Let me put this straight – Smart sponsored our trip to Davao City 2 weeks ago for us to test their LTE speeds. Smart claims that they’ve got the fastest LTE compared to their competitor, but I went there to confirm more than just that. What made it easy for Smart to improve their LTE? Do Davaoenos really need it? Are there spots that need to be improved? Is this really all about “winning” the competition on whose LTE internet speeds is faster?
Let’s cut the chase – Smart LTE in Davao is faster than Metro Manila’s. A Davaoeno using Smart gets an average of 5.13Mbps download speed and 2.93Mbps upload speed. The latter data show the relative performance of Smart within current view of Open Signal’s map. Just in case you’re not familiar, download speed is a good indicator on how reliable it is for web browsing and streaming video. During these activities, data is downloaded from the server used by the content creator so consumers or internet users can browse the website and watch their favorite video. Upload speed, on the other hand, is an indicator of how fast your internet is when posting your photos on Facebook or posting your Boomerang videos on Instagram.
A reminder though: MB (megabyte) is different from Mb (megabit). One glaring misconceptions of consumers is that both metrics are the same. MB pertains to file size, while Mb is used for download speeds. If you have a download speed of 5Mbps, you should only expect that you will be able to download 625kb of file in a second. 1Mbps = 0.125 MB/s. This means that when you have 100Mbps, do not assume that you can download 100 MB of file in a second. (Here’s a link to Google’s Digital Storage calculator for your reference.)
If you compare the performance of Smart over Globe’s, the former speed is relatively faster on our record. Reggie Ramos of DRonthego.net has more comprehensive comparisons on his website.
It could still get better
There is one thing that I wish to point out here: the average speed is still way lower than the expected LTE speeds. You have to understand that the peak download and upload speeds of LTE are 100Mbps and 50Mbps respectively. On average, Davaoenos aren’t getting these speeds, but we expect the values to get higher in the weeks to come. We hope that this article would serve as a reminder to Smart and even to Globe to keep on improving the internet speed not just in Davao, but in the Philippines.
Because we deserve this
This isn’t just simply a stroke of luck to Davaoenos. Yes – Duterte, being the Philippines’ President – is a big factor in the decision to put Davao as a priority. There is actually a more sensible reason compared to some people’s “nagpapa-sipsip ang telcos” remark: the LGUs in Davao are more cooperative because they support the Government’s mandate to improve the country’s internet speeds. Davao LGUs try to lessen the red tape because such significantly affects continuous upgrade.
In an article by CNN, DICT Secretary Rodolfo Salalima said that “a key move was to lessen the red tape required to build cell sites across the country”. He also added that they drafted an executive order that will cut the permit issuance to put up cell sites from three to seven days.
Davao is among the metro cities to comply with this mandate.
Metro Manila and Davao have always been the focus cities of Smart in terms of deploying internet technologies. Last August 2013, long before Duterte announced and became the President of the Philippines, Smart brought LTE-A to Metro Manila and Davao for a test run. 3 years later, Smart completed the deployment of LTE-A in Davao and Boracay. Metro Cebu, Metro Manila and Rizal are next on the list, and should be completed within the three-year network improvement program of Smart. In fact, part of the plan is to continuously deploy and use more sites with 700MHz frequency, which was acquired by PLDT Group and Globe last 2016.
But Why Davao?
Why not? Davao is a metro city with over 1.5 Million population. If we loosely use the rate of internet users in the Philippines (37%), we are talking about more than 500,000 connected Davaoenos.
Let me bring you closer to my heart: Davao is top 3 metro city on Gadget Pilipinas website’s generated sessions in the last 5 years. The same goes for our Facebook page.
Davao is also a hotbed of content creators – bloggers and vloggers. In fact, according to Davao Bloggers Society Founding President, Ria Jose of Diyosaislife.com, there are over 200 bloggers in Davao. The number of content creators also speak about the demand for information by consumers and internet users in the city. In this regard, internet is a great factor on both content creator and consumer sides.
A clamor for more reliability and reach
The internet in Davao is crazy fast; I must say that Smart did a great job on paving the way to having fast LTE in the city. Their competitor is catching up, and that is essentially a good thing. We all deserve a better internet – not just in 2-3 cities but everywhere. We have to understand though that we need to give chance to the government and the telcos to improve and upgrade their services. At the end of the day, this isn’t about whose internet is faster; it is who it is for.
Giancarlo Viterbo is a Filipino Technology Journalist, blogger and Editor of gadgetpilipinas.net, He is also a Geek, Dad and a Husband. He knows a lot about washing the dishes, doing some errands and following instructions from his boss on his day job. Follow him on twitter: @gianviterbo and @gadgetpilipinas.