Telecoms

SA tops Africa’s download speed table

Read time 4min 40sec

South Africa leads its African peers in regards to download speeds.

This is according to mobile analytics company Opensignal in its State of Mobile Network Experience report which was published last month. Opensignal, however, published its African report this morning.

The company collects over three billion individual measurements every day from tens of millions of smartphones worldwide.

Opensignal’s recent State of Mobile Network Experience report ranked 87 of the world’s mobile nations across key metrics, with the usual suspects – Canada (42.5Mbps), Denmark (34.2Mbps), Netherlands (42.4Mbps), Norway (48.2Mbps), Singapore (39.3Mbps), and South Korea (52.4Mbps) – topping the global rankings.

Mobile-first markets

However, when measuring how the mobile-first markets in Africa stack up against each other, Opensignal compared 10 countries from the continent: SA, Tunisia, Morocco, Kenya, Ivory Coast, Egypt, Algeria, Ghana, Senegal and Nigeria.

“South Africa topped our Africa Download Speed Experience chart with a fairly impressive score of 15Mbps, while Tunisia, Morocco and Kenya managed average speeds of over 10Mbps,” says Peter Boyland, senior analyst at Opensignal.

Earlier this year, the mobile analytics company noted SA is one of the world’s most consistent countries when comparing the difference between the slowest and fastest 4G download speeds that mobile users experience throughout the day.

In the latest study, the firm, nonetheless, says SA’s score was quite a way behind the leading global scores, but the country still just managed to sneak into the top half of the global rankings.

“Indeed, in our most recent South Africa Mobile Network Experience report, we found two operators [Vodacom and MTN] had download speed experience scores over 17Mbps. But the other two players [Cell C and Telkom] scored around the 10Mbps mark, pulling down the national average and showing a pattern we've observed of a ‘two tier’ mobile network experience in the country,” Boyland says.

In its February report, Opensignal said MTN and Vodacom achieved the same download speeds at 17Mbps.

The firm explains that almost all the African countries it analysed saw their download speed experience scores increase over the past year, with only Algeria (3.1Mbps) seeing its average speed dip slightly.

It adds that between the first three months of 2018 and the same period of 2019, Tunisia saw the biggest increase in terms of Mbps, as its score grew 3.6Mbps to reach an average of 13.4Mbps.

“But our users in Senegal experienced the greatest download speed experience boost by percentage, as the average speed in the country jumped close to 50%,” Boyland says.

4G availability

Opensignal’s 4G availability analysis shows Kenya, Morocco and SA also featured in the top four – but the winner was something of a revelation, the firm says.

Senegal topped the Africa table with a score of 77.2% – beating some much more advanced markets in the global rankings.

According to Opensignal, Senegal can be proud of a relatively advanced 4G mobile network experience, as Orange has already launched LTE-A in the country, while Tigo’s 4G network rollout is well under way.

“Much like in our download speed analysis, only one African country saw its 4G availability fall over the past year, as Ghana saw its score drop nearly five percentage points to 61.2%,” Boyland notes.

“Our users in Senegal saw a big improvement in their chart-topping 4G availability score, which increased over 15 points to reach 77.2%, but Egypt saw the greatest improvement of over 17 points in the past year to top 65%, while Algeria and Nigeria also saw their scores grow by over 10 points.”

Good video

Opensignal points out that SA also topped the video experience table, as one of two African nations which scored a “good” rating (55-65 out of 100) in this metric.

It explains that a good video experience is characterised by video streamed from the Internet to a phone or tablet rendering at both low and high resolutions, but exhibiting some loading time before playback begins and some stalling, especially at higher resolutions.

Tunisia also managed a good rating, while three African countries – Egypt, Morocco and Kenya – scored in the “fair” range (40-55).

“Our users in these countries should expect longer loading times and frequent stalling at higher resolutions, but a better video experience at low resolutions,” Boyland says.

Half of the African countries Opensignal analysed rated as “poor” for video experience (0-40), characterised by frequent stalling during video playback and long loading times, even at low resolutions.

Since 4G is still in its infancy in many African markets, the firm says a large proportion of the continent’s mobile networks are not yet suited to delivering a good mobile video experience.

But, nonetheless, it says mobile coverage, and particularly data connectivity, are transforming the lives of billions of people on the continent.

“The majority of Africans have never experienced fixed-line broadband, meaning mobile is opening up services such as mobile banking and payments, social media and even instant messaging that many of us have taken for granted for decades. And as 4G connectivity improves and 5G comes to the continent, more and more people will see their lives transformed by their mobile network experience,” Boyland concludes.

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