IMPROVING access and quantity of spectrum capacity has boosted 4G and 5G download speeds in the Asia Pacific (APAC) region, according to Opensignal.

“Opensignal data shows that APAC users observe twice or even thrice as fast 4G download speeds and around 50% faster 5G download speeds when there are large amounts of spectrum bandwidth connected compared with low amounts. Video streaming services also benefit from increased spectrum bandwidth — however, the difference is more marked on 4G than 5G,” Opensignal said in an Aug. 31 report.

The analysis involved May to July data from 30 Asia Pacific markets, including the Philippines.

“When users are connected with greater amounts of 4G spectrum bandwidth, they experience much faster average 4G download speeds across APAC markets. While 5G has launched in many markets, 4G is still prevalent across many markets in the region and continues to contribute to the 5G experience when users connect to 5G with non-standalone access,” Opensignal said.

Average download speeds on 4G for the 20-40 megahertz (MHz) spectrum bandwidth used stood at 35.1 megabits per second (Mbps), 55.2% faster than for connections using spectrum capacity of 20MHz or less, it said.

“The 4G Download Speed score is even higher with at least three carriers used and more than 40MHz spectrum connected. Then users — see average speeds of 46.4Mbps, or more than twice as fast as when there is 0-20MHz spectrum in use. With more than 80MHz of mobile spectrum connected, average 4G download speeds in Asia Pacific rise to 64.1Mbps, which is nearly three times faster compared to speeds with just 0-20MHz connected,” Opensignal said.

“More spectrum bandwidth also boosts 5G Download Speed in the Asia Pacific region significantly. When smartphones are connected with more than 100MHz of total spectrum capacity, average 5G download speeds clocks in at 271.4Mbps. This is approximately a 50% increase in 5G Download Speed compared with 5G speeds with a spectrum bandwidth of 100MHz or less,” it added.

Among Asia Pacific markets, Malaysia benefits the most from wider spectrum bandwidth for 4G download speeds as it was two times faster for 40-60MHz and 2.3 times faster for 60-80MHz.

For 5G, download speed was up to 271.4 Mbps at over 100MHz, from 178.7 Mbps at 0-50MHz.

“4G Download Speed also more than doubles in Indonesia where more than 60MHz spectrum is used, compared to 0-20MHz — and is nearly twice as high in Australia and South Korea using respective bandwidths. Our users in Japan observe a smaller relative impact of more spectrum used for 4G connectivity — average 4G download speeds are only around 40% faster for 40-60MHz bandwidths and slightly more than 70% faster for 60-80MHz,” Opensignal added.

Higher spectrum capacity also boosted video streaming speeds, it said.

“With more spectrum assigned to mobile connections, our users in the APAC region also enjoy shorter initial delays in playing video streams,” Opensignal said.

“The Video Experience score increases from 59.7 points (out of 100) for a spectrum bandwidth of 20MHz or less, up to 71.6 points when the total spectrum bandwidth connected exceeds 80MHz,” it added.

However, Opensignal noted that some Asia-Pacific markets have limited access to spectrum, which affects their economies.

“More spectrum assigned to mobile operators leads to faster speeds and a better mobile user experience — which in turn leads to socioeconomic benefits,” it said.

Ronald Gustilo, national campaigner of Digital Pinoys, said spectrum access and allocation in the country should conform to constitutional limitations.

“Anyone seeking to access additional spectrum should secure a congressional franchise as it is a finite resource which should only be available to Filipino nationals under the 1987 Constitution,” he said in a Viber message to BusinessWorld.

“The government must welcome applicants so long as they comply with the requirements of the law,” he said on the creation of proper regulations for spectrum management. “Further, government should focus more on developing connectivity in isolated, far-flung communities.” — M.H.L. Antivola