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[Comment] Is DiGi Network so Yesterday?

DiGi recently revealed that its plans to be Malaysia’s 1st LTE-equipped network by the end of 2012.

MalaysianWireless would like to note that DiGi is probably the last operator in the country to express interest on LTE. Earlier this year, P1, U Mobile, Maxis & Celcom have already shown interest to deploy LTE. In fact, we believe that U Mobile & P1 both have a LTE-Ready network pending software upgrades(U Mobile confirmed its network is LTE-Ready).

I hope DiGi could make a correction on what it claims.

My Experience using DiGi 3G

Back in May, I expressed my view that DiGi has the worst 3G network in the country. By writing it, I thought DiGi would make a change by improving its 3G network and listen to customer complaints, but I was wrong. Its almost 7 months now since writing that comment and DiGi 3G still remains the same.

In summary, these are the problems with the DiGi 3G network(in my opinion):

  • Frequent drop calls, poor call quality
  • Slow download speeds between 700Kbps-1Mbps
  • Unstable network- 3G data not available/connection reset/frequent switch between 3G&EDGE..etc
  • Poor Coverage nationwide, especially outside KL. Nearly no indoor coverage, even at major shopping malls.
  • VPN does not work
  • DiGi does not resolve or have no interest on complaints related to poor 3G coverage

Maybe this is just me and my experience but consider digging up all the old post in Lowyat.net forum, you will discover lots of disappointing DiGi customers as well. Of course DiGi Broadband is cheap if not the cheapest, but that does not mean that customers get “cheap experience” as well. DiGi claims to own a “Turbo 3G Network” with download speeds up to 14.4Mbps, why can’t customers enjoy a faster speed? All DiGi Broadband competitors such as Maxis, Celcom, P1, U Mobile are giving consumers the option for faster broadband speeds.

Network

I’ve only talked about experience and pricing so far but a good 3G broadband network must have good coverage. DiGi claims to have 5,000 base stations(2G and 3G). In comparison, Maxis & Celcom in a statement told MalaysianWireless that they each have close to 13,000 base stations(2G & 3G combined). Meanwhile U Mobile has about 1,300 3G base station and customers can also roam on close to 7,000 Celcom 2G base station. U Mobile said it is working with Maxis to further expand its 3G base station numbers to 4000 by 2013.

Celcom & DiGi both signed an advance network collaboration sometime in June 2010. The companies now agreed to share some 200 base stations, however an insider told me that there has been less progress on this. I would talk about it in another post.

DiGi has nearly zero 3G coverage in buildings especially in major shopping malls in this country. Based on my experience using both DiGi 3G and U Mobile, I’ve noticed that U Mobile have better indoor coverage compared to DiGi.

While writing this article, I want to believe that DiGi is trying to improve its network by upgrading to LTE, but then LTE is not here yet and this upgrade does not resolve current 3G issues.

To me, LTE is important but DiGi has got to serve 9.6 million customers out there mostly on 3G & EDGE. Both Maxis and Celcom each are spending at least RM1 billion annually to improve their network or expand coverage. In comparison, DiGi is only spending in the millions a year on network expansion. Doesn’t it seems that DiGi is too ambitious for LTE when it already have existing 3G issues not being resolved(for almost 1-2 years).

This brings up to another question. How capable is DiGi in moving to LTE if it can’t afford to build a proper 3G network?

P.s: MalaysianWireless has in the past tried a number of times to get in touch with DiGi, however all efforts have failed. We have yet to give up as we still have hope on DiGi.

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Below are some comments from Readers via MalaysianWireless Facebook:

Alan Teh says 3G speed test in Subang Jaya – usually about 700 kbps, coverage could be better, sometimes drops to Edge. Not the fastest 3G network out there obviously.

Vinod Naidu Munikrishnayya says I think service is not bad… Been on digi last few years.. Data speeds are fine as they promised not 2mbps but 1mbps. Only thing their 3g coverages bit limited. Probably among the ceapest data plan in town too besides umobile.

Chee Yi Ong says 3G speed is so-so, still acceptable but the coverage is terrible. Only in town areas and maybe a bit further outside but Maxis has 3G in Cameron Highlands and highway but Digi doesn’t have coverage. Very inconvenient, but the bills are cheaper and no bill shock.

Izudeen Idrus says
BB Coverage – Only works well in Major town and only selected spots with 3G coverage ( even in town ) mostly will be on Edge; while on 3G the average speed is slighty less than 1Mbps ; now what i expect from a 3G connection

Phone Coverage – Works in almost all town in peninsular; comparable to other telco, however at the small town; the signal bar/strentgh is slow; at rural area the coverage is non-existence (Celcom still have signal)

Ow Yeong Mun Yew says I was very happy when I ported to digi a year ago. Stable data service. Started few months back, their call quality is really bad, I often drop calls and having problem making calls while my iPhone showing at least 3 bars of signal. As for their data, the coverage is really weak, places like 1 utama mall, I can get EDGE only.

Arvin Mogana says switched to DiGi a year back from Maxis. coverage is ok-ok mostly on EDGE and their 3G is not that fast after all. a lot of drop calls in many places. even called and complained to them the hot-spots but no action has been taken so far. being in the telco industry i know how things work around here. just cause their entire network is shifting over to full ZTE for radio doesnt mean you dont have to maintain your current network quality.once my contract is done shifting over to celcom for better coverage and stable network and their pricing is quite cheap if you dont mind paying abit more but at the same time make alot of calls also. Digi goes for the cheapest plan and what not and gives crap quality of service.

Hun Keat Wong says DIGI Speed too slow!! Poor Coverage… But CHEAP!!!

About Kugan

Kugan is the founder of MalaysianWireless. He has been observing the mobile industry since 2003. Connect with him on Twitter: @scamboy