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MCMC testing 4G LTE-Advanced at 1Mbps – Network Performance Report 2018

As fixed broadband service in the country are being upgraded to a minimum 100Mbps fibre speeds, the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) is testing 4G LTE-Advanced at the speed of at least 1Mbps (megabit per second), 80% of the time. This was revealed as part of its Network Performance Report (NPR) 2018 report.

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Its been more than 5 years since the first 4G LTE network was commercially launched in this country and mobile operators are promoting super fast high speed Internet services to its customers.

4G LTE-Advanced, also known as LTE-A is an “upgrade” to 4G LTE networks. One of the major features of LTE-Advanced and LTE-A Pro is Carrier Aggregation (CA), which allows mobile network operators to combine a number of separate LTE carriers to offer faster speeds, possibly up to 1Gbps.

Digi is promising Internet speeds of at least 10Mbps for 4G LTE and 20Mbps for 4G LTE-A, 80% of the time while Maxis is saying that customers would enjoy 4G LTE speeds between 7-15 Mbps. In our own test at MalaysianWireless, we generally managed to get over 10Mbps most of the time on the 4G LTE networks of Celcom Axiata and Maxis in KL/Selangor. Celcom has promised for speeds over 400Mbps (but we have never experienced it in real life). Our recent test on U Mobile’s new network outside KL (will be published soon) also resulted in speeds over 10Mbps most of the time.

As MCMC sets 1Mbps as the benchmark speed for 4G LTE-Advanced, the team at MalaysianWireless observed a huge number of complaints on the Facebook pages of Malaysia Telcos over the past year. Those complaints include slow 4G LTE-A speeds (some even slower than 1Mbps), poor 4G LTE indoor and outdoor coverage, among the issues.

The MCMC Network Performance Report (NPR) 2018 report is based on a total of 21,650 call samples, 518 wireless broadband locations for each of the six operators and 200 fixed broadband locations for three operators nationwide were measured. Network data audited was collected by MCMC on a nationwide scale from January to December 2018, it said.

At the time of writing, MCMC has yet to published the full Network Performance Report (NPR) 2018 report on its website.

Full media statement by MCMC below:

CYBERJAYA, 29 January 2019 — The Network Performance Report (NPR) is a yearly document published by the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) that looks at network performance of Malaysia’s mobile broadband, wired broadband and voice services.

This report provides consumers with useful information on the performance of the services with the aim of improving quality of service, as it is an integral component in the government’s effort to enhance the consumer experience.

This audited report is on the network performance of services in the year 2018. Results are benchmarked against standards that have been set by MCMC via MSQoS in the respective categories.

Overall, the NPR 2018 report revealed that, most service providers managed to adhere and comply with the standards set by the Commission under the MSQoS.

Several key metrics or parameters were used to measure the performance of the services offered by the respective service providers. This includes Throughput, Network Latency, Packet Loss, Call Setup Success Rate (CSSR) and Dropped Call Rate (DCR).

Throughput refers to an amount of data that can be transferred per unit of time across a network from one location to another, experienced by end user as Internet speed. This means the higher throughput, the better the Internet speeds are. As for Network Latency, it refers to the Return Trip Time (RTT) of data transfers on a network and how long it takes the data to travel to its destination. In other words, the lower the latency the better. Meanwhile, Packet Loss is an amount data sent which are unable to reach its intended destination. In this context, low packet loss indicates the network’s ability to transfer data from the user end to the destination host with high reliability. Call Setup Success Rate (CSSR) refers to voice calls made by user and successfully established, allowing communication. High CSSR indicates good network accessibility. While, Dropped Call Rate or DCR refers to voice calls made by user and successfully established but was cut-off before the speaking parties able to complete the intended call or before any one of them hang up. In short, low DCR indicates good network retainability.

A series of tests were conducted to ensure the services offered met the requirements. For example, for wireless broadband services, tests were carried out ‘static’ (stationary) using LTE capable smartphones that supports carrier aggregation, at locations identified to at least have LTEA (LTE-Advanced) broadband service coverage. The requirements needed is to have at least 1Mbps (megabit per second) throughput for at least 80% of the time, network latency mustn’t be more than 250ms packet round trip time (RTT) at least 70% for the time and packet loss not more than 3%.

The ability of the wireless service providers to comply were due to its aggressive pursuit in rolling out LTE and LTE-A networks besides taking advantage of the frequency re-farming exercise conducted back in 2017.

While for the wired broadband, tests were carried out in locations that have wired broadband coverage. In this respect, some of the requirements to follow includes fibre download and upload throughput must be >90% of subscribed speed for at least 90% of the time, digital subscriber line (DSL) download and throughput must be >70% of subscribed speed for at least 90% of the time and finally, DSL and Fibre ping RTT must be <85 ms for at least 95% of the time and packet loss of <1%.

As for public cellular services, the tests were carried out along routes or locations that have been ascertained to have cellular coverage. Cellular coverage is ascertained either through confirmation from the public cellular service providers, through the coverage information advertised or through the network indicator display on test phones.

MCMC will continue to conduct mandatory tests to protect the consumers’ interest. As such, action can be taken against service providers under the Communications and Multimedia Act 1998 if they are found to have breached or violated the MSQoS.

A total of 21,650 call samples, 518 wireless broadband locations for each of the six operators and 200 fixed broadband locations for three operators nationwide were measured. Network data audited was collected by MCMC on a nationwide scale from January to December 2018.

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About Kugan

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