Measuring broadband performance in South Africa

Marshini Chetty, Srikanth Sundaresan, Sachit Muckaden, Nick Feamster, Enrico Calandro

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

50 Scopus citations


Broadband penetration is increasing in South Africa, particularly on mobile devices, but little is known about the performance of fixed or mobile broadband in the country. This lack of empirical data imposes significant limitations to innovation, because broadband performance metrics help users audit their connectivity costs and regulators to make informed decisions about policies and infrastructure investments. We present the results from a measurement study of both fixed and mobile broadband connections in South Africa. We use measurement software that we implemented on mobile phones and home routers and adapted to address challenges that are unique to the developing world. Our findings suggest that consumers in South Africa are not getting advertised speeds, that mobile broadband generally has higher throughput than fixed broadband, and that interconnection between ISPs (or lack thereof) plays a significant role in determining the reliability and performance that users ultimately receive. Often, high latencies to destinations introduce significant performance bottlenecks, suggesting that, in addition to investments in higher throughput links, effort should be devoted to improving interconnection between ISPs and locating content closer to users. Our study, along with our open source technical platform, embodies an archetypal method for monitoring broadband performance in developing countries.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationProceedings of the 4th Annual Symposium on Computing for Development, ACM DEV 2013
PublisherAssociation for Computing Machinery
ISBN (Print)9781450325585
StatePublished - 2013
Event4th Annual Symposium on Computing for Development, ACM DEV 2013 - Cape Town, South Africa
Duration: Dec 6 2013Dec 7 2013

Publication series

NameProceedings of the 4th Annual Symposium on Computing for Development, ACM DEV 2013


Other4th Annual Symposium on Computing for Development, ACM DEV 2013
Country/TerritorySouth Africa
CityCape Town

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Software


  • Broadband measurement platform
  • Broadband performance
  • Consumer protection
  • Policy
  • Quality of service
  • South Africa


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