Speed is something anyone using mobile internet services would be concerned about. A fast and stable connection trumps everything else in deciding whether a mobile experience is going to be enjoyable or disappointing. You may be carrying the latest high end smartphone and running the best of mobile apps but if the connection sucks, so does your mobile experience.
Mobile World was one of the earliest publications, if not the first, to run road tests to determine real life Malaysian consumer experiences. And we are happy to inform that we have just finished our latest rounds of road tests around Malaysia.
In this issue, we present our results of the southern portion of our speed tests. The following three issues will feature the results of our tests in Kuantan, Penang and finally, the Klang Valley. Yes, all the tests have been done and dusted. Over the last one month or so, the Mobile World team covered the south, east, north and the central urban centres of Peninsula Malaysia. Since our aim was to replicate a typical mobile experience, we did not tell the telcos that we were carrying out the road tests. We’re guessing they should be equally interested in finding out how they did.
So, who’s the fastest of them all? You will find out at the end, in our July issue, but for now, we will tell you who the speed king down south is.
The mobile landscape has moved forward quite a bit since Mobile World last carried out speed road tests. Last time around, we covered just three telcos. Our 2013 tests cover all major telcos. We took along modems, dongles, MiFis and smartphones along with SIM cards and connection accounts from Celcom, DiGi, Maxis, P1, U Mobile and Yes.
In each location, we ran two tests. The first was to test the smartphone experience. We used a Samsung Galaxy S3 phone (or another mobile device if the operator did not support that phone) for this test. After that, we used a dongle. The same dongle was used if it could run on the network. If that was not possible, we used a modem or a device that ran on that network.
We also ensured that we registered for high speed plans from the telcos. Some plans have cheap monthly commitments but these restrict the speeds offered. We did not take up those plans. To test the speeds, we used a neutral and well known application this time around: the Speedtest application which is freely available for anyone to test speeds.
The Southern Speed King
Overall, there have been significant improvements from 2011. The last time we went down south, we got excited anytime speeds crossed 2 Mbps. This time, we were disappointed if speeds dropped below 2 Mbps. Sadly, DiGi is the operator we have to point the finger here. Their network speeds are much lower than the other operators.
When deciphering the figures on the chart, make sure you know what to watch out for. Ping speeds reflect how long sites take to respond and are an indication of the latency of the networks. As far as Pings are concerned the LOWER the figure, the better. Download speeds are the most important thing one needs to monitor as most of our internet activity consists of websites, applications and emails coming down to our mobile devices. Upload speeds are important when we send data to the Internet and reflect how long it takes for a consumer to upload a photo to Facebook or send an email with attachments.
We recorded decent speeds from the other operators, with one caveat: only in the areas where we could get their signal. Yes had nice speeds wherever we could get signals but contrary to their claims, a signal could not be obtained in every location. P1 was slower than Yes and we also had problems getting their signals everywhere.
We got much better speeds from Celcom than the ones we got in 2011. Their upload speeds were also decent but their download speeds could be improved a bit more.
Maxis shone out from the rest in the south. At some locations, we got blazing fast speeds - even better than the speeds consumers are getting at home on fibre optic connections. When speeds were above 10 Mbps - and we got 13 Mbps and 15 Mbps at two locations - it was blissful using the Internet.The speeds we got from Maxis over the mobile phone were equally exciting. Averaging more than 4 Mbps, websites loaded super fast and there was hardly any lag in response time.
From key locations in JB down to Melaka, we got consistently higher speeds from Maxis than the rest. The number one telco has not been resting on its laurels and appears to have spent the last two years putting in significant upgrades to its network in the south.
Coming up with the winner in the South was easy. Maxis won hands down. What was it like in the East Coast? Find out in our next issue.