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Why South African networks need to set the 4G bar

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Although South Africa’s 4G standard has seemingly improved, the countries low LTE global rankings suggest that perhaps it is time to set the bar higher.

At its most basic, what is known as ‘4G’ is a mobile and higher speed wireless interconnectivity standard or the fourth generation of mobile connectivity.  LTE and LTE A’s or LTE Advanced are all types of 4G technologies

These may be the simplified definitions that many service networks tout, but it is slightly more complicated than that. There is debate that  the original 4G in South Africa did not necessarily live up to the strict standards of actual 4G and that it was simply a more advanced 3G standard. A 2014 Broadband article claimed, ‘… you can’t have 4G in South Africa’, due to the high amount of spectrum that is needed.

But, what is the state of 4G, LTE accessibility and coverage in South Africa in the year currently?

The Latest Report: SA ‘Has Room to Grow’

OpenSignal’s August 2017 Report provided an overall analysis with regards to the performance of the popular mobile networks; Vodacom, MTN, Cell C and Telkom.

The overall conclusion of this report was, “LTE availability in South Africa has room to grow.” They reported that Vodacom and MTN were meeting an acceptable standard, but that Telkom and Cell C were underperforming.

With this report claiming that consistent LTE availability rankings in South Africa have placed the country on the lower end of 75 countries, it is debatable whether these seemingly acceptable LTE standards provided by Vodacom and MTN are good enough.

Nonetheless, South Africa may be in fact capable of a sufficient 4G standard, but with the bar set so low, perhaps it is time the service networks set their sights a little higher.


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