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Phones and internet in Malaysia

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Malaysians are known to be social media addicts, so there's nothing to be embarrassed about if your data connection is one of your prime concerns when moving to Malaysia. You'll most probably be keen to keep in touch with your friends and family back home, and being contactable is of utmost importance in our developed world for business and social reasons.

If you are relocating to Malaysia, you may be pleased to know that the telecommunications industry is competitive, and consumers are spoilt for choice. You can rest assured you'll have high-speed internet, data connection, network connection, and even a landline if you so wish.

However, different service providers offer different facillities and deals, so it's important to do your research before you commit to anything, so you can work out what's best for your needs and budget.

Mobile phones

Malaysia has four main national network operators Celcom, Maxis, DiGi and U Mobile. These major telecommunications operators, known as telcos, have all launched mobile plans to beat their competitors. Decide on your priorities data, phone calls and/or texts before you sign up for anything, and then work out what operator and plan suits you best.

Data

Over half the Malaysian population have smartphones, which makes mobile data increasingly important to mobile users in the country. Malaysia's LTE network is rapidly developing and, although it may not be the fastest in the world, it's not far behind the global average. Its four telcos are locked in a battle for 4G dominance, but Maxis holds an edge due to its superior LTE availability.

If you sign up to a plan with one of the telcos, things can work out cheaper for you, as Maxis, DiGi and Celcom all give away additional data for some of their plans.

Only two telcos allow you to carry forward any unused data to the following month. Digi allows 1GB to 3GB of rollover, depending on your plan, while Celcom allows you to carry forward 1GB of data if you have the FIRST Blue plan.

A good way to lower your household mobile phone bills is to opt for mobile share lines, depending on how much data you and your family need. U Mobile, Maxis and Digi all offer this datapool feature.

Most telcos in Malaysia understand the need to offer a data roaming plan, so if you plan to travel a lot around the region, this is something to consider. However, only U Mobile’s Data Backpack offers a free roaming package, so you won't have any additional roaming charges when you travel.

Calls and texts

There is excellent phone coverage in most urban areas of Malaysia, but you may struggle finding reception in more remote or rural areas. It is possible to find a plan that offers unlimited calls and texts nowadays. All MaxisONE plans and the Celcom FIRST Platinum plan offer both unlimited calls and texts to all networks, so if you send a lot of texts or make a lot of calls, then either of these two plans would suit you. However, if you're not big on SMS or hate talking on the phone, then it's worth considering other plans that offer more data instead.

How to purchase a SIM

Mobile phone plans include calls, texts and data, and there are two types of plans in Malaysia postpaid and prepaid. The price of a pre-paid plan starts at RM5, while the price of a post-paid monthly plan starts at about RM80. You can buy a SIM card and top-up vouchers for a prepaid plan in the retail store or kiosk of your chosen telco, or even in many convenience stores. You will need to simply provide a copy of your passport and complete a registration form.

Non-Malaysians are required to pay a Foreigner Deposit as well as a registration fee when subscribing for a postpaid monthly plan. You should be prepared to submit a copy of your passport and visa, as well as a proof of address and your billing information.

Landline

The main landline service provider is Telekom Malaysia and this offers a very affordable fixed line service local calls start at just 8 sen for the first two minutes and are only 4 sen per minute thereafter.

To obtain a landline, visit any TM branch, which can be found in most shopping malls, with the following documents and details:

  • A copy of your passport
  • A copy of your Employment Pass or visa
  • Address of where the landline will be installed
  • A telephone number you can be reached on to arrange an appointment for installation

Application forms can be requested in English. You will be required to make a standard RM75 deposit, plus an additional RM1,000 deposit as a non-Malaysian, in case you leave the country without settling any unpaid bills. Alternatively, you will need a Malaysian guarantor who will take the responsibility of paying any outstanding amounts if you leave.

You will have to wait one to two weeks for the landline to be installed, and there will be an activation charge of RM50, as well as an installation charge of RM30.

When you subscribe for a basic telephone service, TM will provide you with a telephone set of your colour choice.

Internet

Choosing the right Internet Service Provider (ISP) is an important task, especially as a fixed broadband can be quite expensive, and you need to sign up for at least a 12-month contract that comes with a steep termination fee if broken. Despite the arrival of fibre in Malaysia, there are still a lot of users who rely on ADSL connectivity, as fibre service availability is still quite limited. TM Net (Telekom), Maxis and TIME are the three mainstream internet providers in Malaysia, so it's worth signing up with one of them to be assured of a reliable connection.

To obtain an internet connection, prepare to submit a copy of your passport, a copy of your Employment Pass or visa, a proof of address, and a foreigner deposit.

 Good to know:

A mobile SIM for a portable WiFi router is also a convenient way to stay connected in Malaysia if you're only there for a shorter period of time. Foreigners can buy a traveller SIM pack at KLIA2 when they land.

  Useful links:

Telekom Malaysia
Celcom
Maxis
Fibre internet portal

We do our best to provide accurate and up to date information. However, if you have noticed any inaccuracies in this article, please let us know in the comments section below.
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