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Lumbering into the 6th Decade of Slow Wireless Web Access


South African Telcos Bet Big on 5G, But Consumers are Feeling the Pinch

In a move that’s sparking controversy, South African telcos are racing to expand their 5G networks, despite underwhelming results so far. The latest report from Ookla, the parent company of speedtest.net, has raised concerns about the impact of 5G on web page load speed, particularly in South Africa.

5G’s False Promises?

According to Ookla, while 5G promises to revolutionize mobile internet with lower latency and faster speeds, the reality on the ground is different. The study analyzed page load speed on Facebook, Google, and YouTube on 5G and 4G networks in nine countries, including South Africa, Brazil, Canada, and the US. While 5G generally performed better, the difference was marginal in many cases.

South Africa Falls Behind

South Africa’s 5G networks are lagging behind their global peers, with page load speed improvements averaging just 22% for Google and YouTube. This raises questions about the telcos’ aggressive 5G expansion plans, especially given the lack of noticeable benefits for consumers so far.

Telcos Defying Logic

In the face of this reality, South Africa’s major telcos – Vodacom, MTN, Telkom, and Rain – are pressing ahead with their 5G deployments, despite lingering issues such as costly fixed 5G connectivity, load-shedding-related limitations, and the high cost of 5G-enabled phones and routers.

Who’s to Blame?

While the telcos are bearing the brunt of criticism, the finger of blame is also pointing towards government inaction and lack of regulatory support for the rollout of 5G networks.

A Future in Chaos

As 5G struggles to deliver on its promises in South Africa, the telecommunications landscape is on the brink of chaos. Consumers are stuck with slower internet speeds, while telcos are wrestling with the financial and logistical implications of a costly, yet seemingly ineffective, network upgrade. With no clear signs of a turnaround on the horizon, it remains to be seen how the 5G debacle will play out in the country.



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