U Mobile has done it again. Malaysia’s underdog telco has just announced Video-Onz, a new standard feature to all postpaid and prepaid customers that offers unlimited video streaming for free, 24 hours a day.
The service will apply to U Mobile’s 11 new content partners, covering virtually the entire Malaysian viewing demographic. The 11 partners are HyppTV Everywhere, Viu, iflix, Youku Tudou, Astro on the Go, tonton, Eros Now, Herotalkies, ONFM, Pocketimes…and yes, even YouTube, which is now no longer limited to free streaming during off peak hours.
This is the largest number of content partnerships by a telco. There is of course some limitations: free unlimited streaming is only reserved to the P70, i90 and i130 postpaid plans, while all other customers will receive 100% extra data for Video-Onz.
For prepaid customers, any purchase of data packages will automatically entitle users to an Video-Onz data allocation of the same amount. In addition, all UMI customers will enjoy free 1GB data until 30 June 2016.
As part of the launch, HyppTV will be offering free two months of access to U Mobile customers for the live TV channels on the HyppTV Everywhere service. Viu is also offering 60 days of free premium access to all U Mobile customers, while Herotalkies is offering 1 month free trial.
With is large content partnerships, Video-Onz is certainly very appealing compared to what Digi and Maxis offer. Digi’s Video Freedom service is based on a one-time pass basis, which either expires by the hour or by the day, and has only seven channels. Maxis’ latest MaxisONE plan gives the user an additional 5GB to stream on four channels for free.
However, there is a catch to U Mobile’s seemingly too good to be true proposition. Unlike Digi and Maxis’ offerings, Video-Onz limits video streaming speeds to just 1.5Mbps. This is below YouTube’s minimum required speeds for 720p (2.5Mbps) and Full HD streaming (4Mbps).
This move is very likely U Mobile’s way of avoiding congestion on its network, as the offer of unlimited, 24/7 video streaming will likely cause a spectacular surge in data usage.
When asked about the limited streaming speed, CMO Jasmine Lee stated that the Video-Onz will work perfectly for SD streaming on all its content partners’ platforms. That, however, brings up some questions on YouTube, which by default streams to the highest quality resolution based on the user’s connection.
Should the user wish to stream on HD quality, users will be required to manually – and temporarily – opt out of Video-Onz via SMS (On videoonz/Off videoonz to 28118) before streaming. Naturally, when users have opted out, they will be streaming using their own data allocation. More information is provided in the FAQ here.
Nevertheless, U Mobile Video-Onz is definitely an interesting service for those who consume content heavily on their mobile devices. The service will officially be available starting tomorrow (29 April 2016).