Mobile Network Experience Report South Africa February 2019

South Africa

Mobile Network Experience Report
February 2019

Opensignal Active Userbase in South Africa
Total Devices
93,952
Total Measurements
422,539,509
Data Collection Period
Nov 01 Jan 29, 2019

Opensignal is the independent global standard for analyzing consumer mobile experience. Our industry reports are the definitive guide to understanding the true experience consumers receive on wireless networks.

Author
Peter Boyland Senior Analyst

Key findings

MTN puts on a sprint to draw in Download Speed Experience

MTN and Vodacom drew for our Download Speed Experience award in South Africa, after a Vodacom win six months ago. MTN managed to increase its score by nearly 2 Mbps, catching up with Vodacom whose score stayed virtually static since our last report.

MTN and Vodacom score a draw in Video Experience

We saw rivals MTN and Vodacom draw in our Video Experience metric, with both scoring just over 60 (out of 100), putting both operators in our Good category. But Cell C and Telkom were some way behind, revealing something of a two-tier mobile video experience in South Africa.

MTN keeps hold of our 4G Availability award

MTN kept its lead in our 4G Availability category, increasing its score by over 2 percentage points to maintain a lead of just over 5 percentage points. MTN also became the first South African operator to score over 80% 4G Availability on a national level, while all four operators managed to score over the 80% mark in Cape Town.

Vodacom wins Upload Speed and Latency Experience

Vodacom won a fairly close-run race in our Upload Speed Experience award with an average score of 5.5 Mbps, followed by MTN's 5.1 Mbps. Vodacom also won our Latency Experience award by a more comfortable margin — but Telkom and Cell C were once again some way behind in both metrics.

Introduction

One South African operator has dominated Opensignal's awards for a couple of years now. Vodacom has won or drawn all but one of our award categories since our first report on the market 18 months ago. However, one of its rivals is now catching up: MTN won our 4G Availability award and drew with Vodacom in both our Download Speed Experience and Video Experience metrics, as well as winning or drawing with its rival in the majority of our regional awards.

For this report, Opensignal compared the mobile network experience of South Africa's four national mobile network operators Cell C, MTN, Telkom and Vodacom to see how each fared. We've also included regional analysis of the mobile user experience in four of South Africa's biggest cities — Cape Town, Ekurhuleni, Johannesburg and Tshwane — covering all five of our award metrics in these metropoles.

Opensignal Awards Table

Mobile Experience Awards, South Africa
February 2019, South Africa Report
4G Availability
Video Experience
Download Speed Experience
Upload Speed Experience
Latency Experience
Download Image
Mobile Experience Awards Winners
February 2019, South Africa
4G Availability
Upload Speed Experience
Latency Experience
Mobile Experience Awards Draws
February 2019, South Africa
Video Experience
Download Speed Experience
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Overview

Click on metric labels below for a quick preview
4G Availability
in %
Telkom
70.9
Cell C
75.0
MTN
80.1
Vodacom
74.4
0 21.25 42.5 63.75 85
The brackets represent confidence intervals.
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National Analysis

4G Availability

4G Availability has been MTN's powerhouse metric. The operator has won this award in our last three South Africa reports, and drew with Vodacom in our first analysis of the country. In this report, MTN became the first South African operator to pass the 80% milestone, with a score at least 5 percentage points ahead of its closest rival. Cell C and Vodacom followed, both with scores in the 74-75% range in our measurements, while Telkom brought up the rear with 4G Availability of 71%.

4G Availability
in %
Telkom
70.9
Cell C
75.0
MTN
80.1
Vodacom
74.4
0 21.25 42.5 63.75 85
The brackets represent confidence intervals.
Download Image

MTN had the highest score in our 4G Availability category, increasing its score by over 2 percentage points. But all three of South Africa's other national operators saw greater increases in our measurements, with Cell C showing the best improvement of over 6 percentage points. There is now less than 5 percentage points separating Cell C, Telkom and Vodacom in our 4G Availability metric — and this improvement is likely to be linked to fresh LTE roaming deals signed between Telkom and Vodacom, and Cell C and MTN in 2018. While these improvements are great for the mobile user experience in South Africa, MTN will have to keep on its toes if it wants to keep hold of our 4G Availability crown.

Video Experience

Rivals MTN and Vodacom drew for our Video Experience award, in a close-run battle which saw both operators scoring just over 60 (out of 100). Vodacom has managed to catch up with its rival after our first look at our new video metric in South Africa some three months ago. But the other two operators were some way behind the leaders, clearly delineating two levels of mobile video experience in the market.

Video Experience
in 0-100 points
Telkom
47.8
Cell C
52.1
MTN
62.3
Vodacom
61.5
Poor Fair Good Very Good Excellent
0 10 20 30 40 50 60 70 80 90 100
The brackets represent confidence intervals.
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Video Experience
Supporting Metrics
in 0-100 points
4G Video Experience
56.4 (± 1.17) 63.2 (± 1.52) 71.9 (± 0.59) 68.2 (± 0.58)
3G Video Experience
36.3 (± 1.75) 40.7 (± 2.45) 46.9 (± 1.82) 49.5 (± 1.08)
+/- numeric values represent confidence intervals.
Mobile Network Experience Report | February 2019 | © Opensignal Inc.
4G Video Experience in 0-100 points
56 (± 1.17)
63 (± 1.52)
72 (± 0.59)
68 (± 0.58)
3G Video Experience in 0-100 points
36 (± 1.75)
41 (± 2.45)
47 (± 1.82)
49 (± 1.08)
Mobile Network Experience Report | February 2019 | © Opensignal Inc.

Both MTN and Vodacom's scores of over 60 (out of 100) put the operators in the Good category in our Video Experience analysis. We define a Good score as characterized by video streamed from the internet to a phone or tablet rendering at both low and high resolutions, but exhibiting some loading time before playback begins and some stalling, especially at higher resolutions. However, Cell C and Telkom's scores (of 52 and 48 respectively) saw these operators fall into our Fair category, meaning our users on these networks would typically experience long loading times and frequent stalling at high resolutions, but better quality at low resolutions.

In our Video Experience supporting metrics, MTN's 4G Video Experience score was 71 (out of 100) compared to Vodacom's 68. However in our 3G Video Experience analysis, MTN's score was 47 (out of 100) compared to Vodacom's 50. But the two operators have scored a draw in our overall Video Experience award.

Download Speed Experience

We saw the second draw among our national metrics in our Download Speed Experience category, where MTN managed to increase its average speed by close to 2 Mbps to catch up with Vodacom. Vodacom won this award in our last report six months ago, but the operator has seen virtually no growth in this metric since then.

Download Speed Experience
in Mbps
Telkom
10.0
Cell C
9.2
MTN
17.2
Vodacom
17.6
0 5 10 15 20
The brackets represent confidence intervals.
Download Image
Download Speed Experience
Supporting Metrics
in Mbps
4G Download Speed
13.8 (± 0.35) 13.3 (± 0.43) 24.1 (± 0.42) 23.5 (± 0.32)
3G Download Speed
5.0 (± 0.16) 5.0 (± 0.19) 6.1 (± 0.16) 6.8 (± 0.15)
+/- numeric values represent confidence intervals.
Mobile Network Experience Report | February 2019 | © Opensignal Inc.
4G Download Speed in Mbps
14 (± 0.35)
13 (± 0.43)
24 (± 0.42)
24 (± 0.32)
3G Download Speed in Mbps
5 (± 0.16)
5 (± 0.19)
6 (± 0.16)
7 (± 0.15)
Mobile Network Experience Report | February 2019 | © Opensignal Inc.

In our Download Speed Experience analysis we saw even more evidence of the two tiers of user experience in South African mobile. MTN and Vodacom's average speeds were both over 17 Mbps in our measurements, but Cell C and Telkom were some distance behind the leaders with scores of 9.2 Mbps and 10 Mbps respectively. And neither of the second tier operators has shown any significant growth over the past six months. As leaders MTN and Vodacom continue to pour investment into their South African networks, there is a risk this gap could turn into a chasm.

Upload Speed Experience

We saw a fairly close-run race in our Upload Speed Experience award, where Vodacom took the prize with an average score of 5.5 Mbps, followed by MTN’s 5.1 Mbps. But, as in most of our other metrics, South Africa's other two national operators were some way behind the top two, with Cell C scoring 3.3 Mbps and Telkom 3.2 Mbps in our measurements.

Upload Speed Experience
in Mbps
Telkom
3.2
Cell C
3.3
MTN
5.1
Vodacom
5.5
0 1.875 3.75 5.625 7.5
The brackets represent confidence intervals.
Download Image
Upload Speed Experience
Supporting Metrics
in Mbps
4G Upload Speed
4.7 (± 0.12) 5.4 (± 0.21) 7.7 (± 0.17) 7.7 (± 0.14)
3G Upload Speed
1.2 (± 0.04) 1.1 (± 0.06) 1.0 (± 0.04) 1.6 (± 0.05)
+/- numeric values represent confidence intervals.
Mobile Network Experience Report | February 2019 | © Opensignal Inc.
4G Upload Speed in Mbps
5 (± 0.12)
5 (± 0.21)
8 (± 0.17)
8 (± 0.14)
3G Upload Speed in Mbps
1 (± 0.04)
1 (± 0.06)
1 (± 0.04)
2 (± 0.05)
Mobile Network Experience Report | February 2019 | © Opensignal Inc.

Interestingly, Vodacom managed to take our overall Upload Speed Experience award despite a drop of nearly 1 Mbps in its 4G Upload Speed. Vodacom and MTN had virtually identical scores in our upload measurements on their LTE networks, but while MTN's stayed fairly steady over the past 6 months, Vodacom's has dropped. But Vodacom's higher 3G Upload Speed score allowed it to win our overall Upload Speed Experience award.

Latency Experience

Vodacom won our Latency Experience award pretty comfortably with a score of 38.3 milliseconds, over 15% better than its closest rival MTN. Latency measures the delay users experience as data makes a round trip through the network, meaning the lower the latency score, the better. MTN came in second with a score of 45.2ms in our Latency Experience measurements, followed by Telkom on 54.4ms and Cell C with 57.2ms.

Latency Experience
in ms The lower the figure the better the latency
Telkom
54.4
Cell C
57.2
MTN
45.2
Vodacom
38.3
0 15 30 45 60
The brackets represent confidence intervals.
Download Image
Latency Experience
Supporting Metrics
in ms
4G Latency
40.4 (± 0.42) 43.2 (± 0.58) 32.8 (± 0.25) 31.8 (± 0.23)
3G Latency
72.9 (± 1.22) 71.5 (± 1.70) 64.9 (± 0.99) 50.1 (± 0.61)
+/- numeric values represent confidence intervals.
Mobile Network Experience Report | February 2019 | © Opensignal Inc.
4G Latency in ms
40 (± 0.42)
43 (± 0.58)
33 (± 0.25)
32 (± 0.23)
3G Latency in ms
73 (± 1.22)
72 (± 1.70)
65 (± 0.99)
50 (± 0.61)
Mobile Network Experience Report | February 2019 | © Opensignal Inc.

Vodacom easily won our Latency Experience award, despite coming within 1ms of MTN in our 4G Latency measurements. Part of the reason for this is Vodacom's superior 3G Latency score of 50.1ms, well ahead of MTN's 64.9ms in our measurements. But if we look at Minimum Latency measurements on both operator's LTE networks, we can see that Vodacom is well ahead of MTN — but MTN is closing the gap, suggesting the race for our next latency award could be even closer.

Regional Analysis

In our regional analysis of four of South Africa's largest cities, we saw Telkom and Vodacom pass the 80% milestone in 4G Availability for the first time in one city. All four national operators scored over the 80% mark in Cape Town, with the improvements in this metric likely to be linked to the fresh roaming deals recently signed.

In terms of Download Speed Experience, both MTN and Vodacom have passed the 20 Mbps mark in three cities: Ekurhuleni, Johannesburg and Tshwane. But these fairly impressive average speeds are further highlighting the huge gap between the two tiers of operators. Cell C and Telkom's scores in these three cities were less than half the speed of both their rivals.

The close-run race in our national Upload Speed Experience award was also reflected in South Africa's cities, where we saw both MTN and Vodacom win one award each, while they shared the spoils in Ekurhuleni and Johannesburg. In Latency Experience, our awards in the cities reflected the national experience with Vodacom winning in all four — and passing the 30ms milestone in Johannesburg and Tshwane.

Select any region below to display individual breakdown

Cape Town

4G Availability
in Cape Town
in %
Telkom
81.6
Cell C
84.3
MTN
87.7
Vodacom
82.8
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Video Experience
in Cape Town
in 0-100 points
Telkom
52.3
Cell C
55.9
MTN
64.8
Vodacom
64.2
Download Image
Download Speed Experience
in Cape Town
in Mbps
Telkom
13.2
Cell C
7.8
MTN
18.2
Vodacom
17.0
Download Image
Upload Speed Experience
in Cape Town
in Mbps
Telkom
3.8
Cell C
2.9
MTN
4.6
Vodacom
5.7
Download Image
Latency Experience
in Cape Town
in ms
Telkom
47.2
Cell C
59.0
MTN
39.1
Vodacom
35.6
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Ekurhuleni

4G Availability
in Ekurhuleni
in %
Telkom
72.6
Cell C
73.8
MTN
88.1
Vodacom
79.9
Download Image
Video Experience
in Ekurhuleni
in 0-100 points
Telkom
48.9
Cell C
53.9
MTN
67.9
Vodacom
64.2
Download Image
Download Speed Experience
in Ekurhuleni
in Mbps
Telkom
9.8
Cell C
9.7
MTN
20.5
Vodacom
20.4
Download Image
Upload Speed Experience
in Ekurhuleni
in Mbps
Telkom
3.1
Cell C
3.7
MTN
6.5
Vodacom
6.6
Download Image
Latency Experience
in Ekurhuleni
in ms
Telkom
48.8
Cell C
45.9
MTN
33.9
Vodacom
31.3
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Johannesburg

4G Availability
in Johannesburg
in %
Telkom
70.1
Cell C
77.0
MTN
84.3
Vodacom
82.5
Download Image
Video Experience
in Johannesburg
in 0-100 points
Telkom
45.2
Cell C
53.3
MTN
67.1
Vodacom
65.0
Download Image
Download Speed Experience
in Johannesburg
in Mbps
Telkom
9.8
Cell C
9.5
MTN
21.2
Vodacom
23.1
Download Image
Upload Speed Experience
in Johannesburg
in Mbps
Telkom
2.9
Cell C
3.6
MTN
7.7
Vodacom
8.4
Download Image
Latency Experience
in Johannesburg
in ms
Telkom
46.3
Cell C
43.6
MTN
34.5
Vodacom
29.1
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Tshwane

4G Availability
in Tshwane
in %
Telkom
69.9
Cell C
76.4
MTN
86.7
Vodacom
80.1
Download Image
Video Experience
in Tshwane
in 0-100 points
Telkom
50.3
Cell C
53.7
MTN
66.1
Vodacom
63.7
Download Image
Download Speed Experience
in Tshwane
in Mbps
Telkom
9.6
Cell C
10.3
MTN
27.9
Vodacom
22.5
Download Image
Upload Speed Experience
in Tshwane
in Mbps
Telkom
3.2
Cell C
3.9
MTN
7.9
Vodacom
6.8
Download Image
Latency Experience
in Tshwane
in ms
Telkom
47.2
Cell C
40.8
MTN
33.5
Vodacom
29.9
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Learn more

Opensignal measures the real-world experience of consumers on mobile networks in the places they live, work and travel.

We continually adapt our methodology to best represent the true experience of smartphone users. Therefore, comparisons of the results to past reports should be considered indicative only.

For every metric we calculate statistical confidence intervals indicated on our graphs. When confidence intervals overlap, our measured results are too close to declare a winner. In those cases, we show a statistical draw. For this reason, some metrics have multiple winners.

In our bar graphs we represent confidence intervals as boundaries on either sides of graph bars. In our supporting-metric charts we show confidence intervals as +/- numerical values.

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For every metric we calculate statistical confidence intervals indicated on our graphs. When confidence intervals overlap, our measured results are too close to declare a winner. In those cases, we show a statistical draw. For this reason, some metrics have multiple operator winners.

In our bar graphs we represent confidence intervals as boundaries on either sides of graph bars.

In our supporting-metric charts we show confidence intervals as +/- numerical values.

Why confidence intervals are vital in analyzing mobile network experience

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