PLDT and its wireless subsidiary Smart Communications, Inc. (Smart) have been cited for being the country’s fastest fixed and mobile networks for Q1-Q2 2018, respectively, by Ookla, the global leader in internet testing and analysis.
Ookla said Smart achieved a Speed Score of 14.98, with average download speeds of 17.25 Mbps and average upload speeds of 7.65 Mbps, based on 2,118,464 user-initiated tests taken with Speedtest on LTE-capable devices in the Philippines for Q1-Q2.
On the other hand, PLDT achieved a Speed Score of 17.31, with average download speeds of 22.84 Mbps and average upload speeds of 23.45 Mbps. The fixed network award is based on 29,076,090 user-initiated Speedtest nationwide for the same period.
Initial data included in Ookla’s country reports showed Smart posting big leads in key cities like Quezon City, Makati and Manila, for example, while PLDT is way ahead in Quezon City, Pasig and Manila.
In Quezon City, for example, Smart posted a Speed Score of 24.09 Mbps, more than twice the speed of the competing network. This reflects the results of the major network upgrade activities that Smart recently undertook in the city, including the activation of LTE-Advanced and carrier aggregation.
For mobile, the Speed Score incorporates a measure of each provider’s download and upload speed to rank network speed performance. Tests used to calculate the Speed Score exclusively come from ‘modern devices’, which are devices capable of connecting to the market’s fastest, generally available technology.
For fixed, Ookla assesses the best network speeds attained across a given network, accounting for tests that are taken on various Speedtest applications that connect to a fixed network, including tests taken on mobile phones over a Wi-Fi connection. Each top carrier accounts for at least 3% of the sample size in the geographic area.
The awards come as PLDT continues to invest historic levels of resources to support network transformation which is estimated to amount to US$ 5 billion from 2016 to 2020, with capital expenditures expected to reach P58 billion this year.
Alongside Smart’s ramped-up Long Term Evolution (LTE) and LTE-Advanced (LTE-A) roll out, PLDT is also aggressively rolling out its fiber broadband service, which also supports the stepped-up deployment of the mobile network by providing high-capacity links for cellular base stations.
“This award is proof that our investments in upgrading our network to improve the mobile internet experience of Filipinos all over the country are paying off,” said Mario G. Tamayo, PLDT and Smart senior vice president for Network Planning and Engineering.
“Improved connectivity has had a direct impact on the Filipino way of life, enhancing the lives of residents and travelers alike, boosting incomes of local businesses, and empowering individuals, organizations and local governments,” Tamayo added.
The results of the analysis by Ookla confirms that PLDT and Smart achieved the fastest overall fixed network speeds and the fastest overall mobile speeds in the Philippines, respectively, during the time period.
“With millions of tests taken using Speedtest every day, Ookla has developed a robust and comprehensive view of worldwide internet performance. It is our pleasure to recognize Smart as the Fastest Mobile Network and PLDT as the Fastest Fixed Network in the Philippines based on our rigorous analysis. This award is a testament to PLDT and Smart’s exceptional performance, as experienced by their own customers, in Q1 and Q2 2018,” said Jamie Steven, Executive Vice President at Ookla.
Ramped-up LTE roll-out
Smart is accelerating its deployment of LTE, LTE-A and carrier aggregation across the country as part of Smart’s efforts to improve mobile data experience nationwide. It is on track toward to fulfill its commitment to the National Telecommunications Commission to cover 90% of the country’s cities and municipalities with mobile data service by the end of this year.
LTE is the best technology to help bring fast, affordable and reliable mobile internet services to as many customers as possible. It is also quickly upgradable to LTE-A, which can provide even greater capacity and speeds to users with capable smartphones.
“On mobile, as shown by the experience of other countries, the network roll-out must be accompanied by the adoption of LTE-Advanced-capable mobile phones and devices,” Tamayo said.
Smart is doubling the number of LTE base stations to about 17,700 nationwide and raising the number of LTE-equipped cell sites to more than 6,800 by the first quarter of 2019, using frequencies that are compatible with CA-capable smartphones available in the market today.
Meanwhile, as of the first quarter of 2018, PLDT has broadened the coverage of its fiber-powered broadband network to 4.4 million homes passed, up from 4.0 million at end-2017. In the same period, PLDT also increased its capacity to 1.4 million lines from about 1.0 million and raised its total fiber footprint to about 187,000 kms.
PLDT’s fiber roll out includes both fiber-to-the-home (FTTH) and hybrid fiber technologies that will deliver fiber-speed broadband to virtually all DSL subscribers by 2019.