The Philippines’ mobile internet has improved, but it continues to grapple with challenges that place it behind some of its Southeast Asian counterparts, according to mobile analytics company Opensignal.

The Philippines saw a 37.7% increase in average overall download speeds, reaching 21.6 megabits per second (Mbps), 14 months after President Ferdinand R. Marcos, Jr. was inaugurated, Opensignal said in a Sept. 21 report.

Despite these improvements, the Philippines fell to the fourth from the third position among Southeast Asian markets in terms of download speed. Malaysia, in particular, made significant strides with a remarkable 122.6% increase in download speed. The regional ranking now stood at Singapore, Malaysia, Vietnam, and the Philippines.

The high capital expenditure by the country’s operators, with Globe Telecom investing a substantial P101.4 billion in mobile and fixed networks last year, played a pivotal role in driving these improvements, according to Opensignal.

Additionally, Executive Order No. 32, issued by Mr. Marcos, streamlined the permitting process for the construction of telecommunications and internet infrastructure, a move welcomed by telecom companies, it noted.

“The Marcos administration will… need to incentivize operators to continue investing significantly in their networks if the President’s digitization goals are to become a reality.”

In his second State of the Nation Address, Mr. Marcos said that mobile and broadband internet speeds had improved and would undergo further upgrades to cater to geographically isolated and disadvantaged areas as well.

The Philippines still had the slowest average upload speeds at 5.0Mbps, albeit ranking third in the highest percentage increase at 36.1%, according to the report.

The Philippines still held the title for the slowest average upload speeds at 5.0Mbps. However, it recorded a notable 36.1% increase in upload speeds. At the same time, there was a significant improvement in the multiplayer mobile game experience, with a 28.8% increase, although the country ranked sixth in experience points.

In terms of availability, the Philippines rose from the last position to the fifth with 95.3 points. Availability referred to the proportion of time users spent with a 3G or better connection.

To remain competitive in mobile connectivity, the Philippines needs to align its government initiatives with proven drivers of growth in the digital space, Opensignal said.

Opensignal conducted its data collection among seven Southeast Asian markets from the 90 days ending June 29 last year, to the 90 days ending Aug. 29 — 14 months after the inauguration of Mr. Marcos. — Miguel Hanz L. Antivola