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Mobile speed report sees MTN reign across SA, but Vodacom dominate in Joburg

  • MTN registered the fastest median across all African markets for mobile speed in Q2 2022. 
  • The rollout of 5G in Johannesburg by Vodacom gave it an edge other providers.
  • MTN is also leading the way in terms of speeds in Africa compared to Airtel, Orange and Safaricom.

This week Ookla, the company which you likely do all your internet speed tests with, released its latest report looking at mobile operators across the African continent for the second quarter of 2022.

As has been the case in recent years, South Africa’s two largest operators are leading the pack – MTN and Vodacom. The former in particular is leading the way by some margin, registering the fastest median speeds across Sub-Saharan Africa.

The likes of Airtel, Orange and Safaricom all featured highly in the report too, but MTN sat atop it with a median download speed of 65.95Mbps. Vodacom ranked second with 48.71Mbps, with Safaricom Kenya rounding out the top three with 36.25Mbps.

The full list of operators, ranked according to Ookla’s Speedtest Intelligence platform, can be formed in the table below.

According to Ookla, much of the success of our local operators is down to the rollout of 5G in South Africa. This is a little surprising, given that full spectrum allocation is still in the offing, but among its fellow nations on the continent, SA appears to be far ahead.

“We can clearly see the impact that 5G has on overall performance as South African operators came first thanks to having 5G networks in place. MTN South Africa was well ahead of the rest of operators, despite facing challenges with load shedding, with median download speed of 65.95 Mbps, followed by Vodacom South Africa with a median download speed of 48.70 Mbps. If we take 5G out of the equation, Safaricom Kenya was the fastest operator among the analyzed operators,” the report explains.

Looking a bit deeper at the impact of 5G in South Africa, Ookla also found that it has given an edge to Vodacom over MTN in Johannesburg, with the rollout of the new mobile broadband standard in the city being further reaching than in other parts of the country. That said, MTN still reigns in Cape Town when it comes to 5G.

“When it comes to mobile speeds in capital cities, it is not surprising that cities that have 5G networks came top of the list. As such, Johannesburg led the pack, with a median download speed of 66.54 Mbps, ahead of Cape Town at 49.22 Mbps. Vodacom got ahead of MTN in Johannesburg and was the fastest operator across 12 cities we analyzed, with a median download speed of 81.36 Mbps in Q2 2022 compared to 73.83 Mbps in Q1 2022. MTN was faster in Cape Town,” the report highlights.

“Taking 5G out of the equation, Orange in Gaborone, the capital city of Botswana, achieved median download speeds of 39.46 Mbps,” it adds.

It therefore looks like South Africa still leads most of the African continent when it comes to mobile speed, despite wavering in recent years as regards rolling out spectrum and making technologies publicly accessible. While that is indeed pleasing to see, the cost of data still remains a massive stumbling block for many in the country.

You can read the full Ookla report for yourself here.

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