State of Mobile Networks: Philippines (March 2017)

Globe and Smart have been ramping up their high-speed mobile data services in the Philippines since their first LTE networks came online in 2012. We felt it was high time to see how the two operators compared. Analyzing more than 500 million measurements, OpenSignal examined the typical experience our users saw not just on Smart and Globe's 4G networks but also on the 3G networks that are still critical to providing mobile data services in the Philippines.

Report Facts

512,100,214
Measurements
28,972
Test Devices
2016-11-01 - 2017-01-31
Sample Period
Philippines
Report Location

Highlights

Smart takes the LTE speed prize

Smart surpassed Globe in our LTE speed tests with an average download connection of 9.9 Mbps. We measured Globe 4G speeds at 7.4 Mbps.

Globe scores highest in LTE availability

While Smart may have had the edge in our 4G speed test, Globe was well ahead of its rival in our LTE availability rankings. Our testers were able to find a Globe LTE signal 55.3% of the time, while they latched onto Smart's LTE network only 40% of time.

A close race in 3G and overall speed

We recorded draws between Globe and Smart in both our 3G speed and overall speed metrics. Both averaged 3G downloads just over 2 Mbps in our tests. While Smart won our LTE speed award, Globe's better 4G availability score brought its average overall mobile data connection in line with Smart's in our measurements.

Philippines 4G performance still comparatively low

Though LTE debuted in the Philippines in 2012, the country's 4G networks are still behind much of the world in performance. Both operators' speed scores fell well short of the global average of 17.4 Mbps, while roughly half of our mobile data speed tests failed to acquire an LTE signal.

Awards Table

Download Speed: 4G Download Speed: 3G Download Speed: Overall Latency: 4G Latency: 3G Availability: 4G

Globe

medal medal medal medal

Smart

medal medal medal medal medal

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Performance by Metric

Availability: 4G

This metric shows the proportion of time OpenSignal users have an LTE connection available to them on each operator’s network. It's a measure of how often users can access a 4G network rather than a measure of geographic or population coverage.

Download Speed: 4G

This metric shows the average download speed for each operator on LTE connections as measured by OpenSignal users.

Download Speed: 3G

This metric shows the average download speed for each operator on 3G connections as measured by OpenSignal users.

Download Speed: Overall

This metric shows the average download speed experienced by OpenSignal users across all of an operator's 3G and 4G networks. Overall speed doesn't just factor in 3G and LTE speeds, but also the availability of each network technology. Operators with lower LTE availability tend to have lower overall speeds because their customers spend more time connected to slower 3G networks.

Latency: 4G

This metric shows the average latency for each operator on LTE connections as measured by OpenSignal users. Latency, measured in milliseconds, is the delay data experiences as it makes a round trip through the network. A lower score in this metric is a sign of a more responsive network.

Latency: 3G

This metric shows the average latency for each operator on 3G connections as measured by OpenSignal users. Latency, measured in milliseconds, is the delay data experiences as it makes a round trip through the network. A lower score in this metric is a sign of a more responsive network.

Analysis

The Philippines is definitely one of the most intriguing markets we've covered as it is one of the few countries in the world with only two major mobile providers. Just because Globe and Smart have the archipelago country to themselves doesn't mean there's no competition, however. The two battled it out in our first State of Mobile Networks for the Philippines, going toe to toe in each of our performance metrics. Neither one emerged as the dominant provider of mobile data services.

For this report, OpenSignal drew on 512 million measurements taken by 28,972 smartphone users between Nov. 1, 2016, and Jan. 31, 2017, to compare the 3G and 4G experience of our users on the Globe and Smart networks. First let's start by examining how the operators fared in 4G.

LTE access currently is far from widespread in the Philippines, where our users were able to connect to a 4G network in roughly half our tests, but one operator did hold an advantage. Our users on Globe were able to find an LTE signal 55.3% of the time compared to 40% of the time for our Smart users. But whenever our testers were able to make a Smart 4G connection, they enjoyed a much faster experience. Smart averaged LTE download speeds of 9.9 Mbps in our tests, compared to 7.4 Mbps on Globe. Still, LTE speeds for both operators are relatively slow from a global perspective. In our last State of LTE report we measured the worldwide average LTE connection speed at 17.4 Mbps.

Given current limitations of the country's LTE networks, UMTS and HSPA networks remain important technologies in the Philippines. And in the case of 3G, both operators were evenly matched. Globe and Smart were statistically tied for 3G speed award with an HSPA download average of just over 2.1 Mbps. Combining 3G and 4G connections and accounting for the availability of each network, we calculated the typical mobile data speeds experienced by our users on each operator. The result was again a tie as both operators averaged around 3.3 Mbps in overall speed. Even though our users experienced faster 4G speeds on Smart, Globe's better 4G availability measurements allowed it to close the gap in overall speed.

The last metric we examined was latency, which is a measure of a connection's responsiveness. Networks with low latency perform better when near instantaneous reaction time is important, for instance when a user is making a two-way VoIP or video call. Smart had the lowest (best) latency in our 3G tests, averaging 157.2 milliseconds. But in our 4G latency tests, we had another draw with both operators averaging just under 56ms.

4G in the Philippines may not be able to match just yet the high-powered, far-reaching networks we're seeing in many countries in East Asia, but there's good news on the horizon for local LTE users. Both Smart and Globe have announced aggressive plans to expand their LTE footprints and capacity, building thousands of new cell sites and tapping new frequency bands.

Our Methodology

OpenSignal data is collected from consumer smartphones and recorded under conditions of normal usage. As opposed to drive-test data, which attempts to simulate what a user might experience by using the same devices to measure network performance in a small number of locations, we take our measurements from millions of smartphones owned by regular people who have downloaded OpenSignal’s apps.

Those measurements are taken wherever users happen to be, whether indoors or out, in a city or in the countryside, representing a mobile data service the way users experience it. We continually adapt our methodology to best represent the changing experience of consumers on mobile networks and therefore comparisons of the results to past reports should be considered indicative only. For more information on how we collect and analyze our data see our methodology page.

For this particular report, 512,100,214 datapoints were collected from 28,972 users during the period: 2016-11-01 - 2017-01-31.

All data has been collected from users of the OpenSignal mobile app for Android or iOS.

For every metric we've calculated statistical confidence intervals and plotted them on all of the graphs. When confidence intervals overlap for a certain metric, our measured results are too close to declare a winner in a particular category. In those cases, we show a statistical draw. For this reason, some metrics have multiple operator winners.

©2017 OpenSignal, Inc. All rights reserved.

OpenSignal, Inc retains ownership of this report including all intellectual property rights, data, content, graphs & analysis. Reports produced by OpenSignal, Inc may not be quoted, reproduced, distributed, published for any commercial purpose (including use in advertisements or other promotional content) without prior written consent.

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