5G beats Wifi for download speed and multiplayer mobile gaming in the Philippines

This new Opensignal analysis shows that smartphone users saw much faster download speeds connected to 5G than when using Wifi in the Philippines. Also, for multiplayer mobile gaming 5G delivers a superior experience to Wifi, unlike older 4G which was noticeably inferior to Wifi. The quality of the 5G experience shows that 5G has the potential to offer better connectivity inside homes, shops, offices and other locations even where Wifi is already available.


While smartphone users’ Wifi download speeds were on average 10.4 Mbps (66.1%) faster than those seen on 4G, 5G speeds were a breathtaking 112.4 Mbps faster than the average speeds of 26.3 Mbps observed when connected to Wifi. Clearly, the arrival of 5G changes the balance between cellular and Wifi connectivity — as 5G cellular connections are typically faster than on Wifi, whereas Wifi has the advantage when cellular users are connected to 4G.  

Our Filipino smartphone users clocked up an impressive 138.6 Mbps for 5G Download Speed — 5.3 times and 8.8 times faster than the average download speeds seen when connected to Wifi or 4G, respectively. 


The same cannot be said for upload speeds, as the average upload speeds seen by our users when connected to Wifi (14.4 Mbps) were 1.6 Mbps (12.6%) faster than those seen when using 5G. However, Filipinos’ 5G Upload Speed score was 3.1 times higher than the 4.1 Mbps they observed for 4G Upload Speed. 


Turning to one of the pastimes that has benefited from the pandemic, our Filipino users had a better experience when playing multiplayer mobile games on smartphones when connected to 5G than on Wifi, given their corresponding scores of 62.5 and 59.5 points for Games Experience on a 100 point scale, respectively. Opensignal’s Games Experience measures how mobile users experience real-time multiplayer mobile gaming on an operator’s network. Measured on a scale of 0-100, it analyzes how the multiplayer mobile gaming experience is affected by network conditions including latency, packet loss and jitter to determine the impact on gameplay and the overall experience.


Similarly, when it comes to streaming video on smartphones, our users in the Philippines had their best experience when connected to 5G. Their 5G Video Experience was an impressive 20.9 points (43.9%) higher on a 100 point scale than their Video Experience when connected via Wifi.

The arrival of 5G means that Wifi is no longer always superior to cellular
This new Opensignal analysis shows the arrival of 5G means that cellular connections are no longer always inferior to Wifi. In fact, average 5G download speeds are faster than Wifi and 5G currently enables the best experience in the Philippines on average when playing multiplayer mobile games or streaming video.

However, Wifi will continue to have an important role — especially when backing up files and downloading large apps due to the low cost of data it provides compared to many mobile plans. Also, 5G services need to expand considerably because in the majority of locations only 4G is available — our 5G users in the Philippines connected to 5G 13% of the time and were on average connected to a 5G signal in four out of 10 locations they visited in the 90 day period starting on 1st March 2022. Operators are addressing this issue — for example, Globe claimed to have deployed an extra 380 new 5G sites in the first quarter of this year.

While the Wifi experience is improving due to growing adoption of WiFi 6 (802.11ax), the Wifi experience is often held back by devices not having been upgraded to support the latest Wifi standards or by the fixed broadband connection that underpins the Wifi network. In a country with many areas without fixed broadband infrastructure, older 4G cellular services may even be supporting a Wifi network as its backhaul, rather than the wired xDSL or fiber connection that would be common in a European or North East Asian market.

Even where xDSL exists, it is often faster and less expensive for operators to upgrade cellular networks than it is to lay new ultra high speed and high capacity fiber to upgrade fixed broadband. This is especially true in a large country with many islands and extensive rural areas like the Philippines.

However, with PLDT seeking to migrate all its fixed line customers to fiber by the end of 2023 and Globe claiming that it rolled out 1.4 million Fiber To The Home (FTTH) lines in 2021, it’s clear that the race between cellular and Wifi is by far from over.