed Upload Speed Latency Download Speed Upload Speed Latency
268.64Mbps 13.63Mbps 26ms 143.76Mbps 44.20Mbps 21ms
237.58Mbps 14.24Mbps 29ms 140.50Mbps 44.45Mbps 25ms
236.00Mbps 13.87Mbps 23ms 139.49Mbps 46.40Mbps 29ms
220.78Mbps 14.24Mbps 27ms 136.15Mbps 40.49Mbps 21ms
218.77Mbps 13.89Mbps 28ms 128.38Mbps 43.39Mbps 24ms
236.36Mbps 13.98Mbps 27ms 137.66Mbps 43.79Mbps 24ms

*Average performance in bold


5G 4G
Download Speed Upload Speed Latency Download Speed Upload Speed Latency
267.99Mbps 13.95Mbps 30ms 93.00Mbps 39.07Mbps 23ms
251.08Mbps 14.32Mbps 30ms 87.60Mbps 18.47Mbps 24ms
248.71Mbps 13.99Mbps 28ms 85.59Mbps 10.01Mbps 27ms
247.32Mbps 14.10Mbps 28ms 81.82Mbps 13.26Mbps 27ms
243.08Mbps 14.19Mbps 28ms 78.45Mbps 37.32Mbps 28ms
251.64Mbps 14.11Mbps 29ms 85.30Mbps 23.63Mbps 26ms

*Average performance in bold

Now read: MyBroadband tests Vodacom 5G – Unexpected results

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Vodacom 5G vs Vodacom 4G – Side-by-side comparison