Mobile data: Now for the good news

South Africans may pay some of the highest fees for mobile data in Africa‚ but we also lead the list for the fastest mobile internet speeds.

And according to the Global State of Mobile Networks report by data crowd-sourcing company OpenSignal‚ Mzansi was also well positioned among developing countries globally for the download speeds available on local mobile networks.

Although nowhere near the 37.5 megabits per second (Mbps) download connections offered by world leaders South Korea‚ South Africa produced a respectable 9.9 Mbps across its 3G and LTE‚ or 4G‚ networks.

This placed South Africa as number one in Africa and ahead of countries such as Brazil and Russia on the list of 87 countries surveyed. Global economic giants the USA produced 12.5 Mbps speeds while Germany achieved 13.8 speeds for their mobile internet connections.

Only four countries produced speeds of over 30 Mbps‚ and the number for countries who generated speeds over 20 Mbps‚ rose to 13 from nine for the previous year.

The report noted “average overall mobile data speed increases… in countries worldwide”.

It looked at 19-billion samples from over one million people worldwide to aggregate the 3G and 4G speeds across all of a country’s mobile data networks.

The second metric the report looked at was time spent on Wifi “which translates into the proportion of time user spent connected to a Wifi access point rather than a cellular network‚” it said.

South Africans‚ it showed‚ spent 37.8% of their time connected to Wifi‚ which was just over half the time spent by people in the Netherlands who led the way at 68%.

In cities such as Johannesburg‚ Cape Town and Pretoria there were a number of programmes rolled out to ensure infrastructure to deliver public Wifi‚ but this was mostly limited to major centres around the country.

Of the 96 countries analyzed‚ 38 had time-on-Wifi scores of 50% or greater‚ which meant that in a large part of the world people spent as much time on Wifi as they did on mobile networks.

In September radio personalities Gareth Cliff and Tbo Touch launched a campaign called #DataMustFall to lower data costs in South Africa.

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