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A first look at DITO’s mobile network experience

In recent years, mobile experience in the Philippines has been improving. With a new operator we now examine to what extent DITO can accelerate progress. Our initial look at the mobile experience of our DITO users in the Philippines reveals that after an initial advantage immediately post-launch, their download and upload speeds in Central Metro Cebu* and Davao City fell slightly to the point where they were similar to the overall averages (calculated across all three operators). However, DITO’s lead over the overall score for Upload Speed Experience was restored in Central Metro Cebu, in the 30 days starting July 6, 2021. DITO users’ Video Experience in these two areas has essentially remained in line with the all-operator average since launch and DITO users’ Upload Speed Experience in Metro Manila was consistently above the all-operator average. However, as a degree of volatility is normal for newly launched operators, it’s important to monitor and analyze how the experience evolves over time.

On March 8, 2021, DITO, the Philippines’ third mobile network operator launched commercial services in metropolitan Cebu and Davao which was not early enough to be included in our latest Philippines Mobile Network Experience Report. DITO added a further 15 areas on May 1, 2021, and launched mobile services in Metro Manila on May 17, 2021.

The map above reflects this sequence of commercial launches — a high proportion of DITO users are located in Metro Manila, Cebu and Davao. Because DITO’s users and network are still at an early stage, and network roll outs are continuing, it’s important to analyze those areas where DITO has had higher levels of adoption as an early indicator of how DITO’s mobile experience compares. Therefore we have compared the early adopter mobile experience of our DITO users against the experience of all operators in Central Metro Cebu, Davao City and Metro Manila. 

In the first few months of DITO’s mobile service we have already seen significant changes in experience. In both Central Metro Cebu and Davao City, the average download speeds seen by our DITO users in the 30 day period starting March 8, 2021, were statistically higher than the overall figure. However, the reverse was true of the following 30 day period in both cities. In the last two 30-day periods — commencing June 6, 2021 and July 6, 2021 — there was no significant difference between the speeds seen by our DITO users and the overall speeds in Central Metro Cebu, but in Davao City the overall speeds were significantly faster than those seen by our DITO users. 

In Metro Manila, our DITO users’ Download Speed Experience was essentially the same as the all operator average in the first 30 days in which DITO’s commercial service was up and running in the area. However, it was below the all operator average in the following two 30 day periods.

The initial declines in the average speeds seen by our DITO users are not surprising. It’s common for initial network launches to lead to a volatile network experience. On the one hand, operators will be working to solve early teething issues with the network and be adding base stations and capacity which should boost experience. But equally, the network will be gaining customers and data consumption will be rising which may act as a drag on network experience. So, early analysis is an important indicator, but it’s essential to continue to analyze how mobile experience changes over time.

We have seen similar variations in mobile experience play out for new entrants in other countries for example, with TPG in Singapore and Rakuten in Japan

Upload speeds are becoming increasingly important to consumers, as social media encourages users to upload and share their pictures and videos.

With Upload Speed Experience we saw a different story between the three areas — in Central Metro Cebu, DITO users observed statistically higher upload speeds than the overall average in all but the data collection period starting June 6, 2021, and in that period DITO’s score statistically tied with the overall score. In contrast, in Davao City, DITO’s score only exceeded the overall average to a statistically significant degree in the 30 days starting March 8, 2021 — in the other periods there was no significant difference between the two scores. Turning to Metro Manila, our DITO users reported significantly higher Upload Speed Experience scores than the all operator average in the three 30 day periods we analyzed.  

Unlike speed, Video Experience tends to be more sensitive to the operator’s core network and how it connects to the major content delivery networks (CDNs), rather than the radio access network (RAN), which partly explains there being less difference in Video Experience between regions.

In both Central Metro Cebu and Davao City, the Video Experience of our DITO users was nearly indistinguishable from that calculated across our users on all three mobile networks. The only exception was in Central Metro Cebu in the 30 days starting April 7, 2021, when DITO’s score was significantly lower than the overall score. In Metro Manila, DITO users’ score was statistically tied with the all operator average in the first 30 day period, but dropped below it in the 30 day periods starting June 16 and July 16, 2021. Looking across all three areas, both the scores seen by our DITO users and the all operator average placed in the Good (55-65) category, with only a few exceptions. In the first 30 day period we examined in Metro Manila, both our DITO users’ Video Experience and the all operator average placed in the Very Good (65-75) category. 

A Very Good Video Experience indicates generally fast loading times and only occasional stalling but the experience might have been somewhat inconsistent across users and/or video providers/resolutions. A Good Video Experience means a less consistent experience, even from the same video streaming provider and particularly for higher resolutions, with noticeably slower loading times and stalling not being uncommon.

As with speed, the Video Experience of DITO’s users will likely change further over time as DITO’s network matures, becomes available in many more locations, and as DITO grows its customer base and the network becomes busier.

The analysis in this insight indicates that so far DITO’s entry into the Filipino mobile market is evolutionary, not revolutionary, for mobile experience because DITO’s scores were mostly similar to — or below — the overall scores of all operators, with the exception of Upload Speed Experience in both Central Metro Cebu and Metro Manila.

However, given that DITO’s competitors – Globe and Smart – have had far longer to roll out their own 4G networks, these initial results are impressive and bode well for the market’s long-term competitiveness — particularly if DITO can increase capacity to keep up with the influx of new users (the operator hit the two million subscriber mark on August 3, 2021) as it grows. 

Opensignal will continue to report on the mobile experience of our DITO users and in time we will include DITO in our regular mobile network experience reports on the Philippines. 


* For the purpose of this analysis, we have defined the following cities and municipalities as Central Metro Cebu: Cebu City, Consolacion, Cordoba, Lapu-Lapu City, Mandaue City and Talisay City.