Download speeds on cellphones are now much faster than wifi in South Africa

Business Insider SA
  • Mobile data connections in South Africa boast higher download speeds than the average wifi connection, a new survey shows.
  • That puts South Africa in a growing minority of countries where a cellphone is a faster gateway to the internet than a wifi hotspot.

South Africa is in a growing minority of countries where mobile data connections are on average faster than wifi hotspot connections, according to OpenSignal's newly released report that compared those connections in 80 countries.

"The perception that mobile networks are inferior to wifi has persisted, wrongly,”  says author of the report Ian Fogg.

That is still true in the majority of countries surveyed, as it was true just about everywhere only 10 years ago. But this year OpenSignal found that in 41% of countries mobile data is now superior.

See also: This is SA's slowest 4G cellphone service – its top rival is 50% faster

According to OpenSignal, South Africa's wifi download speeds measure 8.8Mbps on average while the average mobile speed was 14.6Mbps.

The difference between the two is not quite as stark as it is in Australia (13Mbps), Qatar (11.8Mbps), and Greece – but mobile has a much clearer advantage than it has in countries such as Algeria, Costa Rica, and Mexico.

mobile network
Difference between Wifi and Mobile download speeds in megabytes per second. (OpenSignal)

OpenSignal sources data on carrier signal quality from users who've installed its app, which shows side-by-side comparisons to help consumers choose a carrier. The report is based on over three billion measurements a day from more than 100 million Android and Apple smartphone users around the world.

The company says the quality of wifi coverage doesn't have that big an influence on download speeds, but interference between wifi networks in the same location can.

Connecting to the internet via cellphone on the other hand, tends to provide a much consistent experience because mobile networks have to licence the spectrum they use, notes Fogg.

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