Mobile internet service improves amid pandemic

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    Mobile internet service in the Philippines has improved over the last two years but remains at a “fair” level, according to Opensignal’s latest report.

    Opensignal said the country’s video experience has increased by 10.6 points from 35.8 points in the third quarter of 2018 to 46.4 points in the first quarter of 2020, but it went down to 43.5 points last May during the lockdown.

    Between third quarter of 2018 and first quarter of 2020, Globe Telecom Inc.’s video experience score rose from 29.2 points to 40.9 points, while that of Smart Communications Inc. increased from 42.4 points to 53.5 points.

    “One measure that is becoming increasingly important given the rise of YouTube and video-heavy social media services is Video Experience; it quantifies the quality of video streamed to mobile devices by measuring real-world video streams over an operator’s networks,” Opensignal said.

    Another factor that has important implications for users is latency, which represents the typical delay a user experiences when connecting across an operator’s networks in milliseconds (ms). Hence, the lower the score, the better.

    Latency experience in the Philippines also improved from 75.4 ms in the third quarter of
    2018 to 60.6 ms in May 2020.

    Globe users saw their average latency improve by 15.8 ms between the third quarter of 2018 and first quarter of 2020. Smart’s network saw a more modest improvement over the same period of 12.7 ms.

    However, during the periods that were fully influenced by the coronavirus pandemic, Smart’s latency experience score continued to improve while Globe’s started to rise.

    According to Opensignal, average user experience while streaming video has been “fair” (40-55) since the third quarter of 2019, up from the “poor” rating observed in the previous four quarters.

    It said video experience has remained “fair” despite the impact of the pandemic.

    “This indicates that operators’ efforts to ensure their networks would still support video streaming services despite the changes in usage patterns brought were successful,” Opensignal said.

    PLDT Inc. and Smart have sustained investments in their networks which have totaled some P260 billion from 2015 to 2019. Amid the regained momentum of its network rollout efforts following the easing of lockdown restrictions, PLDT has leveled up its target capital expenditures for 2020 back up to P70 billion or more.

    Meanwhile, Globe has secured more than 700 permits to build more cell towers nationwide to spur its bid to improve voice and data experience of its customers.

    “These permits complement our aggressive builds and rollouts as we not only increase our capacity and capability but more importantly, we make connectivity possible and accessible in areas that don’t have any access to the internet before,” said Joel Agustin, Globe senior vice president for program delivery, Network Technical Group.