Opensignal earlier today published another interesting report regarding the state of mobile networks in Malaysia. This time, it revolves around the usage of 3G as well as 4G network among local consumers and in many ways, it is relevant to the recent release of the Jalinan Digital Nasional (JENDELA) 3rd quarterly report.
As you may have heard, the discontinuation of the 3G network in Malaysia is one of the stepping stones to help JENDELA achieve its objective in improving mobile network experience in Malaysia. This is because the 3G spectrum will be reutilised to boost the coverage and performance of the country’s 4G network.
Based on the data that was collected from 1 April to 29 June this year, Opensignal said that 81.9% of 3G-only users are actually using 4G smartphones and are also located in 4G areas. This is a very interesting point as Opensignal has told us that this sample data specifically focused on smartphones and does not cover feature phones.
The network analytical company further pointed out that only 5.6% of the users in the sample data are actually in non-4G areas. On another hand, 12% of the data come from those that do not use a 4G smartphone even though they are still located in 4G areas, while the remaining 0.5% users are completely out of 4G’s reach since they don’t have 4G smartphones and are not in 4G areas as well.
In short, a significant chunk of the users in Opensignal’s sample data should have already been utilising 4G but somehow, they continue to be on 3G network. Among possible reasons that were listed by Opensignal regarding this observation, is that these users may not have a 4G subscription which sounds really odd given that all mobile telco services in Malaysia at the moment offer 4G as standard.
In other words, they do not require users to pay extra to enable 4G services unless you count unifi Mobile who has separate quotas for 3G and 4G consumption. As for us, we believe that these users actually did not subscribe to a data plan or prefer to connect to the Internet via Wi-Fi.
Other possible reasons that Opensignal has listed include having a non-4G SIM card which also sounds a little bit off but still generally acceptable. The company also believes some of these users may have purposely turned off 4G on their phones.
Regardless of their actual reasons though, the 3G network in Malaysia is definitely on the way out.
With more than 800,000 3G customers that have migrated to 4G up till 31 May this year, together with the fact that telcos have been diligently shutting down their 3G equipment according to MCMC’s plan, it seems that the regulator is quite confident that the retirement of the 3G network will really take place by the end of this year.