Mobile networks have come under the spotlight since the start of the lockdown. Many consumers have had to change their mobile usage significantly, and this has meant more traffic from different locations for mobile networks to manage.
One of the features of the lockdown has been that a large percentage of users have begun working from home. Many companies have even issued their employees with MiFi routers and sim cards for them to use as they work from home.
Another interesting aspect to note about lockdown is that working from home would have meant that mobile users would be less concentrated in traditional business hubs during the week than normal.
This increase in the amount and location of traffic caused a headache for network operators at the start of the lockdown period as they tried to cope with the increase in demand.
Thankfully, ICASA issued temporary spectrum to the industry to help networks cope with the up to 50% increase in traffic.
Network Quality report
According to MyBroadband’s Q2 Network Quality report, South Africa’s networks with the help of the temporary spectrum fared surprisingly well during the lockdown.
MTN far superior
On the whole, networks were able to maintain their usual service levels in the face of a much-changed demand for data access. According to the report, MTN’s network was far superior to its competitors beating out the other networks in pretty much every metric.
According to speed test data collected by MyBroadband, MTN achieved average download speeds of 52.28 Mbps (Megabits per second) compared to Vodacom with 29.08 Mbps, Telkom with 20.16 Mbps, CellC with 17.62 Mbps and Rain with 10.64 Mbps.
|Network Operator||Download Speed (Mbps)||Upload Speed (Mbps)||Latency (ms)||Network Quality Score|
Rain was the one exception with the operator’s service, offering suffering substantially during the lockdown. This was mainly due to Rain not receiving the spectrum that they requested.
As a result, Rain was unable to utilize the temporary spectrum as it was “unsuitable for deployment with their current spectrum.” Rain are currently busy with the process of procuring new radios that will enable them to improve their network speeds by utilizing the temporary spectrum allocated to them.
Rain’s performance gives us an idea of how much South Africa’s networks and their users would have suffered had ICASA not acted quickly to make spectrum available.
The MyBroadband report calculated a Network Quality Score for each operator, and unsurprisingly the final standings mirrored the results of the download speeds with MTN taking top honours.
The Network Quality score rates network operators based on download speed, upload speed and latency.