'No more duopoly' with DITO Telecommunity presence — Ookla

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, July 3) — The Philippines is seeing more investments poured into network buildups following the entry of China-backed DITO Telecommunity in March 2021, toughening up the game in addressing Filipinos' connectivity demand, according to a report by internet analytics firm Ookla.

While Ookla noted that DITO Telecommunity failed to come on strong in its first year of commercial operations attracting only 7 million subscribers, the company still triggered an improvement in the overall market performance.

"Our analysis suggests that DITO’s entry combined with regulatory changes, resulted in more network investment and an overall improvement in 4G coverage and performance across all operators," Ookla said in its report titled "The Philippines is a duopoly no more."

Dominant players PLDT and Globe Telecom have been allotting record-high capital expenditures to further beef up their infrastructure.

DITO, for this year, intends to cough up ₱50 billion to support its aggressive network expansion. By the fifth year of its operations, the group needs to cover 84% of the population and deliver 55 megabits per second (Mbps) of mobile internet speed.

With billions of pesos flowing in the sector, Ookla said Filipinos are experiencing better telco services.

Ookla said the Philippines was "catching up" on 4G in the first quarter, coming with a 15.53 Mbps median download speed and a 5.14 Mbps median upload speed.

PLDT's wireless arm Smart Communications continued to lead the 4G download speed in the period, posting an 18.51 Mbps average download speed

Among the three major players, Ookla found that DITO Telecommunity realized dominance in the 4G availability segment.

The Philippines' 5G network also gained progress over the past year, with its 5G availability — the proportion of users on 5G-capable devices who spend a majority of their time on the network — standing at 18.1% in the first quarter against last year's 9.4%.

The telcos have vowed to ramp up their investments in their 5G networks.

Given these developments, Ookla said consumers' attitudes toward mobile operators have also improved.