Connecting Africa is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them. Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 3099067.

Digital Entertainment

MTN Edges Out Vodacom to Claim SA's Mobile Video Quality Crown

Article Image
MTN provides the best mobile video service in South Africa, according to network service measurement specialist OpenSignal.

The service metrics company published the results of its mobile video experience ranking on country level in September. While the usual suspects topped the download speed rankings -- South Korea, Norway, Singapore -- and a surprise package beat everyone else to lead the overall experience -- Czech Republic -- our attention was drawn to South Africa. It was the highest-ranking country from Africa, at number 39, achieving a "Good" score of 55.87 and ranking higher than the likes of France, Ireland and the US.

Now the firm has released more detailed insights into the mobile video experience metrics on an operator-by-operator level. In the South African market, MTN narrowly edged out Vodacom to lead the country ranking with a score of 60.9 vs. Vodacom's 58.6. Both scores are higher than South Africa's national total of 55.87.

MTN's score, it's worth noting, is higher than the country average for Hong Kong, the UK, Japan and Germany, amongst many others.

OpenSignal uses its own proprietary on-device tool to gather real time data of consumers video consumption data, including connection mode (3G, 4G or WiFi, though WiFi connection-related data is not used in this report), data speed, bit rate, loading and stalling time, and more. It then analyses the relevant data related to videos streamed from the world's largest content providers.

The "overall video experience" is a metric used by OpenSignal to quantify the end-user experience of mobile video consumption. "This approach is built upon detailed studies which have derived a relationship between technical parameters, including picture quality, video loading time and stall rate, with the perceived video experience as reported by real people," explains OpenSignal. This means, for example, that high download speeds alone are not enough to deliver the best experience, and vice versa.

The way in which service providers manage video streaming has a great deal of influence on end-user experience. For example, throttling after a user hits a certain data limit is a common practice in the US, which would negatively impact user experience: This helps to explain the US's relatively low position in the overall ranking. (See There's a big difference between download speed and mobile video experience.)

The South African operators must have performed well in a number of key metrics, as the country's position on the overall experience table is much higher than its ranking on the download speed table.

Content providers also understand well that most consumers would prioritize smooth play over high resolution while they are on the move. That is one reason why services such as Netflix and YouTube give consumers the option to "optimize" (a.k.a. "downgrade") resolution when their devices are connected to cellular networks. Service providers such as T-Mobile in the US are offering optimized resolution by default unless users opt out. Another reason for optimization options is to save mobile data consumption, which would also make lots of sense for the African markets, where the cost of data services can be among the highest in the world. (See Spectrum Hope for SA's Mobile Operators.)

Wei Shi, Site Editor, Connecting Africa

Innovation hub


Interview: Qualcomm execs on mentorship for African startups

Qualcomm Technology VP for Engineering, Sudeepto Roy, and Elizabeth Migwalla, VP for Government Affairs, join Connecting Africa for a video interview about Qualcomm's Make in Africa Mentorship Program.


Hot startup of the month: Pan-African fintech KamaPay

This month's hot startup is pan-African fintech KamaPay, which helps individuals and businesses make cross-border payments on the continent.

More Innovation hub

Latest video

More videos

Sponsored video

More videos

Industry announcements

More Industry announcements

Flash poll

All polls

Africa Tech Perspectives


Deep dive into East Africa's tech startup ecosystem

New survey reveals a lack of access to investors, reliance on international VCs and global recession trends as the biggest barriers for East African tech startups to access funds.


Challenges and opportunities for women's tech careers

A new survey reveals that COVID-19, the cost-of-living crisis, skills shortages and a lack of mentorship have negatively affected women's career development over the past two years.


Survey: Opportunities for Women in Tech

Take our new survey for women across Asia, Europe and Africa looking at the biggest challenges and opportunities for women-led enterprises and trends in tech careers for women.

More AfricaCom perspectives

Upcoming events

London Tech Week
June 13-16, 2023
Queen Elizabeth II Centre, Broad Sanctuary, London SW1P 3EE
Cybertech Africa 2023
August 1-2, 2023
Kigali Convention Center, Kigali, Rwanda
Africa Tech Festival, Home of AfricaCom and AfricaTech
November 13-16, 2023
CTICC, Cape Town
More Upcoming events

Guest Perspectives


Omdia View: February 2023

By Omdia Analysts

In February 2023 key events in the Middle East and Africa included a major Internet project for Africa's underserved by Liquid Intelligent Technologies and Microsoft as well as a 5G launch in Tanzania – that and more in this month's Omdia View.


Omdia View: July 2022

By Omdia Analysts

Kenya and Zambia move towards 5G with new spectrum allocations while Tunisie Telecom plans to shut down its 3G network - that and more in this month's Omdia View.

More Guest Perspectives

Partner perspectives

All Partner Perspectives

Like us on Facebook

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign Up