MTN network in Western Cape, HOT or NOT?

MTN network in Western Cape, Hot or NOT?


Dropped calls and sluggish data speeds in Cape Town have frustrated an MTN user so much that they decided to do their own research on the company’s signal quality as posted below.



It seems as South Africans we have become so accustomed to poor Quality of Service that we are amazed and impressed when we receive exactly what we pay for. Most of us are guilty of this blind acceptance of the mediocre, which in my opinion allows Service Providers carte blanche to unfairly bill for poor quality of service. I believe we need to respectfully challenge service providers from an educated and factual platform in order to change the norm and attain better levels of service.

This all stems from hours of heated debate with business colleagues in Cape Town who have a beef with the quality of cell phone reception in the region. Each presented their argument backed by different sources of evidence. Most of the argument pointed to poor quality of reception of the MTN service in the Western Cape. Being an MTN user myself residing in Gauteng I seldom experience what the arguments pointed to. The problem, we soon realised, Internet sources rarely definitively prove one point or the other. Well not without educated explanations of technical information anyway. I decide to scratch with a little more purpose in an attempt to find technical information the normal consumer could understand.


If one were to rate customer perceptions, there is library of complaints on sites like These sites provide ratings on consumer satisfaction however the technical reasoning to clarify the complaints isn’t available.


Then there’s that provides graphs and measurements of service outages. Although this is very informative the data isn’t technical enough and is based on information that isn’t tangible enough for my liking.


The first type of information that caught my attention came from Their mission statement below gave me confidence that I could find the type of information I was in search of.


Speedtest’s mission is to help build a better and faster internet. The proven technology behind Speedtest is purpose-built for accurate and unbiased internet performance testing, which empowers people all over the world to gauge and troubleshoot the speed of their internet connections.


The results of a speed test carried out in December 2016 are shown in the images below. Still, I wasn’t satisfied since although the speed test shows MTN lacking with regards to internet connectivity at different times of the day, other important information was missing.

Turning to the regulator themselves I was astonished to find that ICASA publishes exactly what I have been looking for, Quality of Service reports. These reports comprise of targeted factual data, like the graph below that highlights how poorly MTN and Cell C has performed in the Western Cape as compared to Vodacom for example.

link to report

The ICASA reports also defines the target criteria as quoted below.


“2.1 Targets Parameters

The Drop Call Rate should be less than 3% as per the End-User and Subscriber Service charter regulations of 2009. The Call setup Success Rate should be greater than 95%. This parameter is not regulated by End-User and Subscriber Service charter regulations of 2009; however we have chosen its target based on ITU recommendations E.800 and G.1000. “



MTN haven’t achieved regulated Call Setup Success Rates in any of the graphs above as defined by ICASA.


In contrast to what can be perceived as people with a natural affinity to complain about just anything, the same people that I incorrectly labelled “ranters and ravers”, I now can assess the “facts” to deduce that “Hey, Farhana who commented on could actually be correct, MTN does seem off the mark .

Browsing the numerous Quality of Service reports on the ICASA website, it is immediately clear that the reports for Western Cape hasn’t been published ever since the 2013/2014 report that seemingly revealed MTN’s below the regulators target criteria performance in the region. My restlessness on this matter sparked engagement with different representatives from ICASA who detailed the technical process involved in obtaining these reports.


According to ICASA representatives these cell phone network diagnostics are done in-house by ICASA, utilizing special vehicles to capture and diagnose network performance that forms the basis of the Quality of Service reports. They also revealed that the Service providers like MTN and Vodacom often contract external telecoms service vendors to perform similar diagnosis on their network performance. Telecoms Operators already know the standard of performance they attain on a daily basis but information isn’t provided to the consumers.


Consumers surely have a right to service reports. So instead of bombarding consumers with endless marketing data, provide them with information that really matters similar to the following just to brainstorm a few.


Together with my itemised bill provided every month, add to it network performance,

show the amount of drop calls the consumer painfully endured and offer them a discount on the next call at least,

notify consumers of outages instead of them having to turn to the internet for that information,

show average speed tests and how the network is improving.


All this information exists and empowering consumers with this information would establish more loyalty from the consumer rather than them finding it for themselves.