3G review 2011, Maxis vs Celcom vs Digi vs U Mobile

2011-01-08 00:00:00.0  |  Derek Dan
3G, celcom, digi, maxis, u mobile

When high-speed internet becomes a necessity, choosing the right broadband is not becoming any simpler.

Unless you go for fixed line, then is “end of the story”, only one choice out there, some prefers to say “no choice”.

Things get complicated if you need the mobility, or broadband on the go. With Maxis, Celcom, Digi, U Mobile, P1, YES, and more to come; comparing prices, usage limit and sifting out hidden clauses in T&C turns out to be a daunting tasks.

This is a simple, yet comprehensive review on 3G broadband. P1 and YES are excluded since both are tagged as 4G.

Maxis broadband

Speed Test Results for Maxis broadband

We start off with the big brother – Maxis broadband.

Paying RM100 upfront (registration fee according to Maxis, in fact is the modem cost) for 1.5GB plan with modem and no contract.

Speed wise, over 1Mbps is a norm, downloading from fast site will boost speed up to 2Mbps, occasionally drop below 1Mbps but recovers quickly.

This plan is for users with super lite usage: reading news, blogging, forum, online banking, downloading small files and maybe short video clips.

If you download movies, this plan is not for you. Nowadays a single HD movie could easily exceed 1.5GB. Go get yourself a Streamyx.

Strictly not for heavy downloader or P2P freak.

Digi broadband

Speed Test Results for Digi broadband

“The Yellow man” is the only 3G broadband that offers plan without modem. I signup the Discover Day Plan that comes with 3GB usage, paying RM30 advanced payment, I came home with a SIM card.

The SIM card can be used with any 3G modem that is unlocked, means not locked to a specified operator. I got a U Mobile modem for that purpose. After some simple configurations, I’m connected to Digi.

Download speed is average compared to Maxis, but it’s more consistent, with smaller degree of variations, speed is well maintained in the range of 800Kbps to 1.2Mbps most of the time.

Consistently high upload speed. If you do a lot of uploading, you could not go wrong with Digi, most of its peers are scoring 3 – 10 kbps in the upload category, with Digi, you can constantly achieve up to 30kbps.

At RM38, Digi Discover Day Plan is RM10 cheaper than Maxis’s entry level plan. Signup auto billing can save additional RM5 so only RM33 per month, a whopping 31% discount over Maxis.

The caveat about Discover Day Plan is the speed cap from 7pm. to 7.am, during which download speed drops to 128kbps. For most people, 128kbps is next to unusable. Flash sites will take ages to load, Youtube progress bar will stall forever. What else you can do with a 128kbps connection? Probably checking email, messenger, and some lite surfing if you got the extra patience…

But that is the whole selling point of Digi, if you got a fixed internet connection at home, this USB stick is meant for carrying around, for your day time surfing when you are not at home. At 3GB, it doubles the usage limit of the RM48 plan from Maxis. Guess Digi is targeting working executives with limited access to internet in the office, or with high mobility at work, travelling frequently to client sites for examples.

U Mobile broadband

Speed Test Results for U Mobile broadband

U Mobile is a special breed among 3G broadband providers. It has an unlimited package.

Rest assured there’s no free lunch in the world, it actually comes with 5GB usage limit, for RM68 per month, fair enough.

Paying RM168 upfront (RM100 modem, RM68 advanced payment), I’m happy to find out that U Mobile has a terrific download speed. Okay, I mean comparing to other 3G broadbands in Malaysia.

2Mbps is a norm, sometimes creeping up to 2.5Mbps when downloading from file sharing site like Filesonic.

I’ve been using it for 1 month and very happy with the performance and stability, never drop a connection so far.

Umobile has a rebate scheme for modem, RM20 rebates for first 5 months, so you only pay RM48 per month. What a deal!!! For the same price, you only get 1.5GB from Maxis.

Read the full review on U Mobile broadband.

Celcom broadband

Celcom has very poor reception at my house, I even have difficulties to get it connected so a full review is impossible.

Using Celcom broadband at my workplace, deep in the center of a building, a room enclosed with plywood partitions, with poor ventilation and no direct access to windows. Celcom displayed 1 bar of signal but surprisingly able to connect although getting snails like speed (slower than EDGE, webpage will never finish loading)

At the same location, Maxis displays excellent connectivity and speed (impressive full bars of signals). This is followed by Digi and Umobile. The weird things about U Mobile, it’s displaying only 1 signal bar, but I can get it connected with little (if any) slowdown on speed.

Generally the signal strength of Celcom is weaker than others, but if you got decent signal, Celcom is pretty fast, hovering between 1 – 1.5Mbps, though no way as fast as U Mobile and Maxis.


Maxis possess very strong signal strength and the best signal penetration among all 3G broadband. Speed is almost as fast as Umobile, but its price tag of RM48 and smaller usage cap of 1.5GB make it less attractive than Umobile and Digi.

Digi is a balance between download and upload, suitable for users that upload photos to facebook , video to youtube, and for webmaster transferring files (FTP) to remote servers. Digi is also the cheapest, 3GB for RM33 with auto billing or RM38 without.

Umobile is a download powerhouse, speed over 2Mbps backed by 5GB usage limit. It caters to the needs of heavy downloader looking for mobility. RM20x5 rebates translated into RM48 per month and RM68 after 5 months.

Celcom might be a good choice if your area is near to the base station/transmitter and there is no obstacle that jeopardise the signal.

Download speed: Umobile (>2Mbps), Maxis (>2Mbps), Celcom (1.2Mbps), Digi (1Mbps)

Fast download and value for money : UMobile

Fast upload and value for money : Digi

Best signal strength / penetration power : Maxis

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