Filipino users with poor network experience are at risk of switching mobile operator

In this new analysis Opensignal has investigated the relationship between mobile network experience in the Philippines and smartphone users that subsequently switch their mobile operator which we call “Leavers”. Opensignal data highlights the importance of communicating the quality of network experience in advertising to attract users and for retention teams to avoid losing customers.

Leavers spent more time with no cellular signal on their old operator and spent less time connected to 4G or 5G compared with the average experience of all users on their original mobile operator’s network. In addition, DITO and Smart Leavers observed significantly slower speeds than the all user average on their original operator prior to switching to a new mobile operator. 

Operators’ retention teams can use such measures to identify users that are at most risk of switching. Meanwhile, the marked improvement Globe Leavers see after switching in their download speeds — and similarly, Smart Leavers in their time spent on 4G/5G — suggest opportunities for their rivals’ acquisition teams.

Opensignal data shows that DITO, Globe and Smart Leavers spent more time without a cellular signal before they switched mobile operator than the average across all our users on their original operator. This is particularly strong for DITO Leavers, who experienced 1.8 times more time with no signal than the all user average, compared to 1.6 times for Smart and Globe Leavers, respectively. In addition, only DITO Leavers saw a statistically significant improvement in the proportion of time they spent with no signal in the 30 days after they changed their operator with a drop from 2.2% to 1.1%. 

Regardless of the operator they left, all Leavers spent statistically less time with a 4G or 5G connection before they switched from their original operator than the all user average. The experience gap among Leavers for Time on 4G/5G ranges between 1.6 for DITO and 2.4 percentage points for Globe.


However, while in our  previous analysis on churn our Globe Leavers saw a statistically significant improvement in Time on 4G/5G after switching but our Smart Leavers did not — we now see the opposite. Now, Smart Leavers’ Time on 4G/5G score rises by 6.3 percentage points in the 30 days after switching, while our Globe Leavers’ score drops by 2.1 percentage points. A key reason for this change is that the Globe’s Time on 4G/5G has improved, allowing it to draw level with Smart in September 2021 and consistently beat its rival from May 2022 onwards.  

Globe said that in 2022 it deployed 2,267 new 5G sites, connected 1,702 new cell sites and upgraded more than 13,600 mobile sites to 4G. This effort has clearly reaped dividends because Globe caught up and then overtook Smart in the amount of time users spend connected to 4G or 5G. Also, Globe has cut into DITO’s lead. Notably, Globe was the only Filipino operator to be recognized in the Opensignal Global Mobile Network Experience Awards 2023 as a Global Rising Star for the percentage improvement in Time on 4G/5G between H2 2021 and H2 2022. 

Turning to the average download speeds seen by our smartphone users, our DITO and Smart Leavers observed 6.8% and 6.9% slower speeds, respectively, compared to all users on their original operator. In contrast, there is no statistically significant difference between Globe Leavers’ Download Speed Experience and the all user average. However, Globe Leavers’ speeds improved markedly in the 30 days after they left Globe, rising by an impressive 7.9 Mbps (52.4%). 

There was no significant difference between DITO Leavers’ speeds before and after switching operator, while Smart Leavers’ speeds declined after switching — falling by 5.6Mbps (24.8%).

Looking ahead, there are good reasons to keep a close eye on the Filipino mobile market. In addition to DITO’s ambitious target to at least double its user base from 14 million to  28 million in 2023, NOW Telecom plans to launch a pilot 5G network in parts of Metro Manila. Also, Smart announced back in August 2023 that it is seeking to sunset its 3G network in 2023 — a move that will free up spectrum for use with 4G and 5G, improving the mobile experience for typical smartphone users.

In such a rapidly evolving market, operators’ retention and acquisition teams will need to look for every way to grow their customer base. Opensignal’s analysis shows that Leavers have a worse mobile experience than typical users, in terms of the time they spent without a cellular signal, the amount of time they connect to 4G or 5G and — and in the case of DITO and Smart Leavers — their download speeds. Addressing these pain points will aid customer retention.

Similarly, this analysis highlights the improved experience Globe and Smart Leavers see in average download speeds and Time on 4G/5G, respectively, after switching. The difference in Leavers’ experience indicates opportunities for operator acquisition teams to highlight their mobile network experience strengths in these areas in marketing and advertising to attract new users.