Mobile data cheaper, faster than ADSL in SA – Report

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Research ICT Africa has a new report out today, which says that mobile data is both cheaper and faster than ADSL in South Africa. The report, which was produced with support from the Open Society Foundation, also says that South African prices for mobile data stack up fairly well against other African nations, ranking second to Tanzania in an overall comparison of 5GB mobile bundles and best value for a single gig of data on contract.

For fixed line access via ADSL, meanwhile, the report says that South Africa ranks fourth or sixth, depending on the bundle size. Apparently, in Tanzania it’s possible to get uncapped ADSL for just R185 a month – what the report authors fail to mention, of course, is that according to the Tanzanian Telecommunications Company Ltd this is for a mere 256Kbps connection, limited to exchanges in urban areas.

The report is on firmer ground, however, when it talks about mobile data and claims that speeds are higher when using LTE and provide better value for money.

“While South Africa’s ADSL prices have come down over the past few years,” say the authors, “They are still not anywhere near as competitive as services offered by ADSL provider Telkom’s owned mobile arm, Telkom Mobile.”

Again, however, it misses the point that LTE access is very limited in South Africa at the moment, and doesn’t take into account the reliability issues many users have experienced with 3G and the limitation of all mobile data networks for low latency services and upload speeds which are arguably more important than straight download rates.

Telkom LTE coverage map for Cape Town. Perhaps not quite a viable alternative to ADSL yet?
Telkom LTE coverage map for Cape Town. Perhaps not quite a viable alternative to ADSL yet?

Comparing prepaid rates is also tricky at the moment – speaking from experience with Cell C’s Supacharge bundles, for example, the amount of data you actually get from a top up is considerably more than you ostensibly pay for.

Still, it’s hard to argue with the overall conclusion. To paraphrase: when it comes to broadband there’s a lot to do and it can’t happen quickly enough.

(Main image credit: Shutterstock. Hat tip to MyBroadband)

Adam Oxford

Adam Oxford

Adam is the Editorial Director at htxt media. He has been writing about technology for almost two full decades now. In a previous life, he was the editor of PC Format and Digital Camera Shopper in the UK, before going on to work as a freelance journalist for seven years. His work has appeared in or on Stuff, The Guardian, Linux Format, TechRadar,, PC Gamer, Green Futures, The Journalist, The Ecologist and The Review. Adam moved to South Africa in 2012 and loves 3D printers, MakerFairs and tech hubs. He hates seafood. None of his friends remember this when cooking.