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Free 1GB data! But how else are our telcos keeping Malaysians connected during the MCO?

It’s almost been three months since the Movement Control Order began in Malaysia, and since then we’ve had to adopt this whole ‘new normal’ thing – which for some Malaysians seem to include bad cooking, awaiting Dr Noor Hisham’s press conference everyday and a lot of working from home for many white collar Malaysians.

However, working from home does come with its own challenges – for some with Macbook Airs a bad computer at home, productivity can be hit. But for many of us, the main issue with working from home has tended to be… bad internet connection. Even while writing this article this writer’s internet died, needing time spent on customer service calls and not working (sorry boss).

The pain of seeing 200ms at the top right corner of your monitor.

So that got us thinking: just how have our telcos been coping with the huge influx of Malaysians now cooped up at home using the internet to work, play, stream, video call and just about everything in between?

Well for a start…


About RM1 BILLION has been spent to ensure Malaysians stay online

You may have remembered the announcement the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) made in the earlier days of the MCO where from April onward Malaysians were given free mobile internet access of 1GB a day.

“For the telecommunication and multimedia industry, several special packages will be introduced with the cooperation of telecommunication services companies. Among the packages that will be introduced is free internet data usage to all customers valued throughout the period of MCO at RM600 million beginning April 1,” – Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin, as quoted by NST

Most if not all telcos were involved, with everyone from Maxis, Digi, Celcom and Umobile as well as Yoodo and Tunetalk providing the extra internet access to their users. And just incase you thought this would end by the time the CMCO is lifted, great news! In the latest announcement from our Prime Minister, this free 1GB promotion is set to continue until the end of the year.

[UPDATE 5/6/20/]: We’ve been told by industry sources that the announcement of the free 1GB data until the end of the year is not actually a continuation of the current free 1GB program, but rather a replacement offer where the 1GB per day is only for ‘learning and productivity tools’, such as Udemy and Classruum. There would also be free unlimited access to Microsoft 365 apps, Zoom and govt contact tracing apps tho, along with free and zero-rated access to health and news sources.

Original article continues below.

Fresh off the livestream from RTM’s FB.

This was on top of several other initiatives announced to ease the sudden shift to working, studying and living from home during the restricted movement period. For students, free access to online learning resources were provided along with free 4G SIM cards given to them from YTL Communications.

Broadband users however weren’t left behind too, as Telekom Malaysia, Maxis and TIME also offered several initiatives to help out. On top of the free 999GB hotspot pass for unifi Mobile users, Maxis provided delivery of 4G wifi dongles to users whose fibre internet applications had been postponed, while TIME users had rebates for them too.

We lowkey wished this was how he announced it.

And while initially in the MCO you couldn’t get new home broadband installations done, as conditions improved, the MCMC announced that if you live in a green zone, you could get internet installations done.

“Communication and internet services are categorised as an essential service during the MCO period and related installations are permitted during the order period.

New installations may only be conducted at premises located in green zones with no confirmed COVID-19 cases, whereas installation work for broadband services at customer premises within all yellow and red zones … are strictly prohibited,” – MCMC statement, 19 April 2020

A further RM400 million was invested by telcos to help with both increase coverage and capacity to maintain Malaysia’s internet connection, especially certain more vital locations such as hospitals and govt agencies.

“Alongside the other initiatives that we are already undertaking for our customers, we want to ensure that our healthcare professionals are supported as much as possible with reliable connectivity, which is absolutely vital during this challenging time,” – Gokhan Ogut, Maxis Chief Executive Officer, as quoted by Maxis

For a bit more of how our telcos have been holding up during the MCO/CMCO period tho, we got in touch with our friends at Maxis, who told us that…


YouTube app usage among Malaysians have increase by a few thousand TERABYTES!

(For transparency, Maxis is a long time client of Cilisos; this article however was not sponsored by them.)

So it seems as tho Malaysians just love to watch stuff online. According to data from Maxis, there’s definitely been an increase in data traffic, and the YouTube app alone – means not including those using their computer – has caused one of the highest increases in data use for Maxis. According to them, since the the start of the MCO, YouTube app use has skyrocketed by over a FEW THOUSAND TERABYTES. Just to get you an idea of how much data that is, one TB is 1,024GB! Imagine the data plan needed for someone to stream that much YouTube.

This is why it’s important to have good internet when using YouTube. GIF from Silver Mouse

Of course, with so many Malaysians working from home, YouTube isn’t the only source of the spike in internet use (altho maybe many of y’all slacking at work-from-home by watching cat videos on YouTube). Maxis users alone are having about 1,500 video meetings a day on Microsoft Teams (kinda like Zoom but with less security issues). Funnily enough, while normal calls had increased at the start of the MCO, it had slowly decreased to normal use over time – call your parents more pls okay. 🥺

That being said, with so much internet use, there’s bound to have been some issues. Maxis did seem to kinda admit that there’s been some instances of customers not getting the best internet during the evenings, altho they did add that they’ve since upgraded their network to meet the demand.

“… It is absolutely vital that our customers continue to get a good Internet experience for their daily needs. Our dedicated network technicians are monitoring traffic closely and working round the clock to keep our fixed and mobile networks running healthily,” – Morten Bangsgaard, Maxis Chief Technology and Information Officer, as quoted by Maxis

Maxis also made a music video featuring Faizal Tahir, Zee Avi and more for the song ‘Make It Through’, which you can check out below. While we weren’t paid to feature the video, we felt like it’s okay to show it to y’all because the more views it gets, the more ad revenue is generated from the video. Why does that matter? Well, all proceeds from the ad revenue generated will be donated to Yayasan Kebajikan Negara for COVID-19 related charities.


We should play our part to in adjusting to the ‘new normal’

While it may be nice for some that telcos are providing initiatives to help us ease the transition to this ‘new normal’ of more video conferences and working from home, it’s perhaps fair to say that we too should play our part.

Sure, restrictions during the MCO have been lifted a little to become the CMCO, but that doesn’t mean your whole office can have a meeting in a tiny room again. With the extra internet access and what not, it seems that unless absolutely necessary, video calls may become a regular thing, and it’s up to us to adjust to it soon enough to ease the burden of Covid-19.

Of course, if you do have to meet up, remember to always practice social distancing, wear a mask if needed, and…

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