Mobile broadband coverage battle

South Africa’s mobile operators are investing billions of Rands into upgrading and expanding their mobile broadband networks.

With the strong growth in mobile data revenue, the cellular operators are fighting for market share through better coverage, faster speeds and more affordable services.

This raises the question of which mobile operator is leading the mobile broadband coverage race.

According to the Department of Communications, which quoted commissioned research from BMI-T, South Africa has 75% broadband population coverage. However, the DoC did not provide a breakdown of where this coverage comes from.

The mobile operators give feedback

According to information received from the operators themselves, Vodacom is leading the mobile data race with 80% population coverage.

Cell C said that they currently cover 72% of South Africa with their 3G network, while MTN claims 65% 3G network coverage.

8ta has not provided their broadband population coverage, but 8ta head Amith Maharaj recently said that they now have over 2,000 3G sites in their network.

It should be noted that network coverage is calculated differently from one operator to the next, which means that the figures should not be seen as an objectively verified comparison.

The following table provides an overview of the figures provided by the mobile operators.

Operator Number of 3G sites Claimed population coverage
Vodacom 5,538 80%
MTN 3,534 (U2100), 317 (U900) 65%
Cell C Unknown 72%
8ta 2,000 Unknown

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Mobile broadband coverage battle