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MTN was South Africa's best network in 2020 – report

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MTN has been ranked as South Africa's best network for 2020 for speed and network quality, according to the MyBroadband Insights 2020 Mobile Network Quality Report.

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

The results show that MTN had the best network in the country and also performed best in the cities of Tshwane, Johannesburg, Cape Town and Durban.

The research showed that South Africa had an average download speed of 29.33 Mbit/s and an average upload speed of 11.24 Mbit/s last year, while average latency in SA was 35ms.

MTN had the highest average download speed at 52.84 Mbit/s, followed by Vodacom (29.39 Mbit/s), Telkom (21.58 Mbit/s), Cell C (17.46 Mbit/s) and data-only network Rain trailing at 11.90 Mbit/s.

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

One of the reasons outlined in the report was the temporary spectrum which was issued to Vodacom, MTN, Telkom and Rain by the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA) during SA's lockdown.

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

Vodacom and MTN both launched 5G networks during the lockdown using the temporary spectrum, while Rain began rolling out 5G services in 2019.

(See MTN 5G goes live in South Africa, Vodacom launches 5G in South Africa, and Rain Boasts 5G Network Launch in South Africa.)

When it came to upload speeds MTN also was ranked at fastest in 2020 at 19.92 Mbit/s; followed by Vodacom (10.43 Mbit/s); Rain (9.93 Mbit/s); Cell C (7.91 Mbit/s) with Telkom in last place (5.85 Mbit/s).

Rainy days

Rain quadrupled its signups after South Africa's lockdown kicked in, but its increased popularity was not necessarily a good thing as the network struggled to cope with higher demand for data.

It ended up ranking as the worst network in 2020, and the report shows that the average download speed on Rain's network declined from 15.20 Mbit/s in the first quarter of the year to 11.41 Mbit/s in the fourth quarter.

"This significant decline was a result of network congestion in areas where Rain oversubscribed its service. 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," MyBroadband Insights explained in a statement.

Network quality

The report determines the best mobile network using a "Network Quality Score" which takes into account download speed (60%), upload speed (20%) and latency (20%). The network score out of 10 then shows how each network performed in relation to others.

MTN continued to hold the top spot it had during lockdown with a Network Quality Score of 9.86 during 2020, followed by Vodacom (6.17), Telkom (4.87), and both Cell C and Rain (4.35).

*Top image is of a speed test during MTN's 5G launch in SA in 2020 (Source: MTN). Graphics Source: MyBroadband Insights 2020 Mobile Network Quality Report.

— The Staff, Connecting Africa

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