Malaysians are a spoiled bunch when it comes to many things. Food is chief among them, although prepaid plans by different mobile network operators come a close second.
Rewind the clock two decades and you can literally count on one hand the number of such plans, with each operator offering just one option. Today, there are easily more than three times the number of plans for Malaysians to choose from, with each network boasting selections that suit a wide range of needs.
If you have yet to own a mobile number and finally intend on getting one, then you are the rare exhibit that belongs to the Smithsonian (or Muzium Negara). Perhaps you’re looking to get a mobile number for your older relatives and the postpaid route is not financially viable; or it could be that you’re simply looking to move away from your current prepaid plan.
How do you decide on the right one for you?
1. Do your homework
First things first: figure out what the plan is going to be used for. Is it used mainly for phone calls? Will you veer towards services such as video and audio streaming that take up a huge chunk of monthly data? Or do you live in a place where a stable and fast Wi-Fi connection is already available, thus requiring less data usage?
These are important questions that need to be answered before you browse through the choices available. Some plans might be more generous with voice calls but are miserly with monthly data quota, while others tend to focus more on data and streaming services, requiring you to pay an above-average premium for voice calls.
2. Check your coverage
Most mobile network operators have a coverage map that requires you to key in an address to find out whether your area is covered.
While most major urban areas in Malaysia are well supported by major networks, there are still many who live in rural areas, in particular those in the interiors of Sabah and Sarawak, who might be served by a single mobile network.
Even in urban areas, there are certain “blind spots” where you are unable to find a signal due to the surrounding geographical landscape. If you think a particular area’s network coverage is suspect, you can always ask around in a forum, or leverage your social-network connections by throwing out this question: “Which telco offers the best network coverage in [building name]?”
Another thing to consider as international borders reopen is, will you travel overseas? If yes, then you would do well to factor in the kinds of add-on roaming packages available.
Certain telcos partner with network providers in other countries to offer a seamless country-to-country connection upon your arrival.
3. Take your time
Unless you need a mobile number urgently, don’t rush your decision. Over time, prepaid plans tend to see changes that offer better rates and features. It is a highly competitive space, and network operators go all-out to gain customers.
According to Statista, approximately 87.61% of the Malaysian population uses a smartphone, and that number is set to keep growing in the years to come as Software as a Service (SaaS) business models permeate the mobile industry.
4. Make the leap
Now that you’ve figured out your usage pattern, predominant location, and monthly budget, it is time to make the leap. Simply head on over to your chosen network provider’s service centre and sign up, or buy a startup kit from one of the many telco stores out there.
If you have an existing prepaid plan, two things could apply here. You might discover your current plan serves you well across the above parameters and there’s nothing cheaper in the market, so you might as well stick with it.
Alternatively, if you find a better overall package at the same price or cheaper, then it would be worthwhile switching over to a new network. You could opt to retain your existing number or get a new one; simply fill up some paperwork, and you should be able to enjoy the benefits of your new prepaid plan in no time at all.
Edwin Kee dreamt of being a pro-gamer only to have circumstances mould him into a programmer in a past life. He has since moved on to write about consumer electronics and other topics. Check out his blog at manatau.com.