PH internet speed continues to improve

Published February 2, 2021, 3:58 AM

by Edgard Hilario

The country’s internet continues to improve based on a January report by Ookla, the global leader in mobile and broadband network intelligence, testing applications and technology.     

For fixed broadband, the latest report reflected the country’s average download speed at 32.73Mbps, a 313.78% increase from its download speed of 7.91Mbps back in July 2016.      Meanwhile, mobile network overall performance yielded an average download speed of 25.77Mbps showing an increase of 246.37% from its speed of 7.44Mbps back in July 2016.    

Compared to December 2020 speed test results, January 2021 average download speed for fixed broadband increased by 4.10% from 31.44Mbps, while mobile climbed by 14.53% from 22.50Mbps.

The improvement in the country’s internet speed comes after the President’s directive last July 2020 on the need to expedite the facilitation of LGU permits in relation to building cellular towers. Since then, there has been a significant increase in the issuance of permits from July to December 2020 vis-à-vis the average monthly numbers of permits issued in 2019.         

The National Telecommunications Commission reported that in 2019, a monthly average of 63 permits were issued for Globe and a monthly average of 50 for Smart. However, the average monthly number of permits issued on July to December 2020 rose by 552.65% (348 permits) for Globe and 194.33% (97 permits) for Smart.      

The fast-tracking of the issuance of permits resulted in an increase in building cellular towers. From July to December 2020, a total of 2,939 additional towers/physical sites were built.     The country has a total of 22,834 cellular tower/sites to date with Globe having 10,395, Smart and DITO having 10,079 and 2,360 respectively.     

Telcos also continue to invest heavily on their fiber optic network with a total of 543,740 cable-kilometers already laid out all over the country to date.  Smart/PLDT currently has the widest network with 429,270 cable-kilometers of fiber optic built. Globe has laid-out 67,414 cable-kilometers, Converge with 33,000 and DITO with 14,056.     

In 2020 alone, a total of 144,551 cable-kilometers of fiber optic were rolled-out with Smart/PLDT adding 106,914 cable-kilometers, Globe with 13,414, Converge with 10,167 and DITO with 14,056 cable-kilometers more.    

The NTC is set to meet with Globe and Smart this month in its first bi-monthly meeting with the DICT to help ensure that the telcos’ plans for expansion and improvement in 2021 are completed in time.    

In the meeting, telcos are expected to brief the NTC on the status of their network roll-outs and current problems encountered.  The NTC aims to determine how government can help address said issues, particularly “red tape” challenges.  

The NTC said that it shall push for front-loaded implementation of telcos’ roll-out plans, particularly for the first two (2) quarters of 2021. 

The bi-monthly meetings will allow the NTC to closely monitor telcos’ progress in helping the country improve its internet speed resulting to better global rankings in Ookla’s Speedtest Global Index.  

Telcos’ performance are being closely monitored after President Duterte agreed that improvements in telco services need to be maintained and the country’s internet speed be eventually at par with the country’s Southeast Asian neighbors.