Best customer experience in LTE coverage and data speeds; network performance during SEA Games also cited
PLDT wireless subsidiary Smart Communications, Inc. (Smart) has won top marks for providing the best mobile internet service in the country, according to a crowdsourcing-based survey by an international internet testing organization.
Smart was given the “Best in Test award for 2019” and was cited for having the best and widest 4G/LTE coverage, and fastest upload and download speeds, by umlaut, the global internet benchmarking company formerly known as P3.
The Germany-based company also said that Smart provided the best network performance during the country’s hosting of the 30th Southeast Asian Games in December.
These findings were based on an analysis of 474 million samples collected from 474,000 users in both urban and non-urban areas across the country over a six-month period in 2019.
umlaut’s crowdsourced test results follow similar findings by other international third-party internet rating firms such as Ookla and Opensignal which have also released crowdsource-based studies that found Smart’s wireless network to be superior than that of competition.
“Our LTE roll-out is the cutting edge of our efforts to improve the customer experience of our mobile phone service. umlaut’s survey, which is based on an analysis of user experience, provides fresh confirmation that Smart’s LTE service is not only fastest but also provides the most extensive coverage in the country,” said Mario G. Tamayo, Senior Vice President for Network Planning and Engineering for PLDT and Smart.
Hakan Ekmen, CEO of umlaut, said: “Congratulations to PLDT wireless subsidiary Smart Communications for winning the umlaut Mobile Benchmark and being awarded Best-in-Test. Our umlaut Mobile Benchmark is the de-facto industry standard, fairly and transparently assessing the global digital infrastructure.”
Tamayo explained that “the improved performance of Smart’s mobile service is the outcome of several years of sustained investments in our network in order to deliver progressively better quality data and digital services to our customers.”
In 2019, for example, Smart had by the third quarter of the year increased the number of its LTE base stations by 34% compared to end-2018 and deployed these in more areas of the country. Underpinning Smart’s network deployment is the continued expansion of PLDT’s fiber infrastructure, which grew by 26% versus end-2018 to more than 307,000 kilometers nationwide. This extensive fiber infrastructure has been critical in raising Smart's service quality.
SEA Games performance
As the official telecom partner of the 30th SEA Games, Smart deployed Massive MIMO, LTE and LTE-Advanced technologies to ensure superior customer experience, particularly for mobile data, in three main competition venues: Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City, Philippine Arena in Bulacan and New Clark City in Tarlac, umlaut also said.
Outside the main arenas, Smart also achieved superior experience in the three main highways connecting these SEA Games venues—North Luzon Expressway (NLEx), Tarlac-Pangasinan-La Union Expressway (TPLEx) and the Subic-Clark-Tarlac Expressway (SCTEx), according to umlaut tests.
“During the 30th SEA Games, Smart provided the highest data throughput rates in the arenas, as well as the best data throughput performance on the three main connecting roads,” umlaut said in a report posted on its website.
Global benchmarking standard
Covering more than 200 operators in over 120 countries worldwide, umlaut’s network benchmarks are widely accepted as the global de-facto industry standard. Its crowdsourcing technology allows umlaut to collect data about real-world customer experience in a passive way from integrated background diagnosis processes in more than 900 diverse Android apps.
In awarding the Best in Test certificate, umlaut said Smart posted an overall score of 753 out of a maximum of 1,000 points in the annual umlaut benchmarking survey. This score includes Smart’s performance in terms of voice coverage, data coverage, 4G coverage, user download speed, user upload speed and data service availability.
Between 2018 and 2019, Smart also saw its quarterly benchmarking scores more than double year-on-year as customer experience improved across the country, according to umlaut.
“Benchmarking our performance using globally recognized standards gives us a better view of where we are at compared with international operators and motivates us to keep improving our network to be at par with the rest of the world,” Tamayo said.
The sustained improvement of the PLDT-Smart network has been supported by a stepped-up capital expenditures program that includes investments in network and IT systems, including investments in increased LTE coverage and capacity, expanded fiber transport and new international cable networks.