4G in Malaysia: What You Should Know

September 21 | by

topics: 4G, Broadband, General Info, Telecom

4G in Malaysia

4G is the name commonly used for the 4th Generation mobile network, and it represents a faster mobile network service than 3G, which is the 3rd Generation mobile network.

Each telecom company uses the ‘4G’ term loosely, and none of them meet the original International Telecommunication Union’s (ITU) official standard, which defines this technology at a speed much faster than is currently offered. (Note: ITU is an agency of the United Nations, which sets telecommunication standards for the world.). However, ITU decided to accept a wider definition of 4G in 2010, so that LTE, HSPA+ (High Speed Package Access) and WiMAX could be associated with 4G terminology.

Another point you should know about 4G is that it requires different frequencies than 3G to transmit data, so your mobile device needs to be compatible. For example, the iPhone models before the iPhone 5 will not work on 4G LTE networks.  Keep this in mind when selecting a 4G package in Malaysia.

There are several telecom companies offering 4G services in Malaysia. Below we’ve outlined three types of 4G technologies and the telcos in Malaysia offering 4G services.

A Quick Look at Three Types of 4G Technologies

Here is a quick look at three 4G technologies in Malaysia:

  • HSPA+ (evolved HSPA) has a theoretical peak download rate of 168 Mbps and is technically classified as 3.75G, the step right before 4G.  However, this rate is unlikely to be achieved, and the LTE (see #3) typical stands to offer a higher speed in practice. U Mobiles offers HSPA+ services, but the company doesn’t directly associate itself with 4G services.
  • WiMAX has a theoretical peak download rate of 128 Mbps and is offered by the Malaysian telcos YES and P1.
  • LTE is all the hype right now, with a a theoretical peak download rate of 100 Mbps (By the way, 4G LTE is technically 3GPP LTE). While its theoretical speed is lower than the above, in practice, 4G LTE is actually faster.  The 4G LTE is similar in speed to some fiber to the home broadband plans in Malaysia.  The ‘True 4G’ that actually meets the standards is now known as LTE Advanced, with a peak download speed of 1 Gb/s (that’s about 10 times more than the current LTE). Maxis, DiGi, and Celcom are offering 4G LTE services in Malaysia. For more info, you can read our post about 4G LTE in Malaysia here.

4G LTE officially launched in Malaysia earlier this year (2013) with limited coverage and support.  Maxis launched the 4G LTE service in Malaysia first, offering speeds up to 75 Mbps, followed by Celcom, and then DiGi. Recently, TM (Telekom Malaysia) has announced its step towards being a 4G LTe provider in the near future.

SEE ALSO: Why Your Broadband Speed Isn’t As Fast As You Think:  MB vs Mb

Malaysian Telcos Offering 4G:

 
Maxis
Celcom
DiGi
YES
P1
Advertised Speed:Up to 75 Mbps (avg: 10Mbps to 30Mbps)Up to 42 MbpsUp to 30 MbpsUp to 20 MbpsUp to 4 Mbps
Devices:iPhone 5, SGS4, BB Q5, Q10, HTC One, One XL, Nokia Lumia 920, iPadsiPhone 5, Samsung Galaxy Mega, SGS4, BB Q10, Z10, Xperia Tablet ZCurrently only broadband and tabletsEclipse 4G, Samsung Buzz, various donglesBroadband & dongles
Coverage:Klang Valley, Penang, Johor, Kota Kinabalu, Kuching
Selangor, KL, Penang, Perak, Kedah, Johor, MelakaOnly selected areas within KL Major Cities and highwaysOnly selected areas within KL
Postpaid Price:From RM50 / monthFrom RM78 / monthFrom RM15 / monthFrom RM49 / monthFrom RM39 / month

Each telco provider has different plans, pricing and devices. In terms of speed, Maxis 4G LTE wins hands down. DiGi 4G LTE is the cheapest option but it’s only valid for broadband and tablets (at the time of this writing).

Takeaway

If you use your smartphone for casual internet surfing or general emailing only, then you can hold off on upgrading to a 4G network until 4G become more common with lower monthly costs, stable speeds and a wider coverage.  If you’re keen to get the fastest wireless internet connection, then seek a plan that offers 4G LTE with coverage in your area.

Frequent travellers may use smartphones as a complementary device, relying on a laptop for productivity. In these instances, you may prefer a 4G plan with a portable modem. You can read our take on portable Wi-Fi devices in Malaysia in this related post.

SEE ALSO:

Photo credit: kiwanja / Foter / CC BY

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