Here’s how South Africa’s mobile network speeds rank vs the world

South Africa may boast the fastest mobile network speeds in Africa but it pales in comparison to global leaders, Opensignal reported on Tuesday.

Surveying 43.6-million users from 87 nations across the globe between January and March 2019, the networks analytics firm’s State of Mobile Network Experience report (pdf) looks at the average upload and download speeds for users in a given country, alongside other key factors like 4G availability.

Of course,  South Korea, Norway and Canada topped the speed charts, with 52.4Mbps, 48.2Mbps and 42.5Mbps download speeds recorded for each respectively. The global average was just 17.6Mbps, but even South Africa couldn’t quite compete with that.

Opensignal registered 15Mbps average download speeds in the country, which is the highest of the African countries surveyed. Tunisia was placed second (13.4Mbps), and Morocco third (11.2Mbps). The likes of Nigeria (5.4Mbps) and Kenya (10.1Mbps) also couldn’t hold a candle to the southern African nation.

opensignal africa mobile network speeds 2019

South Africa’s data speeds — like all other African countries, bar one — also increased year-on-year, with Opensignal recording a 12.8Mbps average download speed between January and March 2018. Algeria was the one anomaly, with its speed dropping by 0.3Mbps between 2018 and 2019.

As for upload rates, South Africa’s average was 4.6Mbps. Slower upload rates than download rates are the norm across the globe, but comparing this to the likes of South Korea at 15.1Mbps, it’s clear that South Africa’s better equiped for content consumption than content creation at present. Still, 4.6Mbps is high compared to other African nations.

For Egypt, the average upload speed was just 2.8Mbps. Kenya scored 3.8Mbps. Morocco came closest to besting South Africa with 4Mbps. Nigeria registered just 1.5Mbps.

Where South Africa falls short through is its overall 4G availability.

Surveyed users spent 75.9% of their time on a 4G network, a percentage bested by two countries: Morocco (76.8%) and, surprisingly, Senegal (77.2%). South Africa was 33rd from bottom of the 87 countries in this regard.

opensignal africa g coverage 2019

This may either suggest that users tend to remain in 4G zones more often in other countries than South Africa, or that other countries have better 4G penetration rates, with wider coverage. But this number does seem to be growing.

In September 2018, Opensignal noted that MTN had the widest 4G coverage, with 78%. Vodacom, with 72%, trailed, while Cell C and Telkom both fell below 70%.

It’s still far off the world leaders though. South Korea, Japan and Norway have the highest 4G availability rates of the surveyed countries, all scoring above 95% in this metric.

South Africa, and Africa as a continent, has a long road to travel to even come close to the mobile data speeds the likes of Europe, Asia and Australia experience. And with the advent of 5G just beyond the horizon, it’s clear that the continent should probably spend more time on cultivating higher speeds and coverage on 4G than leap into the former.

Feature image: Memeburn

Andy Walker, former editor


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