Using phones and connecting to the internet in Malaysia
Updated 2022-05-19 15:10

Malaysians are known to be social media addicts, so there's no shame if internet access is one of your main concerns when settling in Malaysia. And this is understandable as staying reachable has become of major importance in our digital world. Whether for professional or social reasons, you will most likely want to stay in touch with your friends and family.

If you are moving to Malaysia, you might be glad to know that the telecommunications industry is competitive, and consumers are spoiled for choice. So, you can be sure to enjoy a high-speed Internet connection, a data connection, a network connection, and even a landline if you wish.

Service providers offer different packages and amenities, so it's important to do your research before committing to determine what's best for your needs and budget.

Mobile phones

Major telephone operators in Malaysia include Celcom, Maxis, DiGi, U Mobile, Telekom Malaysia and Time dotCom. These main operators, known as telcos, have all launched mobile offers to get ahead of the competition. Determine your priorities (data, calls and/or messages) before committing and deciding which operator is best for you.

4G is the most widespread mobile technology in all of Malaysia. Thanks to the digitization efforts made by successive governments of the country in recent years, it has been ahead of 3G for several years. The launch of 5G in Malaysia was planned for 2020, but it had to be postponed due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

The official launch of 5G was therefore carried out in December 2021 by the Digital National Berhad (DNG). The new network, built by Ericsson, was initially only available in Putrajaya, Cyberjaya and Kuala Lumpur. The network will gradually be extended to other cities in the country. The authorities hope to reach at least 40% of the most populated areas before the end of 2022, and 80% by the end of 2024.


Over 87% of the population in Malaysia owns a smartphone. This makes mobile data increasingly important for users in the country. Malaysia's LTE network is growing rapidly, and while it's not the fastest in the world, it's not far behind the global average. Its mobile phone companies have been fighting for 4G dominance. Each year, the Mobile Network Experience Report rewards local mobile operators offering the best experience to their users in terms of network coverage. The 4G Experience Award trophy was won in 2021 by Celcom, with second and third places to DiGi and Maxis respectively.

If you commit to a plan with one of the carriers, you will be able to get cheaper deals as Maxis, DiGi and Celcom offer data add-ons for some of their plans.

Only two carriers allow you to roll over unused data to the next month. Depending on the chosen package, Digi allows you to carry over between 1 to 3 GB, while Celcom allows you to carry over 1 GB of data if you have the FIRST Blue offer.

A good way to reduce your phone bills is to choose a shared cell line, depending on the amount of data you and your family need. U Mobile, Maxis and Digi all offer this option.

Most telecom operators in Malaysia are aware of the need to offer roaming connections, so if you travel to the region often, this is something to consider. Only the U Mobile offer allows a free roaming SIM subscription, so you won't have to pay any extra when you travel.

Calls and messages

Telephone coverage is excellent in most urban areas in Malaysia, but it is more difficult to get reception in rural or more remote areas. It is now possible to find unlimited offers for calls and messages through Celcom, DiGi or U Mobile. The unlimited offer of U Mobile is the least expensive, however, the plan provides for the viewing of videos in standard definition. Such plans allow unlimited calling and texting to all networks, so if you call or text very often, these plans are for you. On the other hand, if you don't send a lot of messages and you hate calling, then it is better to consider other offers with less data.

How to buy a SIM card

Mobile phone plans include calls, texts and data, and there are two types of plans in Malaysia: postpaid and prepaid.

The price for prepaid packages starts at RM10, while the price of a postpaid monthly plan starts at around RM100. Be careful though! Some operators like DiGi occasionally offer unique deals valid for a single day.

You can buy a SIM card and recharge cards for a prepaid plan in-store or at your operator's kiosk, or even in many convenience stores. You will simply need to provide a copy of your passport and complete a registration form.

Non-Malaysians must pay a “foreign deposit” as well as a registration fee when subscribing to a monthly postpaid plan. Be prepared to present a copy of your passport and visa, as well as proof of residency and your billing information.


The main landline service provider is Telekom Malaysia (TM), which offers a very affordable service. Local calls are charged at 8 Sen per minute.

To get a landline, you can go to any TM branch, found in most shopping malls, with the following documents and details:

  • Copy of your passport
  • Copy of your work permit or visa
  • Address where the fixed line will be installed
  • A phone number to be reached for making an appointment for the installation

Entry forms can be provided in English. You will be required to deposit a minimum deposit of RM75, a stamp fee of RM10, an installation fee of RM60, as well as a caution deposit of RM1,000 as a non-Malaysian, in case you leave the country without paying your bill. Otherwise, you can hire a Malaysian guarantor who will take responsibility for paying the outstanding amounts if you leave.

It will take a week or two for the line to be installed, and there will be a charge of RM50 to activate the line.

When you subscribe to standard telephone service, TM will provide you with a telephone in the color of your choice.


Choosing the right Internet service provider is an important task, especially since fixed broadband can be quite expensive. Moreover, you will need to take out a contract for at least 12 months, with termination fees when you decide to prematurely terminate the contract.

Optical fiber is booming in Malaysia. According to the Minister of Communication and Multimedia, around 6.43 million Malaysian households were connected to fiber optics at the end of 2021.

The main Internet service providers in Malaysia are Celcom, DiGi, Maxis, U Mobile, Unify Mobile (a subsidiary of Telekom Malaysia) and Yes. DiGi, Maxis, and U Mobile have the best deals overall.

To get an Internet connection, be prepared to provide a copy of your passport, a copy of your work permit or visa, proof of residence and make provision for a caution deposit for foreigners.

Good to know :

A mobile SIM for a portable Wi-Fi router is also a convenient way to stay connected in Malaysia if you're only here for a short time. Foreigners can buy a traveler SIM card at KLIA 2 airport when they land.

Useful links:

Telekom Malaysia




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