Available data from Speedtest Intelligence which analysed the internet speed performance of four mobile service providers across 10 countries in sub-Saharan Africa and published by Ookla Insights, shows Airtel delivering faster median download and upload speeds in Nigeria in Q2 2022.
Among the countries where the tests were carried out, South Africa produced the best speeds as a result of 5G deployment by operators in the country.
The four operators singled out for the tests – Airtel, Orange, MTN and Vodacom command a combined majority of 62% of total subscriptions in sub-Saharan Africa. While the select 10 countries account for 59% of the region’s connections.
- East Africa: Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania, and Uganda;
- Southern Africa: Democratic Republic of Congo, South Africa, and Botswana;
- West Africa: Côte d’Ivoire, Guinea, and Nigeria.
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Head-to-head performance between Airtel and MTN across the three countries they operate in, put Airtel ahead in Nigeria, both in terms of median download and upload speed in Q2 2022, while in Uganda and Rwanda there were no winners.
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Nigeria: Airtel with better speed, MTN had better 4G Availability
As of Q2 2022, MTN Nigeria commanded 38.9% of Nigeria’s mobile users, with its 74.1 million subscribers almost double that of Airtel’s 46.0 million.
Yet, when it comes to mobile performance, Airtel Nigeria was ahead of MTN. In Q2 2022, Airtel Nigeria recorded a median download speed of 30.35 Mbps and a median upload speed of 10.28 Mbps, both of which topped those of MTN (26.30 Mbps download and 9.13 Mbps upload).
Those speeds are set to increase as both companies have invested heavily into network infrastructure, with a combined investment of N208.5 billion ($502 million). The investment translates into an increase in 4G Availability as well. In Q2 2022, MTN had 83.8% 4G Availability compared to Airtel’s 77.9%.
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The 5G advantage
In terms of mobile speeds by country, South African operators came first thanks to having 5G networks in place. Cities like Johannesburg led the pack, with a median download speed of 66.54 Mbps, ahead of Cape Town at 49.22 Mbps. Vodacom got ahead of MTN in Johannesburg and was the fastest operator across the 12 cities used, with a median download speed of 81.36 Mbps in Q2 2022 compared to 73.83 Mbps in Q1 2022. MTN was faster in Cape Town and was well ahead of the rest of the operators.
Using Speedtest Intelligence data to compare mobile performance in Q2 2022 on modern chipsets across 21 operators, shows that median download speeds ranged between 2.89 Mbps (MTN Guinea) and 65.95 Mbps (MTN South Africa). Median upload speeds varied between 1.55 Mbps (MTN Guinea) and 14.84 Mbps (Airtel Uganda).
Clearly, the impact of 5G on overall performance can be seen with a median download speed of 65.95 Mbps, followed by Vodacom South Africa with a median download speed of 48.70 Mbps. Taking 5G out of the equation, Safaricom Kenya was the fastest operator among the analyzed operators during Q2 2022, with a median download speed of 36.25 Mbps and upload of 13.83 Mbps.