South Africa Telecoms: Powerhouses in the Making

South Africa Telecoms

Perhaps in contrast to public perception, South Africa is the benchmark for other African countries mainly due to its advancements, from water management solutions to cloud computing. South Africa Telecoms have made strides away from its original colonial administrators’ intent to become one of the continent’s leading sectors. Today, South African telecom infrastructure offers modern and efficient service to urban areas, including cellular and internet services, under the watchful eye of The Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA).

In 1997, Telkom monopolized the market until 2002 because of a strategic equity partnership with a consortium of two companies, including SBC, a U.S. telecommunications company. During that time, the company assumed the obligation of facilitating network modernization and expansion into the underserved area. The South African mobile market is currently dominated by four mobile network operators (MNOs), Vodacom, MTN, Cell C, and Telkom. Vodacom and MTN control 75% of the market, according to ICASA, making mobile brand services in the nation highly concentrated. In 2018, a brand-new supplier called Rain began offering customers most data-only services.

South Africa Telecoms: Leading by Example

South Africa Telecoms have set a precedent for emerging telcos in neighboring countries regarding customer service, pricing, and 5G deployment.

Customer Service

The telecommunication industry heavily relies on the customers’ involvement. Therefore, telecommunication companies invest in their customer service as fast, efficient service promotes long-lasting business transactions between provider and consumer. To garner customer loyalty, the company must meet customer needs to the best of its abilities.

With that said, look at recent research by Analytico, a study based on data collected through the app MyBroadband from January 2022 to August 2022, official feedback from mobile operators, and survey responses from broadband subscribers. Five thousand nine hundred seventy-three individuals answered the May 2022 survey: 54 percent living in Gauteng, 28 percent in Cape Town, 8 percent in Durban, and 3 percent in Port Elizabeth.

The report has revealed that MTN’s customer satisfaction surpasses that of Vodacom and Telkom at 86 percent. Meanwhile, the other MNOs, Vodacom, Telkom, Cell C, and Rain, have customer satisfaction ratings that fall between 55 and 73 percent.

Surprisingly, Telkom and Rain were popular among iPhone users, while Vodacom and MTN were popular among Android users.


Affordable prices are the hallmark of South Africa telecoms. It is common knowledge that the better the package, the more desirable it is, and therefore the more people will purchase it. South African telecom companies are hyper-aware of this fact.

The mobile network operators MTN and Vodacom provide different bundles for the same categories, and consumers, depending on their needs, might choose one over the other. They offer similar pricing for their higher data bundles (i.e., their 1GB daily, 2GB weekly, 10GB, and 30GB monthly bundles). However, MTN has more cost-effective smaller data allocations than others in the South African market. MTN’s daily bundles, for example, start at R0.17 per megabyte, while Vodacom’s 20MB package is R0.25. Despite Vodacom beating MTN in terms of seven-day prepaid data bundles, MTN’s 5G seven-day bundle is the most cost-effective at a rate of R0.04 per megabyte. Furthermore, unlike Vodacom, MTN’s customers have a wide range of bundles, from 20MB to 5G.

5G Deployment

Middle East and Africa region telcos amplified the enrolment of the fifth-generation (5G) mobile networks in 2021. In South Africa, South Africa Telecoms MTN and Vodacom draw equal regarding 5G download speeds, 5G video experience, 5G gaming experience, and 5G voice app experience. Nevertheless, MTN rivals Vodacom in 5G availability and 5G upload speeds.

Opensignal, a London-based independent analytics company, analyzed the mobile experience of South African 5G users. In the report, researchers found that MTN surpasses other telecom operators, including Vodacom, with a 9.8 percent score. Furthermore, MTN tops the 5G upload speed category (22.9Mbit/s).

Additionally, 5G deployments are expected to be accelerated following the ICASA auction in March 2023 of several broadband spectrum bands. MTN plans to cover 65% of the population by 2025 and retire its 3G networks to focus on the 4G and 5G mobile networks.

Final Thoughts

South Africa struggles on an everyday basis to stay afloat in certain areas. It has resorted to technology to try and mend what’s broken. Businesses also face several logistical challenges, and South Africa telecoms are no exception. Nevertheless, the country has fought hard to upgrade its telecom infrastructure. And today, it is the role model of aspiring countries in terms of its diversified telecom services that manage to meet everyone’s needs. Customer service is exceptional, as telecom operators know its impact on a business rooted in digital communications. The bundles are diverse in price and content, so there’s something for everyone, allowing everyone somewhat equal access to digital communications. South Africa’s 5G deployment is a well-thought-out plan with a promising future. Despite the public misconceptions of South Africa or even the whole continent, certain countries managed to rise and soar.

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