Understanding mobile experience explains why users in the Philippines switch mobile operators

It has been an eventful period for the Filipino mobile market. DITO recently claimed to have hit the seven million active subscriber mark, aided by an initial unlimited data for 30 days promotion package, which has been followed by additional promotions. But September 2021 also saw the introduction of Mobile Number Portability, which allows Filipino Leavers to retain their mobile phone numbers when they change network — which makes it even easier for users to change operators by removing the friction of having to switch to a new number at the same time.

In this new analysis, Opensignal has found that Filipino smartphone users that switched their mobile operator on average saw a significantly worse mobile experience before they changed operator. Such Leavers spent more time without a signal and less time connected to 4G or 5G than the average of all users on their original operator.

We looked at the two main Filipino operators — Globe and Smart — along with the new player DITO, which launched its commercial mobile services in March 2021.

DITO, Globe and Smart Leavers spent significantly more time with no signal than the average reported for all our users on those networks. The difference was 1.5 times more time for Globe Leavers, 1.6 times more for DITO and 1.7 times for Smart. 

Looking at Time on 4G or 5G, leavers on each of the three operators’ networks spent less time connected to these network generations than the average across all our users on their original operator. The difference was highest for Globe Leavers — 2.5 percentage points — followed by DITO leavers with a gap of two percentage points. Smart Leavers spent only 1.6 percentage points less time connected to 4G or 5G compared to the average calculated across all of our Smart users. 


Switching networks does not often give Leavers a better experience

Opensignal compared Leavers’ experience in the last 30 days on their original mobile operator’s network against their experience during the first 30 days after the switch to their new operator. There was no significant difference between the proportion of time Leavers from all three operators spent with no signal before or after they switched to a new network.

However, we saw a different story with Time on 4G or 5G. Our Globe Leavers saw a 4.6 percentage point improvement after they switched to another network, and our DITO Leavers saw a 8.4 percentage point drop in their Time on 4G or 5G after they churned or switched operators. This greater difference for DITO Leavers is because our users observed the highest Time on 4G or 5G on DITO’s network and so when they switched to either Globe or Smart it’s more likely they would see a fall in this measure. Only our Smart Leavers did not see a significant change in the proportion of time they spent on 4G or 5G when churning. 

Even in a rapidly changing market, Opensignal’s analysis shows that mobile network experience plays a key role in customers' decision to leave their mobile service provider, and that operators must focus on offering a high-quality mobile experience to retain their customers. In addition, there are opportunities to highlight strong mobile experience in acquisition marketing to target rival operator customers that have a poor experience.