Postpaid plans in Malaysia are getting cheaper with competitive telcos dishing out more data for your money. Apart from cost, another crucial factor to consider is network quality. What’s the point of getting loads of data on the cheap if you can’t use it when you needed it the most?
4G LTE was introduced in Malaysia back in 2013 and currently we have 4 major LTE telcos – Celcom, Digi, Maxis and U Mobile. To find out which network is best, OpenSignal has just published a State of Mobile Networks report specifically for Malaysia. The findings were derived from a data sample size of close to 40 million that were contributed by 21,109 OpenSignal app users in Malaysia between 1 December 2015 to 29 February 2016.
According to OpenSignal, Maxis gets their top pick for having the best 4G coverage and best speed in Malaysia. From their report over a 3 month period, Maxis users are connected to 4G LTE 70% of the time. Since Maxis customers are having 4G more frequently, this also brings up the overall network speed to first place with an average of 5.20Mbps. For 4G specifically, Maxis delivers an average speed of 13Mbps.
Out of the 4 telcos, Celcom is ranked the worst due to lower network speeds and higher latency on both 3G and 4G. They noted that Celcom’s performance was better around the Klang Valley area. When compared to the global average, Malaysia’s 4G LTE speed is quite close to the standard average of 13.5Mbps.
To measure 4G coverage, OpenSignal uses the time coverage methodology which calculates the proportion of time a user is connected on 4G. This gives a better measurement especially when you could be getting just 3G indoors while being in a 4G covered area.
As seen on the chart above, Maxis leads at first place at 69.98% followed by Digi at 57.60%. Celcom takes third place at 52.94%, while U Mobile is last at 44.23%. U Mobile obviously takes a beating here as it relies on Maxis for 2G/3G coverage where their network is not available.
When looking at speed, U Mobile is the fastest in both 3G and 4G specifically. However, it takes 2nd place overall as most of it users are connected to 3G most of the time. Despite that, it is worth noting that U Mobile is faster overall than Digi and Celcom which has more 4G LTE sites in comparison. Celcom, unfortunately, ranks the slowest among the four in any given scenario.
Maxis and U Mobile are the top picks for 3G with a latency of less than 105ms. Meanwhile for 4G, Digi, Maxis and U Mobile have a 3-way draw with less than 56ms. The lower the latency indicates a more responsive network and unfortunately, Celcom trails behind for both 3G and 4G segments.
To conclude, OpenSignal’s latest report ranks Maxis as the better network for overall 4G LTE availability, speeds and latency. This is contrary to what we’ve seen on their website earlier on.
For this year, we can expect our telcos to push for more 4G coverage aggressively particularly Maxis and Digi. Both telcos will be refarming their 2G 1800MHz spectrum for 4G use. On top of that, both are also pushing for more LTE-A sites which provide even faster speeds with carrier aggregation.
If OpenSignal’s report is an accurate indicator, Celcom has a lot of room to improve. With its value-for-money FIRST postpaid plans, the blue telco has the pulling power to draw other subscribers to their fold. To expand and to upgrade a 4G network is a costly affair. There are concerns whether affordable plans with loads of data can sustain telcos in the long run. If you haven’t seen it yet, you can check out our postpaid comparison post.
For further reading, you can check out the full OpenSignal report.