The best and worst mobile networks in South Africa

MyBroadband Insights has released the 2020 Mobile Network Quality Report, which shows that MTN has the best mobile network in South Africa.

The report is based on 1.2 million speed tests which were performed by 41,000 MyBroadband Speed Test App users across South Africa between 1 January and 31 December 2020.

The research shows that South Africa had an average download speed of 29.33Mbps and an average upload speed of 11.24Mbps last year.

MTN had the highest average download speed at 52.84Mbps, followed by Vodacom on 29.39Mbps, Telkom on 21.58Mbps, Cell C on 17.46Mbps, and Rain on 11.90Mbps.

During 2020, the average network speed of South Africa’s mobile operators increased significantly despite higher data usage.

This was made possible by temporary spectrum which was issued to Vodacom, MTN, Telkom, and Rain by the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA) during the lockdown.

The additional spectrum helped operators to increase their network capacity and improve their average network performance.

Vodacom and MTN also launched 5G networks during the lockdown using the temporary spectrum.

There was, however, one operator which saw its download speed decline over the last year – Rain.

The average download speed on Rain’s network declined from 15.20Mbps in the first quarter of the year to 11.41Mbps in the fourth quarter.

This significant decline was a result of network congestion in areas where Rain oversubscribed its service.

Rain quadrupled its sign-ups after the lockdown kicked in, which means it struggled to cope with the increased demand for data.

The situation was aggravated by the fact that Rain offers uncapped products and that many people stuck at home started to use streaming services like Netflix to stay entertained.

Best mobile network in South Africa

To determine the best mobile network in South Africa, a “Network Quality Score” was calculated for each network using download speed, upload speed, and latency.

The Network Quality Score out of 10 then shows how the network performed in relation to other networks.

MTN reigned supreme in 2020 with a Network Quality Score of 9.86, followed by Vodacom on 6.17, Telkom on 4.87, Cell C on 4.35, and Rain on 4.35.

The table below provides an overview of the mobile network rankings in South Africa for 2020.

Mobile Network Performance
Network Operator Download Speed (Mbps) Upload Speed (Mbps) Latency (ms) Network Quality Score
MTN 52.84 19.92 36 9.86
Vodacom 29.39 10.43 37 6.17
Telkom 21.58 5.85 36 4.87
Cell C 17.46 7.91 42 4.35
Rain 11.90 9.93 33 4.35

Download speed change during 2020

Download speed change during 2020
Network Operator Q1 Download (Mbps) Q2 Download (Mbps) Q3 Download (Mbps) Q4 Download (Mbps)
MTN 43.47 52.28 55.11 64.31
Vodacom 29.79 29.08 29.80 33.71
Telkom 19.11 20.16 23.60 25.74
Cell C 17.52 17.62 17.82 18.79
Rain 15.20 10.64 10.02 11.41

Average Mobile Network Performance in 2020 (all networks)


Now read: Rain – Expectation versus reality

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The best and worst mobile networks in South Africa