Mobile Network Quality Report showed that MTN has by far the best mobile network in South Africa.
MTN’s average download speed in Q2 was 52.28Mbps, well ahead of Vodacom on 29.08Mbps, Telkom on 20.16Mbps, Cell C on 17.62Mbps, and Rain on 10.64Mbps.
MTN’s average upload speed of 18.92Mbps was also much higher than Vodacom (11.36Mbps), Rain (9.68Mbps), Cell C (8.49Mbps), and Telkom (6.24Mbps).
What is particularly impressive is that the average download speed on MTN’s network increased by 20% during the lockdown.
This was despite a big increase in mobile traffic. MTN said its data traffic more than doubled from this time last year, mainly due to many businesses adopting a work-from-home policy.
The lockdown also resulted in a shift in geographic consumption, with very low usage in business CBDs and higher than normal usage in residential areas.
MTN SA spokesperson Jacqui O’Sullivan said their network remained stable throughout the lockdown thanks to the continuous end-to-end monitoring of network capacity across their entire operation.
The images below provide an overview of the comparative network performance of South Africa’s five mobile operators.
How MTN became the best network in South Africa
MTN’s exceptional network performance did not happen by accident. The company invested over R50 billion in its network in the past five years and made sure it optimised this spend.
This money was spent on growing the operator’s 4G and 5G footprint, modernising its network, and rolling out new features for consumers. This included the following:
- MTN accelerated its network modernisation for 5G and 4G LTE with 4×4 MIMO.
- MTN rolled out higher-order Carrier Aggregation, like 3CA and above, to maximise the use of their spectrum bands.
- MTN rolled out low band LTE, which uses spectrum bands below 1GHz which improves coverage and significantly improves the user experience.
- The operator improved its LTE population coverage to over 96%.
- MTN focussed on best-practice implementation and concise network planning through teamwork with its vendors.
- MTN enabled Android-based Wi-Fi Calling – also known as VoWiFi – to help with indoor coverage.
- The company continued to optimise VoLTE, which offers better-perceived voice quality than 3G and a very low call setup time – much faster than 3G.
O’Sullivan added that they have also implemented measures to deal with various localised traffic volume scenarios during the lockdown.
This is in addition to optimising their radio access network, upgrading transmission capacity, improving core capacity management, and making load-balancing improvements.
“It is this commitment to maintenance and continuous investment in improving our network that we believe has put us ahead of the game,” O’Sullivan said.
Challenges faced by MTN
MTN’s network investment brings great value to its subscribers, but the operator still faces challenges because of misinformation and poor configuration.
One of the biggest problems is that many users are not allowing their devices onto 4G even though they bought an LTE enabled device.
This is usually a result of having an older SIM card or a device lock issue, where a user has locked their device to 3G or even 2G.
This is done because there is the misconception that LTE uses more battery than 3G, which is not the case.
There is also a perception that LTE is more expensive as data is depleted faster because of the faster speeds.
Most users are not aware that they can limit their YouTube throughput, and hence data consumption.
Users can also turn off data when it is not used and use data management apps to ensure background updates and app updates are limited.