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The mobile experience in the Philippines has improved under Marcos but still lags behind many of its regional peers

It has now been nearly 15 months since Bongbong Marcos was inaugurated as the 20th president of the Philippines. While our Filipino users have seen impressive improvements across many aspects of the mobile experience between the 90 days before Marcos’ inauguration and the 90 days ending 29 August 2023 — this has had little impact on how the Philippines compares to other major markets in South-East Asia.

Despite our Filipino users observing an increase of 5.9Mbps (37.7%) in their average overall download speeds, the Philippines has gone from third place to fourth, as it has been overtaken by Malaysia — which has achieved an impressive burst of speed. Malaysia’s Download Speed Experience score rose by 17.7Mbps (122.6%), putting it in second place and behind Singapore. Cambodian users saw the second largest percentage increase in their average download speeds (46.1%), followed by Singapore (41%) and Indonesia (40.6%).

On the other hand, the gap in speed between the Philippines and Vietnam has shrunk by a factor of three as our Vietnamese users reported a decline of 0.7Mbps, while the Philippines' score rose by 5.9Mbps. As a result, Vietnam now leads the Philippines by 3.3Mbps instead of the 9.9Mbps seen in the run-up to the Marcos inauguration.

Singapore remains firmly in the lead with overall average download speeds that are more than twice as fast as Malaysia's, which is now in second place with 32.2Mbps. Vietnam has been pushed to third place with a speed of 24.9Mbps, while Cambodia remains in last place with 18Mbps, which is an improvement from its previous score of 12.3Mbps.

Both Cambodia and Vietnam have yet to launch 5G commercially, though Vietnamese operators have been trialing the technology. The same cannot be said of the Philippines as both Globe and Smart have been providing their users with mobile 5G services for years and new entrant DITO has a live service in some regions.

Although the Philippines observed the third-highest percentage increase in average overall upload speeds — 1.3Mbps (36.1%), it remains in last place for Upload Speed Experience. One consolation is that it is gaining on its closest rival, Cambodia — as the gap between them has halved, falling from 1.6Mbps to 0.8Mbps. The largest improvement was seen by our Malaysian users — an increase of 46% (2.8Mbps), followed by Indonesia with a rise of 37.5% (2.5Mbps).

While Singapore remains in first place with 13.2Mbps (up from 12.3Mbps), Indonesia has moved up into second place with its score of 9.3Mbps (up from 6.7Mbps). It replaces Vietnam which now shares third place with Malaysia. Thailand has dropped from third place to fifth as our Thai users’ average overall upload speeds now come in at 8.2Mbps — up from 7.3Mbps.  

Our users in the Philippines observed the largest improvement in their experience when playing multiplayer mobile games over cellular connections (Games Experience) across the markets analyzed. The Philippines’ score has risen by 13.6 points (28.8%), well ahead of Indonesia, Cambodia and Thailand which saw increases of 11.6 (18.4%), 7.3 (16.3%) and 7.8 points (12%), respectively. Vietnam is an outlier, with a decline of 8.1 points (11.6%).

Despite the impressive increase seen in the Philippines, it remains in second-to-last place for Games Experience, though it is now statistically tied with Vietnam — which has fallen a long way, having placed second in the run-up to the Marcos inauguration. Indonesia, Thailand and Malaysia have all sling-shotted past Vietnam, with Indonesia now in second place with 74.6 points — but quite far behind first-placed Singapore’s 81.9 points.


On the other hand, the Philippines is no longer last-placed in the region for Availability — the proportion of time that our users spend with a 3G or better connection. Now, Vietnam and Cambodia come last with statistically tied scores of 93.3-94.1%, while the Philippines is just ahead with 95.3%. Indonesia, like the Philippines, has pushed past Vietnam, while Singapore now shares first place with Thailand with statistically tied scores of 99.2-99.3%. Our users in the Philippines saw the second largest increase — a rise of one percentage point — while those in Malaysia saw the largest increase — 1.4 percentage points. There was no statistically significant change in Singapore’s score, while our users in Cambodia and Vietnam observed declines of 1.1 and 1.6 percentage points respectively.

Good mobile connectivity is of increasing importance to the Marcos administration as the government has recently launched the eGov PH Super App, which is digitizing and streamlining national and local government services. In July 2023, it streamlined the permitting process for telecoms infrastructure, a move that has been welcomed by the country’s mobile operators. In a speech at the Telco Summit in late 2022, President Marcos said that addressing the country’s low connectivity rate is a priority and stressed the need to be at least at the same level of digitization as its neighbors. As digitization and mobile experience go hand-in-hand — the Philippines needs to be competitive with other countries in the region on mobile connectivity.

However, in our previous analyses, we’ve highlighted that much of the Philippines’ forward momentum has been driven by the country’s operators’ high capital expenditure — which they have started to rein in. The Marcos Administration will therefore need to incentivize operators to continue investing significantly in their networks if the President’s digitization goals are to become a reality.