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PHL’s 4G availability improves — report

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By Denise A. Valdez, Reporter

A RECENT report said the availability of fourth generation (4G) network in the Philippines is getting better, but while video experience, broadband speed and latency experience has also shown improvement, these still lag behind the rest of the world.

The latest Mobile Network Experience Report of wireless coverage mapping firm OpenSignal showed Smart Communications, Inc. and Globe Telecom, Inc. both successfully expanded in more locations in the country, increasing the chances of finding a long term evolution (LTE) connection to 70% of the time.

The report covered 270,433 devices from Nov. 1, 2018 to Jan. 29, 2019 with total measurements reaching 933.2 million.

Smart Communications, Inc. is now closing the gap with Globe Telecom, Inc. in terms of 4G availability in the country, scoring 70.8% next to Globe’s 71.7%. Comparing to the same period in 2017, Globe’s 4G availability score then was at 55.3%, and Smart was at 40%.

“The rapid rise in their scores in just two years shows that their LTE services are maturing as more consumers have access to 4G services more often,” OpenSignal said.




“We found that the increasing 4G availability we’re tracking in the country as a whole is amplified in urban areas. In Cebu, Davao and Manila all three operators had 4G availability scores at least 10 percentage points higher than their national averages,” it added.

In terms of video experience, Smart beat Globe with a score of 44.4 against 28.4 (out of 100), which puts it in the “fair” range (40-55) against Globe’s “poor” score (0-40).

“Video experience in the Philippines is definitely in need of improvement,” OpenSignal said, adding that even the country’s top provider Smart “needs to gain a lot of ground” to bump up its rating to “good” or “very good.”

Both providers also improved their average download speeds. Smart jumped to 9.0 megabits per second (Mbps) from 7.5 Mbps in OpenSignal’s August 2018 report. Globe also moved up to 5.5 Mbps from 5.0 Mbps previously.

“Mobile broadband speeds are improving in the Philippines, though average connections are still well below most of the developed world,” OpenSignal said.

It added that it is not the improvement of their network connections that has been driving the two companies’ network speed, but their expanded 4G availability.

“[T]he big boost in Download Speed Experience isn’t the result of more powerful network connections…. Rather, Globe and Smart’s improved 4G availability is causing overall download speeds to rise. While the speed of 4G connections may not have changed, our users on Filipino networks are finding those connections more often,” it said.

Latency experience, or the lag time to transmit a command, also put Smart on top of Globe with an average response time of 69.4 milliseconds versus 74.6 milliseconds.

In a statement, Smart said it continues to ramp up its rollout of LTE and LTE-advanced network with a budget of $5 billion from 2016 to 2020. PLDT, Inc.’s wireless unit added that it is increasing its fiber broadband service to support its mobile network expansion.

Hastings Holdings, Inc., a unit of PLDT Beneficial Trust Fund subsidiary MediaQuest Holdings, Inc., has a stake in BusinessWorld through the Philippine Star Group, which it controls.

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