Internet speeds improve as telcos continue to invest on network improvements

Between 2017 and 2020, internet speeds in the Philippines increased as Philippine telcos continued to invest dramatically in their networks, including leading integrated telco PLDT and its wireless arm Smart Communications, Inc. (Smart).

Average mobile speeds have increased by 62 percent and fixed broadband speeds have increased by 86 percent between 2017 and 2020, based on the results of more than 120 million tests taken in the Philippines with Speedtest in 2020.

In the Philippines, fixed broadband average download speeds grew from 14.36 Mbps to 26.69 Mbps between 2017 and 2020, an 86 percent rise, while mobile broadband average download speeds rose by 62 percent over the same period, from 9.68 Mbps to 15.72 Mbps.

Complying with the government’s call to elevate the country’s telecommunications industry and delivery of world-class services, PLDT recently announced that it was prepared to invest between P88 billion and P92 billion this year to meet the requirements of its mobile and fixed-line customers.

“Providing good customer experience remains to be our ‘North Star’, as we aim to elevate PLDT and Smart to the level of global operators,” said Alfredo S. Panlilio, Smart Communications President and CEO and PLDT Chief Revenue Officer.

As of 2020, the average fixed broadband download speed of PLDT was 32.20 Mbps, while the average mobile download speed of Smart was 17.82 Mbps—reporting 78 percent and 71 percent increases, respectively, compared to 2017, based on Ookla’s review of tests taken with Speedtest.

PLDT and Smart have further extended the scope and capability of their fixed and mobile networks to meet the increased data needs of the ‘new standard’ in the face of pandemic-related challenges.

PLDT’s fiber infrastructure, the most extensive in the world, consisted of over 429,000 kilometers as of December 2020. Smart’s mobile networks, which now cover 96 percent of the population and are accessible in 95 percent of the country’s cities and municipalities, support this fiber infrastructure. At the end of 2020, Smart boosted the number of its base stations to over 59,000 and also rolled out additional 5G sites as it accelerates its 5G commercial services nationwide.

Aided by the Anti-Red Tape Authority’s issuance of its Joint Memorandum Circular in August, PLDT and Smart also secured a record number of permits in the second half of 2020. Since July, Smart has secured over 2,500 permits to build more cell sites and fast track the telco’s goal to improve customer experience across the country.

To date, Smart has over 10,000 sites across the country, including more than 700 new cell sites fired up in 2020 despite mobility restrictions and supply chain challenges due to COVID-19. These enabled Smart to increase its LTE population coverage, cover more municipalities and provide more capacity for dense areas. Smart is planning to roll out an additional 2,000 cell sites in 2021.

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