Thursday, March 23, 2023

Celcom, Maxis & DiGi had been losing smartphone users in 2019 – Opensignal

Celcom, Maxis and DiGi had been losing smartphone users for the most of 2019 while unifi mobile (part of Telekom Malaysia), U Mobile, and other MVNOs (Mobile Virtual Network Operators) were gaining users according to mobile network analytics company Opensignal.


Opensignal said it analyzed smartphone users in Malaysia who changed their mobile network service provider (‘Leavers’) over two years, from 2019 to 2020. It found that users who changed their mobile operator on average had a worse mobile experience before they switched compared to the typical experience on their original network.

“By the end of 2019, of the big three, Maxis and DiGi had lost a relatively higher proportion of users while Celcom’s net flow of Leavers started to somewhat stabilize after improving in the second part of the year. Meanwhile, U Mobile started losing users towards the end of the year, and unifi continued to add users. We continued to see this pattern until the beginning of 2020.”

Based on the chart below, unifi mobile had the most number of new users from December 2019 until June 2020, followed by Celcom Axiata from June 2020 onwards. Maxis had the lowest number of new users from September 2019 until March 2020 while U Mobile registered the lowest number of users starting March 2020 until December 2020.


Data collection for the analysis was between January 2019 until December 2020 however Opensignal did not reveal the number of users it collected the data from.

Specifically for October 2020, Opensignal revealed the following:


  • Digi customers who port out in October 2020 had no signal on their phone, 1.9% of the time, in their last 30 days with Digi. It is the highest percentage of no signal compared to customers of Celcom, Maxis, U Mobile and unifi mobile.


  • Existing loyal customers of Digi and Celcom did not get any mobile signal 1% of the time in October 2020.
  • unifi mobile users who port out in October 2020 experienced no signal 0.6% of the time (the lowest among other Telcos) while existing unifi mobile users experienced a slightly higher percentage of no signal at 0.7% of the time in the month.

Here are some of the insights Opensignal posted:

  • Opensignal’s data also shows that churn gained momentum after the Movement Control Order (MCO) was implemented in the country and that Celcom and Maxis have been the biggest gainers, followed by Unifi.
  • By contrast, our data shows that DiGi and U Mobile have lost a significant number of users. Mobile virtual network operators (MVNOs) and others (smaller or regional operators) have also seen net subscriber gains due to churn.
  • Although it’s common for users to switch mobile operators in Malaysia (and most of South-East Asia), Opensignal’s data shows that churn levels increased during the lockdown when all operators started offering free and/or cheaper data packages.
  • Data shows that for most of 2019, the three largest operators — Celcom, Maxis and DiGi — had been losing smartphone users.
  • Meanwhile, U Mobile started losing users towards the end of the year, and unifi continued to add users. We continued to see this pattern until the beginning of 2020.
  • After the MCO was implemented, Malaysian users became increasingly dependent on mobile networks for their day-to-day activities.
  • Celcom and Maxis started gaining users steadily (after MCO was implemented in 2020) while U Mobile and DiGi continued losing users.
  • We found that Leavers, on average, had a worse mobile experience before they switched than the typical experience observed by our users on their original network provider. Leavers across all national mobile network operators (MNOs), except unifi, on average spent between 69.8% and 145.5% more time without a mobile signal compared to the average scores on their networks. Leavers on most MNOs (mobile network operators) also spent less time connected to either a 3G or 4G mobile connection — 3G/4G Availability — and experienced lower 4G Availability. Our data, therefore, suggests that users experiencing mobile network pain points are more likely to change their mobile service provider.

[PDF]– Original posting by Opensignal

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

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