OpenSignal, an analytics company based in London, performed a series of tests that offer a definitive answer to the question; which South African network operator is the fastest and easily accessible? It’s a close match between MTN and Vodacom, SA’s most popular networks. The answer won’t exactly shock you (thanks Eskom), but you may go ‘hmm’ after reading the numbers.
When it comes to overall speed, MTN takes the crown. In terms of average upload and download speeds, MTN is quicker. MTN attained a ‘score’ of 27.7Mbps, beating Vodacom by 2.7Mbps. MTN also triumphs in upload speeds with a ‘score’ of 7.1Mbps. Speeds were tracked across the 3G, 4G, and 5G bands, making MTN the fastest operator in South Africa. That might have a little to do with the yellow company offering greater 5G coverage. Speaking of which…
Once again, MTN wins this round. OpenSignal compared four of SA’s biggest network operators: Cell C, Vodacom, MTN, and Telkom. Since neither Telkom and Cell C both offer 5G coverage, this was a two-horse race once again between Vodacom and MTN. MTN’s 5G availability was enough to push it to the top of the pile.

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Telkom and Cell C weren’t out of the running entirely. For 3G and 4G coverage, Telkom was found to have the best numbers. Enjoy it, Telkom. It’s the only category you’re top in. Sorry Cell C, we didn’t make the numbers.
Image: OpenSignal
OpenSignal examined the overall experience customers get when using a specific operator, and found that Vodacom finished ahead in all categories. The company tracked video experience, games experience, and voice experience. Vodacom topped all three. There’s more to it, though. Those stats were only tracked for 3G and 4G coverage. When it came to 5G experience in the same categories, both Vodacom and MTN tied for the top spots.
Excellent functionality doesn’t mean a thing if it’s intermittent. OpenSignal examined this via two internal categories – Excellent Consistent Quality and Core Consistent Quality. Excellent Consistent Quality tracks how well a network operator’s performance threshold watching HD video, playing games, and completing group calls. The other tracks lower performance thresholds such as watching SD video, browsing the web, or making calls. Vodacom was top in both categories, scoring 68.9% in Excellent Consistency and 80.2% in Core Consistency.
Both MTN and Vodacom stand on top of the pile in South Africa, leading in very different categories. You could argue that it’s a coin flip between the pair. MTN headlining the ‘download speed’ and ‘availability’ sections is offset by Vodacom being more usable across various online functions. It all depends on what you want from your network operator. Are you a downloader or a streamer?
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