The Philippines’ two dominant operators Globe Telecom and Smart ramped up mobile data speeds over the past few months, but their LTE speed scores fall far short of the global average of 17.4Mb/s, according to a report from OpenSignal.

The average LTE download speed in the country rose to 8.65Mb/s in the period from 1 November 2016 to 31 January 2017 from 7.27Mb/s in Q3, with Smart leading the market with an average download speed of 9.9Mb/s and Globe following at 7.4Mb/s.

While Smart, the mobile unit of PLDT, had the edge in the 4G speed test, Globe was well ahead in LTE availability, with OpenSignal’s testers able to find a Globe LTE signal 55.3 per cent of the time compared with 40 per cent on Smart’s network.

Although LTE access is far from widespread in the Philippines, there is cause for optimism as the Duterte administration has been pushing for faster internet speeds and recently approved a plan to build a national broadband network. In addition, both Smart and Globe have announced aggressive capex plans to expand their LTE footprints and capacity, building thousands of new cell sites and tapping new frequency bands acquired from their joint acquisition of San Miguel Corp’s telecoms assets last May.

Both operators’ 3G download speeds averaged just over 2.1Mb/s in the tests.

Combining 3G and 4G connections and accounting for the availability of each network, OpenSignal calculated the average overall speed for both operators at around 3.3Mb/s. Even though users experienced faster 4G speeds on Smart, Globe’s better 4G availability measurements allowed it to close the gap in overall speed.

The wireless coverage mapping firm analysed more than 500 million measurements from a test sample of nearly 29,000 smartphone users.

Globe reported last week its mobile data traffic grew 44 per cent in 2016 to 361 petabytes as smartphone penetration reached 61 per cent last year.

According to Akamai’s State of the Internet report, the Philippines, despite a 44 per cent jump last year to 4.5Mb/s, had the slowest internet speed (both fixed and wireless) in Asia Pacific. The average global connection speed was 7Mb/s in 2016, a 26 per cent year-on-year increase.