A new report from analytics firm Opensignal paints a positive picture of the state of 4G/LTE coverage in the Philippines.
Since its last assessment in Q4 2017, Opensignal reported “impressive improvements” by the country’s two main players Smart Communications (owned by PLDT) and Globe Telecom, noting that its audit for the quarter covering April-June 2020 saw a 20% increase in 4G availability.
Opensignal’s availability metric is based on the amount of time that user devices are connected to 4G or LTE services. Among Smart’s subscribers, this rose by 27.8%, from 59.1% in Q4 2017 to 86.9% in Q2 this year. Its combined 3G and 4G offerings now reach over 95% of the Philippines’ population, reports TeleGeography.
While it has not quite kept pace with Smart, Globe’s 4G availability passed 80% for the first time ever in Q2 2020, up to nearly 81% from 66.4%. Since Opensignal’s last audit, Globe’s average download speeds were up by 84.2%, a 3.5Mbps increase. For Smart, the increase was 4.3Mbps, or 78.1%.
Opensignal’s report offers some vindication to the operators, both of which have repeatedly come under fire from the country’s president Rodrigo Duterte, who takes issue with their “lousy” service.
Duterte recently threatened to expropriate their spectrum holdings unless they improved their offerings – although it now appears demonstrable that they have very much done so, with Opensignal saying: “Our users in the Philippines have also seen at least ten consecutive quarters of improvement in the proportion of time that they spend connected to 4G.”