Philippines 4G Download Speeds twice as fast in the capital at congested times

Francesco Rizzato, Senior Technical Analyst

Opensignal analyzed the fluctuations in 4G Download Speeds that our users in the Philippines experienced throughout the day across different regions. We found that, while all users experienced similar speeds at quiet times at night, bigger differences between regions emerged during the day when networks became busy, with our users in Metropolitan Manila — the National Capital Region (NCR) — experiencing significantly faster speeds at congested times.

Philippines 4G Download Speed fluctuations throughout the day, by region

In our recent 5G Opportunity report, we analyzed the wide fluctuations in 4G Download Speeds experienced throughout the day on networks in 77 countries around the world. The Philippines showed particularly large variations, with speeds 2.8 times as fast when experienced at the fastest hour of the day — though the results were in line with other countries in Southeast Asia, such as Malaysia (2.3 times) and Indonesia (3.2 times).

All five regions in the Philippines showed a similar trend but to a varying extent. The 4G Download Speeds users enjoyed were at the fastest across all regions between 3 a.m. and 5 a.m., fell significantly in the morning, then continued to gradually decrease across the rest of the day — reaching the slowest speeds in the evening — before finally jumping back up in the middle of the night. NCR showed the least speed fluctuation of 12 Mbps between fastest and slowest 4G Download Speeds within a day, while our users in North and Central Luzon experienced the greatest range with a difference of 15.7 Mbps between quiet and busy times.

Philippines 4G Download Speed across the day, by region

At night, when most people are asleep and fewer devices connect to mobile networks, we see that speeds experienced by our users across regions reached 17 Mbps or more in 4G Download Speed, with no single region shining above the others. This suggests that networks in all regions are capable of delivering a faster experience to our users when there are fewer people using the network and so there is less stress.

However, starting from 6 a.m. — as people wake up and more devices access 4G networks — we observed that our users’ experience took two divergent paths. Our NCR users experienced significantly faster 4G Download Speeds than in all other regions, with speeds stabilizing around 14 Mbps during the middle of the day, before dropping to 10.4 Mbps in the evening — when mobile networks are most congested. Users’ experience in all other regions followed a similar pattern, though our users in the rest of Luzon saw their speeds stabilizing around 9 Mbps during the middle of the day before the evening slowdown to just below 6 Mbps, while our users in Visayas and Mindanao had a significantly slower 4G Download Speed experience, falling below 5 Mbps in the evening.

At the slowest time, between 8 p.m. and 10 p.m., our NCR users’ experience on average was more than 4 Mbps faster than in all other regions, and twice as fast as what our users experienced in Visayas and Mindanao.

By analyzing the average speeds operators provide at the busiest times of day, we can understand the experience users will have when they most want to use mobile data.

Opensignal’s data shows that users enjoy similar 4G Download Speeds across all the Philippines’ regions when few people access 4G networks, but they experience more variation in speeds as more and more people connect to mobile data services during the day and in the evening.

Although mobile networks in the capital appear to cope better with heavy usage at busy times, we see that congestion is a nationwide challenge. The massive variation in users’ mobile network experience across the day could ultimately place severe restrictions on the type of applications and services consumers can access and damage users’ perceptions because they will experience great mobile speeds at some times of day but not at others. Mobile operators should try and improve their users’ experience at busy times of day when many users are transmitting data and in some areas creating congestion. The deployment of 5G networks and additional spectrum will provide much needed capacity, and in turn enable users to experience faster speeds at busy times.