There are over 41 million mobile subscriptions in Malaysia as of March 2020, with a penetration rate of 133.6% – that’s more than the population in Malaysia.
Cellular communication which were regarded as a luxury decades ago are now a vital part of our daily life. In Malaysia, our regulator, the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) plays an important role in enabling access to mobile connectivity for the community and businesses while Telecommunication companies are spending billions every year to improve our mobile networks.
Despite all these, in 2020, we continue to experience issues like poor mobile coverage/signal, super slow 4G speeds and network outages, across Malaysia.
There are no best or perfect mobile networks out there. A Telco may give you great coverage/network and super fast speeds in one area but it may perform poorly in another area – this applies to all the commercial mobile networks out there. There are many reasons why you may not get a great network experience all the time, this includes- poor signal, congestion due to many users, poor planning and optimisation by network team, no coverage/base station in the area/in-building, delayed network/bandwidth/capacity upgrade, network failure, among others.
Most of these issues could be easily fixed but in the event of no coverage or during major network outages, there are no directive from the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) to enforce domestic mobile roaming among the operators. A domestic roaming service allows, for example a Celcom customer to remain connected on a Maxis/Digi/U Mobile network, when the Celcom network goes down. For the past few decades in Malaysia, consumers are generally left in the dark when an unscheduled network outage takes place.
Fortunately, we could do something about this and improve our connectivity experience – Get a Dual SIM (or eSIM) SmartPhone and a Secondary SIM Card.
While you can’t do much about this as a consumer, you could always use secondary mobile network as a backup. Its not a perfect solution but you are increasing your chances of being connected and getting faster Internet speeds.
Some people prefer to carry two smartphones but in some situation, they may not be able to keep two phones with them at all times. With a dual SIM or an eSIM smartphone, you could always switch between different SIM Card (or up to 10 eSIM profile) and remain connected in the event of poor coverage, slow Internet speeds or during a major network outage.
For those who use their secondary SIM card slot for micro-SD card storage, they could migrate to cloud storage subscription plan which are more secure and easily accessible (Google Drive, iCloud, OneDrive) or they could get an eSIM supported smartphone (and continue using the MicroSD card).
As for the choice of SIM cards, depending on your budget, usage and the frequency of your traveling (within cities, rural areas etc), you can pick a dual SIM combination from 6 different mobile networks in Malaysia.
Below are the six mobile network operators in Malaysia (and some of the virtual Telco/brands and its host network), for reference:
- Maxis (U Mobile 2G, Ansar Mobile by redTONE)
- Celcom Axiata (Altel, Tune Talk, Yoodo, Merchantrade, XOX, redONE, unifi mobile 3G)
- Digi (tapp, Tone Wow, Mcalls, speakOUT)
- U Mobile
- unifi Mobile 4G
- Yes 4G
A dual-SIM combination of two different mobile network is highly recommended, for example:
- Maxis + Celcom
- Maxis + Digi
- Maxis + U Mobile
- Celcom + U Mobile
- Maxis + unifi Mobile
- Digi + U Mobile
- Digi + unifi Mobile
- U Mobile + unifi Mobile (this combination gives you access to U Mobile 4G/3G, Maxis 2G, unifi 4G, Celcom 3G)
For those who don’t have a big budget, they could get a secondary prepaid SIM as a backup and use it only when necessary.
In the case of slow Internet speeds on your primary line, you could switch to your secondary prepaid SIM, purchase a hourly or daily Internet plan and likely enjoy faster speeds, depending on the choice of your network. This also applies when you are getting poor signal or when your primary network goes down. With the secondary SIM, you can continue to remain connected for Internet/Whatsapp/Instagram/Facebook and more.
For example, a prepaid user with a small budget who does not frequently travel out of the city could have the following combination, for below RM50/month:
- U Mobile GX30 prepaid plan with unlimited 3Mbps Internet at RM30/month (Primary) + ONEXOX Prepaid SP Fat 20 plan with 20GB Internet and 28 months validity for a one time fee of RM30 (Secondary). Total monthly Internet fee at RM30/month.
- Celcom Xpax Unlimited 3Mbps Internet at RM35/month (Primary) + Maxis-Hotlink Prepaid plan at RM10 every month (or every 60 days) to keep it active and use as a backup (Secondary). Total around RM45/month.
- Digi Prepaid plan with 20GB Internet and Unlimited calls at RM30/month (Primary) + unifi Mobile Bebas Prepaid at RM10 every month (or every 90 days) to keep it active and use as a backup (Secondary). Maximum RM40/month.
You don’t have to reload the secondary prepaid plan every month unless you need to use it. Some of the prepaid plans with long validity period are as below:
- ONEXOX Prepaid with 28 months validity (one time only) at RM30
- Unifi Bebas Prepaid plan with 90 days validity (gets extended to another 90 days if you make a call/SMS/use Internet/reload)
- Tune Talk Prepaid 365 validity – RM28 or RM35 depending on plan
- Ansar Mobile Prepaid 1 year validity at RM35
- Altel Prepaid 365 for 365 days at RM28
For all the unlimited prepaid Internet plans in Malaysia, visit this page.
For details of eSIM in Malaysia, check out this article.