Mobile data speeds across the country continued to improve as the LTE service of PLDT wireless subsidiary Smart Communications set the pace nationwide in the fourth quarter of 2017, according to a survey of the wireless coverage research firm OpenSignal.
The OpenSignal survey, which measured the performance of operators in major Asian markets, showed that the average Smart LTE download speed across the Philippines was 12.7 Mbps, up 38.5% from the same period a year ago, and well ahead of Globe Telecom’s 7.5 Mbps.
The results also showed that Smart LTE speeds ranked 28th, while local rival Globe placed 40th out of 43 operators included in the rankings, which counted operators from Singapore, South Korea, Japan, and Taiwan.
Smart LTE speeds led the way in all the regions of the country: 13.3 Mbps in the National Capital Region (NCR), 12 Mbps in the Visayas, 12.8 Mbps in South Luzon, 14.7 Mbps in Mindanao and 11.4 Mbps in North Central Luzon, compared to Globe’s 8.5 Mbps, 6.6 Mbps, 6.4 Mbps, 7.9 Mbps and 7 Mbps, respectively.
The OpenSignal results also showed that Smart led in terms of network responsiveness, with its LTE service posting lower latency nationwide. Network latency measures how much time it takes for a packet of data to get from one designated point to another.
According to the OpenSignal results, Smart LTE in the Visayas registered the biggest improvement, with speeds now at 12 Mbps, up 62.38% from the same period a year ago.
In Mindanao, Smart LTE registered 14.7 Mbps, even higher speeds than the national average, and significantly ahead of the Globe’s 7.9 Mbps.
The results also showed that Smart is widening its lead in LTE speeds in NCR, where LTE availability is now around 75%, and where Smart LTE speeds have improved to 13.3 Mbps, up 33.13% from the same period a year ago.
“These results are proof that our multi-year investments in network improvements are paying off. By continuously expanding our LTE networks, we are bringing a faster and more responsive network to our customers across the country,” said Mario G. Tamayo, PLDT and Smart senior vice president for network planning and engineering.
In 2018, parent company PLDT’s capex will exceed P50 billion, and is expected to stay at that level over the next two years. That would bring the group’s total capex from 2016 — the year PLDT embarked on its network and IT transformation programs — to nearly P260 billion, or approximately $5 billion.
This is on top of the nearly P175 billion or $3.4 billion of capex that PLDT invested in network building in the immediately preceding five-year period (2011 to 2015).
Last year, Smart’s LTE and 3G expansion program initially covered Boracay, Metro Davao, Metro Cebu, Rizal, and Metro Manila and has since proceeded to other parts of the country.
As a result, the company said it is on track to fulfill its commitment to the National Telecommunications Commission to cover over 90% of the country’s cities and municipalities with mobile broadband using LTE and 3G by 2019.