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Increased spending shakes up the mobile market in the Philippines

The Philippines mobile market has become fiercely competitive, with all three operators vying for the top spot. Smart dominated Opensignal’s mobile network experience reports on the Philippines for a long while, but increased spending by Globe in 2022, the introduction of a third national operator (DITO) and the launch of 5G has shaken things up.


Globe spent a record-high of ₱101.4 billion on its mobile and fixed networks last year — focusing a significant amount into improving infrastructure. The operator beat its own rollout targets for 2022 — with 2,267 new 5G sites built, and more than 13,600 mobile sites upgraded to 4G.


Network investment has had a big impact on the mobile experience: Globe users spend more time with an active connection and have a better Video Experience than do Smart and DITO users. Looking at time spent connected to 4G/5G, time with no signal and the proportion of time spent with poor 4G Reference Signal Received Power (RSRP) — a measure of signal strength — Globe is top for all three.


It would be wise for Globe not to get complacent though. Both Globe and Smart saw a large rise in mobile traffic in 2022 — with year-on-year growth at 25% for Globe and a whopping 30% for Smart. With greater network usage, operators need to invest more to avoid increased congestion. If they don’t, then users’ network experience will suffer, and they will risk increased churn.

In the Philippines, two of the most important metrics are Video Experience and time with no signal. Here we have segmented our users’ experience rather than showing the average scores, which can obscure the proportion of users struggling with a suboptimal mobile experience.


Globe has the highest percentage of users (88.3%) that spend less than 1% of their time with no signal. This is 1.7 percentage points better than Smart, and Globe outperforms DITO by 3.5 percentage points. At the other extreme, looking at the percentage of users that spend over 5% of time with no signal, Globe once again does best. The operator has just 4.3% of users spending 5% or more of their time without a signal, with Smart again playing second fiddle with 5.2% of users — while DITO has some catching up to do with 5.9% of users.


There is a slight break in the pattern for Video Experience with Smart leading in the proportion of users with an Excellent Video Experience; DITO and Globe are just behind, both with the same percentage of users — 6%. This changes when looking at the other categories — compared to DITO and Smart, Globe does far better. Globe has a much higher percentage of users in the Very Good category and a far lower percentage of users that have a Poor Video Experience.  This distribution indicates users on Globe will likely enjoy a more consistent video experience than users on Smart’s or DITO’s networks.

The amount of time that Globe users spend with an active 4G or 5G connection rose sharply during 2022 to settle at just over 95%. This period correlates with Globe’s increased network spending. Globe’s score has diverged from Smart’s score which has consistently remained around the 90% mark. However, Globe’s steep ascent has cooled off in recent months, remaining level in 2023. DITO continues to score the highest for this metric. The operator is at an advantage, as both Globe and Smart operate 5G and 4G networks while supporting older technologies (2G & 3G) — while DITO is only deploying 4G and 5G networks in its roll out.

Users in the Philippines now spend the least amount of time without a mobile connection on Globe’s network. At the beginning of 2022, DITO and Smart were on fairly even footing with Globe, often in a statistical tie. Once again, Globe has pulled away from its rivals during 2022, while DITO and Smart mostly tie for second place.


Time with no signal is an important metric to our Filipino users. A recent Opensignal analysis indicated that users that spent more time without a mobile signal were more likely to switch in the hope of a better experience.

A lack of signal isn’t the only factor that can affect a users’ mobile experience — a weak signal can be just as frustrating. 4G Reference Signal Received Power (RSRP) quantifies the 4G signal strength of a network. Globe users consistently spend less time with a poor network signal than do our Smart and DITO users. During 2022 Smart’s and DITO’s scores were mostly statistically tied — Smart briefly broke away in late 2022, but an increase in the percentage of Smart users with Poor signal brought it back on level terms with DITO in the second quarter of 2023.


Network investment helps to improve mobile experience and minimize churn


In the past, Smart spent a considerable amount of time at the top of Opensignal’s mobile network experience reports for the Philippines. The operator won the majority of the awards, peaking with a clean sweep in the April 2021 report. Since this point Smart has steadily declined in the share of awards it has won. Established operator Globe, and newcomer DITO have both seen their award tallies grow, with Globe overtaking Smart for the first time in the most recent report. Opensignal’s recently published insight on how the market in the Philippines has changed, explores this in more depth.


During 2022 Globe has improved in mobile network experience at the same time it has focused on increased network investment. As a result, Globe has overtaken Smart to become the current most awarded operator in the Philippines. However, there are signs that the improvement is now leveling off, for example in time users spend connected to 4G/5G. With rising mobile traffic levels, and a fiercely competitive market in the Philippines, no operator can afford to be complacent. With both Globe and Smart looking to reduce their spending in the market in 2023 and going forwards, they must ensure that mobile network experience quality does not drop as a result because if it does, they risk increased churn, and their business performance suffering.