Not long after you land in Kuala Lumpur will you be in dire need of a local SIM card for your phone. Whether it be to reach your contacts, book a car, or browse the web during the day, making sure you have a proper plan that adds convenience to your life is a high priority.
There are two options in Malaysia for phone plans – prepaid and postpaid. The prepaid option means that you pay as you go and can choose which plans to subscribe to for the month. Postpaid options usually attach you to a contract, and means you pay a fixed monthly rate (excluding additional phone charges) at the end of month. For international students, we highly recommend prepaid options because of the convenience in registration and competitive pricing of prepaid packages.
Which factors should we take into account when choosing a Telco? There are of course several factors to decide which plan is best for you: 4G coverage and availability, wifi speed, phone plan options, quality of customer care, and last but not least, monthly cost.
In this list, we take these factors into consideration to recommend Malaysia’s best telcos and explain why we think they are perfect for students in Malaysia.
Note: EMGS is not sponsored by any of the companies mentioned. This article is for general information only.
At the top of the list is UMobile, which prides itself on affordability in terms of data and phone calls. UMobile is popular with international students due to its high quality prepaid plans. Their latest campaign, ‘Giler Unlimited’ (‘Crazy Unlimited’ in English), offers 3 solid options depending on your budget.
If you use lots of internet data, but rarely call anyone, UMobile’s mid range GX30 plan might be the right fit for you. At only RM30 a month for unlimited data, and fast speeds up to 6Mbps, it’ll allow you to browse the net, play mobile games, or stream Youtube videos all day long. On the other hand, if you frequently or on the phone or calling people, the higher tier GX38 plan is for those want it all – unlimited data, unlimited wifi, and blazing fast speeds.
#2 Hotlink (Maxis)
Hotlink is owned by Malaysian telecom giant Maxis Communications. Maxis is one of the leading phone companies and rivals Celcom as one of the most widely available phone companies in Malaysia in terms of 4G coverage and availability. In Opensignal’s latest network experience report, Maxis won best telco by beating four other telcos in 5 out of 8 categories such as Video experience, Download experience, and Latency experience. Similar to UMobile, Hotlink also offers unlimited prepaid packages.
Their bestseller is the Unlimited RM 35/month plan which features unlimited internet, calls, and free extras such as Maxis TV. The speed for that plan is 3Mbps, so if you want to upgrade to faster speeds, Hotlink’s RM45/month plan features the same unlimited internet and calls, but at double the speed at 6mpbs. Overall, Maxis is an excellent choice for students who want wide coverage, fast speeds, and extra perks for streaming online content.
Celcom is Malaysia’s first mobile telecommunications company established in 1988. The company has the advantage of being a first-to-market player in the early cellular days, therefore it was responsible for developing much of the network infrastructure in Malaysia. Today, Celcom is the #1 Telecom company in Malaysia with over 13 million users from it’s own brand and from Mobile Virtual Network Operators.
Their Unlimited plan costs RM35 every 30 days and provides you with unlimited internet and calls. What makes Celcom unique and somewhat unrivalled is their network coverage throughout Malaysia. According their press release, Celcom’s 4G population coverage rose to 93%. That means whether you’re in downtown Kuala Lumpur, or in a village in rural Kedah, you’ll be able to get enough signal to make important calls or keep yourself entertained.
Digi was one of the most popular Telcos among International Students a decade ago, as it had special International Direct Dialing (IDD) which made it much cheaper to call internationally. Obviously talking to your parents, family, and friends during the 4+ years you are studying abroad was a high priority. Nowadays, however, with most people using internet messaging and video platforms such as Whatsapp, Facebook, and Skype to talk to their relatives, that distinct advantage is no longer as important.
Nevertheless, Digi is still one of the top telcos in Malaysia. What makes Digi unique is it’s super high speed internet, which Digi advertises as being up to 20Mbps on their LTE-A network. They also have a range of prepaid packages (cheekily named Internet Cili Padi or Spicy Internet) depending on your data and phone usage, and no shortage of extra topups and addons on the side. Digi has decent phone coverage, covering about 73% of the population, according to their website.
No matter which telco you choose, Malaysia is a well-connected country where Wifi and Internet are available in most areas. There are many more telco companies than those listed in this article which offer different perks and benefits depending on the company’s niche demographic. Meanwhile on the horizon, Malaysia is on its way to developing 5G infrastructure which will undoubtedly increase Wifi speeds and also lead to new prepaid/postpaid packages to cater to high speed users. We will update this article as and when new technologies emerge.