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Weak 4G as 3G network is shut

New Straits Times logo New Straits Times 18/2/2022 NST Business
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KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia's high-speed internet experience is far from quality, amid the planned shutdown of third generation (3G) network and the goal to enable service providers to provide faster and better 4G experience to support the deployment of 5G.

According to Communications and Multimedia Consumer Forum of Malaysia (CFM), domestic consumers were still facing 4G network issues with some do not even have coverage at all.

Based on the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) plans, the 3G network would have been shutdown by Dec 31 last year.

MCMC recently reminded all 3G device users to switch to the 4G network before year-end.

"It has been a very challenging year to the telecommunications and multimedia consumers with the planned shutdown of 3G network by Dec 31 2021. The aim was to enable service providers to provide faster and better 4G experience.

"However in reality, before they can even look forward to an improved experience, there are consumers still facing network issues and some do not even have coverage at all," CFM newly-appointed chairman  Muhammad Radzillah said.

Besides improving 4G network, the government is rolling out the much faster 5G infrastructure to address the poor internet connectivity particularly in the suburban and rural areas where even 4G coverage and quality is marginal at best.

The local mobile network operators were expected to continue spending their current levels of capital expenditure of RM800 million to RM1.2 billion annually over the next four to five years, said Kenanga Research.

This is on continued 4G expansion and network modernisation especially as 4G traffic continued to grow, the firm added.

The Jendela report for the fourth quarter of 2021 stated that 94.03 per cent of all populated areas receive 4G mobile coverage as of Sept 30 last year.

Despite that, Muhammad said there were still many complaints reported especially in Sabah, Sarawak and rural areas that consumers were experiencing bad or no coverage at all.

"The availability of 4G network with the percentage of time spent connected to 4G should not be the benchmark to measure the achievement of network quality as reported by OpenSignal but instead the consumer experience should be considered.

"With the shutting down of the 3G network, consumers are limited to two choices: either to have internet with 4G network, or no internet at all. Even after Movement Control Order due to Covid-19 pandemic, there are still consumers that are heavily dependent to faster internet access."

He added that consumers were hoping the closure of 3G would provide better 4G services. This would be beneficial to consumers due to the dependency on internet services in daily life such as working from home due to quarantine, or entrepreneurs venturing into e-commerce that are rapidly developing.

Muhammad urged MCMC and service providers to be more active in addressing the problems faced by consumers.

Among the steps that can be taken is nationwide cellular service audit as suggested by several parties. This will include a more accurate picture of consumers 4G experience.

"Consumers who are still facing network issues should promptly report to MCMC and their relevant service providers to solve this matter expeditiously," he said.

© New Straits Times Press (M) Bhd

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