MTN 5G vs 4G – Side-by-side speed tests

MTN recently launched its 5G network in three cities in South Africa – Johannesburg, Cape Town, and Bloemfontein.

The service is offered in two variants – 5G home Wi-Fi and 5G mobile.

  • 5G home Wi-Fi – Home-connected plug and play solution that connects Wi-Fi-enabled devices.
  • 5G mobile – Connects to MTN’s 5G network for fast connectivity at home or on the go.

MTN SA CTIO Giovanni Chiarelli said this launch was made possible, in part, by the recent allocation of temporary spectrum by ICASA.

MTN delivers 5G connectivity using four spectrum bands – 3.5 GHz (58 sites), 2,100MHz and 1,800MHz (35 sites), 700MHz (5 sites), and 28GHz (3 sites).

The operator is also re-farming some of its 4G spectrum to allow it to run 4G and 5G spectrum, at the same time, in the same band.

MTN’s 5G is currently only available in Bryanston and Honeydew in Gauteng, Blouberg in Cape Town, and Universitas in Bloemfontein.

MTN SA CEO Godfrey Motsa said their 5G network rollout will be ramped up to more sites once government allocates permanent spectrum through the planned auction later this year.

“Our call to the regulator and government is to release permanent 4G and 5G spectrum as a matter of urgency so that we can fuel the digital revolution,” said Motsa.

5G versus 4G performance

MTN’s 5G home Wi-Fi promises average speeds of 100Mbps and peak speeds of 500Mbps, while 5G mobile offers average speeds of 50Mbps and peak speeds of 500Mbps.

To compare the performance of MTN’s 5G and 4G mobile networks, we performed a series of speed tests on the MyBroadband Speed Test app using two Huawei P40 Pro smartphones.

We ran the tests on MTN’s 5G and 4G networks at four locations – Epsom Downs Shopping Centre, Design Quarter, The Palazzo at Montecasino, and Nando’s Bryanston.

To ensure a like-for-like comparison, the tests were performed at the same locations and at the same times.

For all the locations, we ensured we had full signal on both the 5G and 4G test phones, and used the MyBroadband Speed Test app’s signal monitor to verify that we were close to MTN’s towers.

The test results showed that MTN 5G’s download and upload speeds were almost four-times as fast as its 4G network.

The average 5G download speed from all four locations was measured at 616Mbps, while the 4G download speed averaged 163Mbps.

The 5G network managed an average upload speed of 90Mbps, compared with the 26Mbps on the 4G connection.

Additionally, the average latency on the 5G network was around half that of the 4G network.

The tables below provide an overview of the performance of MTN’s 5G and 4G networks in our tests.

MTN Network Performance
Component 5G 4G
Average Download Speed 616Mbps 163Mbps
Maximum Download Speed 698Mbps 194Mbps
Average Upload Speed 90Mbps 26Mbps
Maximum Upload Speed 105Mbps 29Mbps
Average Latency 12ms 22ms
Minimum Latency 10ms 20ms

Epsom Downs Shopping Centre

Epsom Downs Shopping Centre
5G 4G
Download Speed Upload Speed Latency Download Speed Upload Speed Latency
667.65Mbps 83.14Mbps 14ms 193.62Mbps 26.96Mbps 20ms
617.65Mbps 89.85Mbps 13ms 179.60Mbps 26.71Mbps 21ms
609.69Mbps 75.35Mbps 12ms 175.82Mbps 28.73Mbps 20ms
603.73Mbps 85.54Mbps 13ms 171.05Mbps 27.44Mbps 22ms
603.58Mbps 99.84Mbps 14ms 162.53Mbps 27.15Mbps 23ms
620Mbps 87Mbps 13ms 177Mbps 29Mbps 21ms

*Average performance in bold

Design Quarter

Design Quarter
5G 4G
Download Speed Upload Speed Latency Download Speed Upload Speed Latency
652.97Mbps 102.87Mbps 12ms 169.86Mbps 23.53Mbps 23ms
652.68Mbps 104.89Mbps 12ms 168.32Mbps 24.80Mbps 24ms
611.86Mbps 105.08Mbps 12ms 167.07Mbps 25.13Mbps 28ms
604.39Mbps 102.73Mbps 12ms 157.40Mbps 24.20Mbps 22ms
574.61Mbps 103.57Mbps 12ms 155.25Mbps 24.46Mbps 24ms
619Mbps 104Mbps 12ms 164Mbps 24Mbps 24ms

*Average performance in bold

Montecasino Palazzo

Montecasino Palazzo
5G 4G
Download Speed Upload Speed Latency Download Speed Upload Speed Latency
639.42Mbps 76.74Mbps 11ms 186.52Mbps 22.48Mbps 21ms
597.04Mbps 63.72Mbps 12ms 170.66Mbps 22.49Mbps 21ms
589.95Mbps 75.55Mbps 13ms 162.06Mbps 23.18Mbps 23ms
565.48Mbps 66.29Mbps 13ms 161.09Mbps 25.18Mbps 22ms
559.89Mbps 65.86Mbps 12ms 158.41Mbps 21.98Mbps 21ms
590Mbps 70Mbps 12ms 168Mbps 23Mbps 22ms

*Average performance in bold

Nando’s Bryanston

Nando’s Bryanston
5G 4G
Download Speed Upload Speed Latency Download Speed Upload Speed Latency
698.46Mbps 99.10Mbps 10ms 152.46Mbps 28.54Mbps 21ms
634.44Mbps 98.88Mbps 12ms 146.04Mbps 28.22Mbps 21ms
626.44Mbps 100.83Mbps 11ms 142.81Mbps 28.88Mbps 21ms
620.32Mbps 102.69Mbps 12ms 141.77Mbps 27.86Mbps 23ms
590.55Mbps 101.90Mbps 11ms 139.29Mbps 27.84Mbps 23ms
634Mbps 101Mbps 11ms 144Mbps 28Mbps 22ms

*Average performance in bold

Now read: MTN 5G tested – Blisteringly fast speeds

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MTN 5G vs 4G – Side-by-side speed tests