Opensignal has investigated the mobile network experience of its users across five regions (Mindanao, the National Capital Region — NCR, North & Central Luzon, South Luzon and the Visayas). In our new analysis we discovered that our users have seen significant improvements in all five regions between Q4 2018 and Q3 2020 for mobile Video Experience, Download Speed Experience, Latency Experience and 4G Availability.
This analysis expands on our previous Insights in which we looked at our users’ national Video Experience and Latency Experience — together with their national Download Speed Experience and 4G Availability — and delves deeper by teasing out the way in which the Philippines’ mobile network experience varies from region to region.
Starting with the overall Video Experience, our users saw the largest improvement in percentage terms in North & Central Luzon — an increase of 28.6% — and our users in all five regions saw their Video Experience scores increase by more than 19%.
While our Globe users observed lower Video Experience scores than their Smart counterparts across all five regions in both Q4 2018 and Q3 2020, Globe saw its scores grow faster in percentage terms in three regions. The two exceptions were South Luzon — where Smart came out ahead by just 0.8 of a percentage point — and the Visayas, where our Smart users saw their Video Experience improve by 12.6 percentage points more than their Globe counterparts. However, our Smart users observed significantly larger improvements in absolute terms across four of the regions, with the only exception being North & Central Luzon, where both our Smart and Globe users saw their Video Experience score improve by 10.3 points.
Globe has made particularly strong progress in North & Central Luzon and the NCR, where its score rose by 40.6% and 30.3%, respectively, between Q4 2018 and Q3 2020. By way of contrast, our Globe users in the Visayas were the only users in a region at the operator-level to see a percentage improvement below 20% within this timeframe.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, our users saw the highest Video Experience in the NCR and this was true for both our Smart and Globe users in both quarters. In addition, in Q3 2020 our Smart users in the NCR were the only ones to observe a Very Good (65-75) Video Experience.
Moving onto our users’ average overall download speeds, when looking at their experience across all operators, there were four regions where users’ observed speeds increased by more than 20%. There was one exception — the Visayas — where speeds increased by a more modest 12.2% between Q4 2018 and Q3 2020. The most impressive gains were made within the NCR, where our users saw their Download Speed Experience increase by 28.9% to 13.4 Mbps, over double the speeds seen in Mindanao and the Visayas.
Switching to operator-level data, our Smart users saw their speeds increase by more than 50% in two regions — Mindanao and South Luzon, but their counterparts in North & Central Luzon saw a smaller increase of 5.3%. Our users in the NCR saw roughly the same increase in percentage terms regardless of which operator’s network they used. Our Globe users in North & Central Luzon saw an increase of 42.1%, but their counterparts in the Visayas saw their average overall download speeds fall by 2.5% while those in Mindanao rose by less than 10%. In Q4 2018, our Smart users observed the fastest overall download speeds in four out of five regions, with a statistical tie between their score and that of our Globe users’ in Mindanao. Smart achieved a clean sweep in Q3 2020, with our users on its network observing the fastest speeds across all five regions.
Another important measure of the mobile experience is latency, which refers to the delay users experience as data makes a round trip through the network. If the latency of their network is high, the network will feel less responsive and be slower to react to their requests. Measured in milliseconds (ms), the lower the score the better the experience reported by our users.
When looking at the overall results, our users in the NCR and South Luzon saw the largest improvement between Q4 2018 and Q3 2020, with their scores improving by 14.5-14.7%. In contrast, our users in the Visayas and Mindanao saw theirs improve by only 3.5% and 9.2%, respectively. In both the latter two regions, when we broke the results down by operator, our Globe users saw their Latency Experience deteriorate over this period, with those in the Visayas seeing their score worsen by 9.1%, while those in Mindanao saw theirs weaken by 2.3%.
In contrast our Smart users in the Visayas and Mindanao saw their Latency Experience scores improve by 18.9% and 28.3%, respectively and the latter was the largest improvement in percentage terms seen by our Smart users across all five regions. In addition, the smallest improvement seen by our Smart users in North & Central Luzon — 14% — was equal to the highest seen by our Globe users, which was in the same region.
In Q4 2018, there was no statistical difference between the two operators’ scores in four out of five regions, with the only exception being the NCR where our Smart users observed the best Latency Experience. By Q3 2020 the data tells a different story with our Smart users observing the best Latency Experience in four regions with the only exception being North & Central Luzon, where the two operators’ scores were statistically tied.
Finally, when we looked at 4G Availability — the proportion of time our users spent connected to 4G services — by Q3 2020, it had risen above 80% in both North & Central Luzon and South Luzon and above 90% in the NCR. As a consequence, the only regions where 4G Availability remained below 80% in Q3 2020 were Mindanao and the Visayas. Our users in both the NCR and the latter two regions observed improvements in percentage (not percentage point) terms that were less than 20%, with the smallest improvement seen in the NCR — though it should be noted that the NCR had the highest 4G Availability in both Q4 2018 and Q3 2020.
Switching to our operator-specific results, our Smart users saw some impressive gains between Q4 2018 and Q3 2020, with those in North & Central Luzon and Mindanao seeing their 4G Availability scores rise by 41.5% and 34.5%, respectively. In all five regions, our Smart users’ scores increased by more in percentage and absolute terms than their Globe counterparts. As a consequence our Smart users observed higher scores than our Globe users in Q3 2020 in four out of five regions, with the only exception being the NCR, where there was no statistical difference between the two operators’ scores.
Across all four measures of the mobile experience that we’ve analyzed in this insight, both our Globe and Smart users reported their best scores in the NCR, in both Q4 2018 and Q3 2020. In the future it will be interesting to see whether our users’ experience in the other regions catches up with that in the NCR or falls further behind. Much will rest on the extent to which 5G network rollouts benefit rural users as well as their urban counterparts and on any differences between the regions in terms of the ease of obtaining the necessary permissions to add new sites.
Both Globe and Smart have made excellent progress since Q4 2018 in the five regions we’ve focused on in this report in terms of Video Experience, Download Speed Experience, Latency Experience and 4G Availability with only a few exceptions.
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