PH among countries with most improved in Video Experience, says Opensignal

With most Filipinos staying at home during the community quarantine amid COVID-19, veteran chef Rose Marie Lim of Cebu’s Caro and Marie, one of the country’s longest-running baking and culinary schools, turned to video to stay connected with cooking and baking aficionados both here and abroad.

Through a cooking and baking video series on Facebook, Chef Rose has been able to share Filipino recipes not just with Filipinos outside Cebu, but with a worldwide audience.

“You don’t have to be a master chef to prepare simple dishes for your family and friends. And if you’ve never cooked or baked since birth, now is the time to try it! Just watch my videos!” she said.

Chef Rose is among the growing number of Filipinos using mobile video, a trend that has been made possible by the country’s progressively improving mobile data services.  According to independent mobile analytics firm Opensignal, the Philippines is among the countries that have experienced a significant improvement in video experience. 

In its latest study, “The State of Mobile Network Experience in 2020: One year into the 5G Era1, Opensignal says the Philippines’ Video Experience score improved by 32% compared to 2019, ranking fourth worldwide in terms of percentage improvement next to Thailand, Nepal and Senegal.

Video Experience measures the average video experience of Opensignal users on 3G and 4G networks. It involves measuring real-world video streams, and takes picture quality, video loading time and stall rate into account. The study featured measurements from more than 43 million devices collected from Jan. 1 to March 30 in 2019 and 2020.

The country’s mobile video experience has been improving in recent years as operators continue to roll out LTE nationwide. PLDT wireless subsidiary Smart Communications, Inc. (Smart) has set the pace for this trend by consistently posting the best mobile video experience in the Philippines since Opensignal launched the metric in 2019.

In Opensignal’s latest Philippines Mobile Network Experience Report2 released in April, which covered the period Nov. 1, 2019 to Jan. 29, 2020, Smart also surpassed competition in most metrics, including Video Experience, where Smart posted a score of 55, well ahead of competition’s 39.8.

Significant investments

With the help of its parent firm PLDT, Smart has improved its video service by pouring significant resources into improving their network, particularly its LTE roll out, to provide the best user experience to their subscribers.

As of end-March, Smart increased the number of 4G/LTE base stations to 26,000, up 6% from end-2019 and 60% more than end-2018. PLDT’s fiber infrastructure, which supports Smart’s network by providing high-capacity links to LTE base stations, is now at 338,500 kilometers nationwide, 5% more than end-2019 and up nearly 40% from end-2018.

 In April, Smart further increased the capacity of its LTE network by reallocating its assigned 1800 Mhz frequency from 2G to 4G/LTE. As a result, 3,785 base stations of Smart have also been providing additional capacity for its LTE network.

“Our continuous investments in our network and our ongoing upgrades and expansion projects across the country have allowed us to provide our customers with the best mobile data experience,” said Mario G. Tamayo, PLDT-Smart Senior Vice President for Network Planning and Engineering.

Better resiliency

These network investments have also made Smart’s mobile video service more resilient in handling the sharp rise in data traffic during the lockdown due to the COVID pandemic.

In May, Opensignal published an analysis3 of the resilience of mobile networks in the Philippines amid the COVID-19 emergency and community quarantine. 

“As operators in the Philippines reported a dramatic surge in data consumption, we found that the quality of the video streaming experience over 4G connections was resilient,” Opensignal’s Hardik Khatri wrote. The study covered the period Sept. 1, 2019 to March 31, 2020 and examined the mobile experience in urban and rural areas in the National Capital Region, North and Central Luzon, South Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao.

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