Thursday, March 23, 2023

3 Reasons Why You should wait for 5G from Maxis, Celcom, Digi & U Mobile – Opinion

5G is now available in Malaysia for over two weeks now but not many people are excited. Perhaps it is because 5G is not available from the major Mobile Network Operators (MNOs) yet?


Here’s 3 reasons why you should wait for the 5G services from Maxis, Celcom, Digi and U Mobile. This is an opinion.

1. Maxis, Celcom, Digi and U Mobile offers better Mobile Coverage

The top mobile network operators (MNOs) in Malaysia with the widest mobile coverage and most number of mobile subscribers are Maxis, Celcom, Digi and U Mobile. However these mobile network providers don’t offer 5G services yet.


The 5G network in Malaysia is exclusively controlled by Government-owned Digital Nasional Berhad (DNB).

At the moment, 5G services are available only from YTL’s Yes network, for the next 3 months only. Meanwhile, Telekom Malaysia (TM) said that 5G will be available to selected customers but there are still no details about commercial 5G offerings on the unifi website, at the time of writing.

Digital-Nasional-DNB-Malaysia-5g-Coverage-2 Digital-Nasional-DNB-Malaysia-5g-Coverage-1

Mobile 5G coverage is super limited at the moment. This means that 5G users will still need to depend on 4G network most of the time as 5G network are not available in many areas, especially indoors, such as buildings and mall, at least for the next few years.

DNB says that its 5G coverage will reach 80% of the population in Malaysia in just around 3 years. For comparison, it took over 8 years for the 4G network operators to offer the nationwide coverage it has today.

The fact is, you can’t depend on 5G network alone to remain connected on your smartphone.

In comparison to Maxis/Celcom/Digi/UMobile, Yes and Unifi Mobile does not have 4G mobile coverage at many areas nationwide, especially inside buildings where you spent a lot of time on your smart devices. You will need to carry more than one sim card to remain connected if you pick Yes and Unifi Mobile as your primary 5G and 4G mobile network provider.

2. “Half-cooked” 5G Network right now

Inconsistent 5G speeds, long list of unsupported 5G smartphones and no 5G voice – All these makes me wonder – Has DNB rushed to launch its 5G network?


DNB said its 5G network offers an average speeds of 100Mbps, even at the edge of its network (1 signal bar), however users have reported inconsistent speedtest results and sometimes slower than 100Mbps. Roadtest by Amanz also showed some results below/close to 50Mbps.

There aren’t many 5G users in Malaysia yet, is the network congested already?

On its website, DNB said that 5G “is meant to deliver faster, more reliable, and lower latency connectivity than earlier generations.” However the “ultra-low latency” that was promised is no where to be found. Yes 5G speedtest results are showing latency around 18ms to over 40ms meanwhile I am able to experience a latency as low as 12ms on Celcom 4G right now.

Apart from the inconsistent network experience, DNB’s 5G network does not support 5G Smartphones from these major brands yet:

  • Samsung – S21, S21 Ultra 5G, S21+ 5G, A22 5G, A32 5G, A42 5G, A52 5G, A52S 5G, Flip 3, Fold 3, M52 5G, Note 20 Ultra 5G, S20 FE 5G, S20 Ultra 5G
  • Apple – iPhone 12, iPhone 12 Mini, iPhone 12 Pro, iPhone 12 Pro Max, iPhone 13, iPhone 13 Mini, iPhone 13 Pro, iPhone 13 Pro Max
  • Motorola – Moto Edge 20 Pro
  • Asus – ROG 5s, ROG 5s Pro, Zenfone 8, Zenfone 8 Flip
  • TCL – 20R 5G

With all those ‘super fast’ 5G speeds, there are still no fixed broadband 5G service at the moment. In my opinion, most of us don’t need 100Mbps on our smartphone but it would be more useful if we could use 5G broadband service at home on our computers and TV. Perhaps DNB’s 5G network is not yet ready for all these?

And lastly, current users on 5G will need to depend on 4G networks to make and receive voice calls. Why isn’t basic voice service offered on this billions of ringgit, next generation 5G network?

3. Major Mobile Telcos have Track Record and more Committed

Let’s talk about commitment. YTL Communication is the only mobile Telco that did not participate in the 5G Radio Access Network (RAN) trial integration in November 2021 but it jumped to the front row and claimed First to offer 5G this month after DNB said network access is free.

YTL Communication does not say if its Yes 5G users will be able to continue using the service after March 2022. There’s a possibility that it may be the First to Discontinue 5G once the free access period is over.

As for unifi Mobile, the lack of details on its website indicates that it doesn’t seem to take 5G seriously. Perhaps the RM2 billion 5G-fibre deal with DNB has a higher priority?

Malaysia 5G Network Speedtest with Celcom, Digi, U Mobile, unifi Mobile and Maxis during the 5G network integration trial last month.

Looking at track records, unifi Mobile and YTL’s Yes have yet to complete the roll out of its 4G network nationwide, but they are now jumping to 5G. Will both Telcos continue the roll out its 4G network in areas without coverage? On the other hand, Maxis, Celcom, Digi and U Mobile have committed to improve their 4G network nationwide with the shut down of 3G this month.

With the unclear future of Malaysia 5G, there’s also the question of pricing. While DNB and the Ministry of Communications and Multimedia (KKMM) have repeatedly said that 5G will cost cheaper than 4G, they didn’t say if this applies to consumers. DNB is not allowed to engage in retail activities, which means it does not control end user pricing for 5G.

In my opinion, major Telcos such as Maxis, Celcom, Digi and U Mobile have yet to offer 5G because DNB’s 5G is not ready for consumers. A Reference Access Offer (RAO), which will form the basis of commercial agreement with the Telcos is not yet final despite it was supposed to be available this month. There are many details still not disclosed and finalised, for example the service-level agreement (SLA), detailed network related pricing and much more.

The Telcos should not be offering 5G to consumers if its not for the long term.

Maxis, Celcom, Digi and U Mobile have a proven track record of nationwide 2G/3G/4G coverage and combined mobile subscriber base of over 40 million. Instead of getting disappointed with an inconsistent experience right now, perhaps we should all wait for these major mobile Telco to offer 5G in the near future.

Disclaimer: This is an opinion. Please refer to the respective parties/Telcos for official information.

Also read:

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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