Internet performance in Malaysia as a whole is similar to performance in other major Southeast Asian markets, but performance within Malaysia varies greatly at the state and city level. This article explores the current state of Malaysia’s fixed broadband and mobile network performance, including data on: internet speeds, latency and 4G Availability at the country level. We include information on how Malaysia compares to major Southeast Asian countries and examines performance variations across Malaysian states and cities during Q3-Q4 2019.
Malaysia’s fixed broadband ranks third in Southeast Asia
We compared Malaysia’s fixed broadband performance at the country level to other major markets in Southeast Asia during Q3-Q4 2019. Singapore ranked first on our list for both download and upload speeds over fixed broadband with a mean download speed of 191.89 Mbps and a mean upload speed of 199.32 Mbps. Malaysia ranked third for download speed with a mean speed of 76.69 Mbps. Indonesia had the slowest mean download and upload speeds over fixed broadband during this period. At 20.49 Mbps, Indonesia’s mean download speed was 836.6% slower than that of Singapore.
Thailand showed the highest increase in mean download speed over fixed broadband during Q3-Q4 2019 at 59.4%. Vietnam, the Philippines and Malaysia had more modest increases in mean download speed at 11.8%, 11.3% and 9.1%, respectively. Indonesia followed Malaysia with a 5.4% increase in mean download speed over fixed broadband. Singapore’s mean download speed increased only by 4.2% during this period.
Speedtest data for latency in major Southeast Asian markets during Q3-Q4 2019 revealed Vietnam had the lowest latency on the list at 9 ms. Singapore was second at 11 ms, Malaysia was in a less favourable fifth place with a latency of 24 ms, followed only by the Philippines with the highest latency on the list at 34 ms.
Malaysia ranks fourth in Southeast Asia for mobile broadband download speed
During Q3-Q4 2019, Singapore had the fastest mean download speed on mobile in major Southeast Asian markets at 52.28 Mbps, followed by Vietnam at 26.28 Mbps. Malaysia ranked fourth for mean download speed over mobile with 22.12 Mbps, while Indonesia was last with 12.65 Mbps.
Rankings for mean upload speed over mobile during Q3-Q4 2019 followed almost the same rankings as we saw for download speed with Singapore at the top of the list at 19.62 Mbps. Malaysia ranked fourth with a mean upload speed of 11.40 Mbps over mobile. In this category, the Philippines ranked last with a mean upload speed of 7.12 Mbps on mobile.
Thailand experienced the largest increase in mobile download speed during Q3-Q4 2019 at 28.7%. Vietnam followed closely with an increase of 23.5% in mean download speed. Malaysia was third with an increase of 11.8% in mean download speed on mobile broadband, only slightly better than the 6.4% increase in mean download speed in the Philippines.
Malaysia was second only to the Philippines for mobile latency during Q3-Q4 2019 at 29 ms. Thailand had the highest latency on this list at 52 ms.
How Malaysian mobile operators are preparing for 5G
Malaysian mobile operators spent the better half of 2019 conducting 5G field trials and signing multiple memorandums of understanding (MoUs) with infrastructure vendors in preparation for commercial deployments.
In February 2019, Maxis and Huawei signed an MoU under which the two companies agreed to collaborate on 5G field trials. By October, the two companies inked a deal ensuring a full-fledged deployment of 5G equipment and services, which also involves modernizing the existing LTE infrastructure supplied by Huawei.
Similarly, U Mobile and ZTE followed up with an MoU in March, but the operator signed a three-year contract with Nokia in which the vendor will supply Single RAN and transport infrastructure, paving the way towards commercial 5G rollouts.
According to the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC), 5G commercial rollouts are projected for Q3 2020 using spectrum allocations in the 700MHz, 3.5GHz and 26GHz-28GHz millimeter wave frequency bands.
In January 2020, numerous 5G related announcements were made by Malaysian operators. Telekom Malaysia and Digi Telecommunications announced a 5G demonstration project during which the two operators will be exploring both mobile and fixed 5G use cases. Under this project, Digi will operate Radio Access and Core network while leveraging fiber backhaul provided by Telekom Malaysia. The two operators also explored 5G network sharing possibilities. In parallel, Telekom Malaysia and U Mobile joined forces to explore network sharing opportunities both with shared and dedicated spectrum licenses. This will help the two operators better understand the economic and technological efficiencies associated with 5G network sharing.
We have been tracking the progress of 5G testing across Malaysia using Speedtest data and have seen multiple operators achieve download speeds over 1 Gbps, upload speeds over 100 Mbps and single-digit latency. Celcom and Maxis have successfully conducted 5G MOCN (Multi Operator Core Network) limited trials, reaching peak download speeds of over 1.1 Gbps. MOCN functionality allows two or more operators to use the same radio access network while maintaining individual network cores. During the same month, Telekom Malaysia successfully tested standalone 5G using aggregated 700MHz and 3.5GHz achieving a downlink throughput of 1.5 Gbps.
Selangor had the fastest fixed broadband in Malaysia
We explored internet speeds and 4G Availability in Malaysia’s 13 states and 3 federal territories using Speedtest data during Q3-Q4 2019.
Selangor had the fastest mean download and upload speeds on fixed broadband during Q3-Q4 2019, as well as having the lowest latency (14 ms). Mean download speeds on fixed broadband ranged from a high of 91.83 Mbps in Selangor to a low of 36.62 Mbps in Kedah, a 60.1% difference. Selangor’s mean upload speed over fixed broadband was 57.89 Mbps while Kelantan had the slowest mean upload speed over fixed broadband at 24.93 Mbps. Labuan had the highest latency at 69 ms over fixed broadband during this period.
The difference between fastest and slowest speeds on mobile broadband was smaller than that of fixed broadband. Sarawak led the group with the fastest mean download and upload speeds on mobile broadband at 25.71 Mbps and 12.31 Mbps, respectively. Perlis was slowest with a mean download speed of 16.49 Mbps, a 35.9% difference. Kelantan had the slowest mean upload speed on mobile at 9.77 Mbps. Latency rankings over mobile were very different among the states and territories than those for speeds. The Federal Territory of Putrajaya had the lowest mobile latency during Q3-Q4 2019 at 33 ms. Sarawak had the highest mobile latency at 59 ms during this period.
4G dominates throughout Malaysia
The map above illustrates the best available mobile technologies throughout the country of Malaysia as represented in Speedtest data. We saw 4G available in most parts of Malaysia that were tested, especially in the western coast of the Malaysian peninsula. The second most prevalent signal was 3G, often found at the edges of places where 4G is more readily available. 2G is the least available signal and is found mostly in East Malaysia, near Brunei. 5G is currently not commercially available in the country, but deployments are expected by Q3 2020.
The Federal Territory of Kuala Lumpur had the highest 4G Availability with 97.6% of tested locations showing access to 4G during Q3-Q4 2019. Pahang had the lowest 4G Availability at 66.8%.
Kuala Lumpur was fastest city for fixed broadband
Speedtest data on internet speeds and 4G Availability in Malaysia’s 10 largest cities during Q3-Q4 2019 revealed a stark difference in speeds between cities on fixed broadband. The nation’s capital of Kuala Lumpur led the group with the fastest mean download and upload speeds on fixed broadband at 82.38 Mbps and 53.96 Mbps, respectively. George Town had the slowest mean download speed on fixed broadband at 39.47 Mbps, 52.1% slower than Kuala Lumpur. Ipoh was last for mean upload speed over fixed broadband at 30.27 Mbps, 43.9% slower than Kuala Lumpur.
Kuala Lumpur came on top once again with the lowest mean latency over fixed broadband on the list at 17 ms during Q3-Q4 2019. Kota Kinabalu showed the highest mean latency over fixed broadband at 58 ms.
Nusajaya ranks first among cities for mobile broadband
Differences in speed on mobile broadband were not as stark as those on fixed broadband for Malaysia’s ten largest cities during Q3-Q4 2019. First-place Nusajaya showed a mean download speed on mobile of 28.10 Mbps, followed closely by Kuantan at 26.51 Mbps. Alor Setar ranked last with a mean download speed of 19.05 Mbps, a 32.2% difference from Nusajaya.
Upload speeds on mobile showed a very different ranking from download speeds with Kota Kinabalu first with a mean upload speed of 13.18 Mbps. Kuala Lumpur was second to last at 11.79 Mbps, followed only by Seremban with a mean upload speed of 11.27 Mbps.
Latency over mobile was higher than latency over fixed for most cities during Q3-Q4 2019. First place Seremban had the lowest latency at 35 ms. Kota Kinabalu was last at 53 ms.
We’ll continue to follow Malaysia’s internet speeds, mobile performance and 5G deployments. If you’d like to learn more about internet speeds in Southeast Asia and other markets around the world, click here to read more insights from Ookla.
Editor’s note: This article was updated on March 31 to correct a typo in the second paragraph that incorrectly identified Malaysia’s mean download speed.