Ahead in Video Experience, 4G Availability, Download Speeds, Latency Experience in Q3 2020
The mobile network experience across five regions in the Philippines has greatly improved since the fourth quarter of 2018, according to independent mobile analytics firm Opensignal.
According to Opensignal’s latest analysis, Smart Communications, Inc. (Smart), wireless arm of the country’s largest and only integrated telco PLDT, has made great strides in improving customer experience in National Capital Region, North and Central Luzon, South Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao between the fourth quarter of 2018 and the third quarter of 2020.
The analysis, which is available on the Opensignal website, looked at improvements in Video Experience, 4G Availability, Download Speed Experience and Latency Experience, on a regional level.
In terms of Video Experience, Smart users “observed significantly larger improvements in absolute terms across four of the five regions,” Opensignal said. The exception was North & Central Luzon, where users of both telcos saw their Video Experience score improve by 10.3 points. Opensignal also noted that for the third quarter of 2020, Smart users in NCR were the only ones to observe a “Very Good (65-75)” Video Experience.
Smart also leads in 4G Availability, posting over 80% in every region—a feat achieved by its competitor only in NCR. “Our Smart users saw some impressive gains between Q4 2018 and Q3 2020, with those in North & Central Luzon and Mindanao seeing their 4G Availability scores rise by 41.5% and 34.5%, respectively,” Opensignal said.
In terms of Download Speed Experience, Smart has also remained ahead of its competitor across all regions, particularly in NCR, where it posted significantly better scores. “In Q4 2018, our Smart users observed the fastest overall download speeds in four out of five regions, with a statistical tie in Mindanao. Smart achieved a clean sweep in Q3 2020, with our users on its network observing the fastest speeds across all five regions,” Opensignal said, also noting that Smart users in Mindanao and South Luzon have seen their speeds increase by more than 50% since Q4 2018.
Mario G. Tamayo, Senior Vice President for Network Planning and Engineering for PLDT-Smart, noted that the average download speeds of 19 Mbps in NCR cited in Opensignal’s report are an average of 3G and LTE/4G. “However, our own network data shows that, using the appropriate device, average LTE speeds experienced by our customers are well over 19 Mbps, especially in Metro Manila where they can exceed 30 Mbps,” he said.
Smart has also enhanced its Latency Experience in all regions, posting the biggest improvements in Mindanao and South Luzon. “By Q3, our Smart users are already observing the best Latency Experience in four regions, with the only exception being North & Central Luzon, where the two operators’ scores were statistically tied,” Opensignal said.
Video Experience measures the average video experience of Opensignal users on 3G and 4G networks. It involves measuring real-world video streams, and takes picture quality, video loading time and stall rate into account. Meanwhile, 4G Availability is defined as the proportion of time 4G users spend connected to 4G or LTE. Latency, on the other hand, refers to the delay users experience as data makes a round trip through the network. If the latency of their network is high, the network will feel less responsive and be slower to react to their requests.
Tamayo also highlighted the importance of PLDT group’s sustained network investments in delivering the best customer experience across the country.
“With COVID-19 and the ‘new norm’, we are now relying heavily on connectivity to communicate with our families and loved ones. Connectivity has also allowed many people to continue working and studying from the safety of their homes,” Tamayo said.
“As we continue to monitor our progress through the lens of third-party independent companies like Opensignal, which have acknowledged the consistent performance of PLDT and Smart’s networks for the past several quarters, we know that our work does not stop there. There are still opportunities for improvement and to connect more Filipinos nationwide, as we aim to bring the Philippines to the level of the best in the region,” he added.
To date, Smart’s LTE network serves 95% of the population. Smart’s mobile network is supported by PLDT’s fiber infrastructure, which now spans 395,000 kilometers as of end-September.
These network investments form a large part of the PLDT Group’s sustained capital expenditures on their networks, which totaled some Php260 billion from 2015 to 2019. For 2020, with the network rollout regaining momentum following the easing of lockdown restrictions, PLDT has leveled up its target capital expenditures back up to about Php70 billion or more.
Independent data referenced with consent from Opensignal “The mobile network experience across five regions in the Philippines has greatly improved since Q4 2018 – October 2020”