Yes 4G: Ipoh and Penang Road Test

Posted:  December 13, 2010   By:    64 comments   


Yes says they deliver a mobile 4G experience. With this notion in mind, took our Yes Go on a road test in KL and we’ve taken it on a road test in PJ.

From our findings, both tests produced consistent results. The Yes network is indeed capable of delivering mobile data services but there are several gaps in its coverage that we hope Yes can cover quickly to deliver true seamless mobility broadband. Having said that and considering the fact that Yes is a new network, we were mightily impressed by the extent of the network coverage so far as well as the speeds that we were able to achieve during the previous two road tests.

So things are looking peachy for this new network but we’ll have to keep reminding you this is still a new network with a relatively smaller load on it compared to the more established players. We’ve heard so many times before that Malaysians don’t mind paying for their Internet so long as it is consistent and reliable. This looks to be an opportunity in which YTL can capitalise on. There is no secret formula to being a successful Internet service provider, all they need to deliver is consistency.

As we’ve been enjoying very good speeds on the Yes network, we hope Yes is able to keep this speed consistent even as the network gets loaded up with subscribers. If they can, then there’s really nothing to hold Yes back in winning the hearts and wallets of Malaysians.

So back to our topic of discussion. We’ve shared with you our findings on the performance — both in terms of mobility and speed — of the Yes network in certain areas in the Klang Valley, the question now is how does Yes perform outside Klang Valley?

It’s common sense for telcos to focus the bulk of their network resource towards market centres and high densitiy areas. This means more that often than not, outlying rural areas are not as well covered as it should be. At launch Yes boasts a population coverage of 65% deploying over 1,000 base stations throughout the country. This is more than its current 4G competitor P1 which currently claim around 40% population coverage with under 900 base stations currently being deployed.

All this is fine and dandy but right now what we want to know is where exactly in the populated areas is the 65% coverage focused on. Can Yes deliver consistent connectivity outside city centres? How is the network performance in areas outside of KL?

To find out, we took our trusty Yes Go along with USB modems and SIMs from DiGi, Maxis and U Mobile and hit the road up north to Penang for a mega road test shootout. On the way, we also wanted to find out if the Yes network has indeed got most of the North-South expressway covered.

Initially their map showed coverage blanketing most parts of the highway however a day before our trip, we found out that the map has been “updated” revealing a completely different coverage map with much less areas covered. This got us contemplating if we should carry on with the test as it looks like there is no coverage on our route, but with the understanding that sometimes coverage maps can be inaccurate, we continued with the test anyway.

How the test was done
We connected the three SIM cards (DiGi, Maxis, U Mobile) to separate laptops using USB dongles. For Yes, we used the Yes Go USB dongle that is connected to another laptop. So in total we have four laptops running all along our journey up to Penang.

All along the trip, we did speed tests for all the connections at regular intervals — between 3km to 5km or as close to it as possible. Where we can, we conducted some streaming tests by downloading test files and videos from YouTube to see if we can stay connected and complete a download.

In Penang, we added P1 into our test regime to see how it would compare with Yes on the island. For P1, we used the original W1GGY USB dongle at it is connected to another laptop.

Note: We left out Celcom because we don’t have enough equipment to test five operators simultaneously. In addition, we felt Celcom’s broadband network to be below par when compared against the rest in this test (sorry Celcom). Also, we didn’t include P1 on the drive up to Penang because its network is not capable of delivering mobility and hence we were not able to get connected while moving.

Now it’s on to the test.
We entered the North South highway from the Damansara Exit on the Sprint highway and started our speed tests (DiGi, Maxis, U Mobile and Yes simultaneously) right after the toll booth. At the toll plaza, we got speeds of 7.8Mbps download from Yes while the DiGi and Maxis are holding up decently above 1Mbps. U Mobile on the other hand, showed a rather poor 440Kbps download speed, which was not what we expected as we usually get very good speeds on U Mobile.

Along the way our early concerns of not being able to stay connected to the Yes network proved to be an issue as we passed the Jejantas Sungai Buloh rest stop. As we passed Saujana Akasia, we got disconnected from the Yes network due to lack of coverage.

Despite this, we continued on with our speed tests traveling at an average speed of 110km/h occasionally peaking at 140km/h. Below are our results.

As you can see, along our test route we were getting patchy connectivity from all operators. At no point during this route were we able to stream any videos or download files from any of the networks that we tested. This goes to show that although you can get some form of data connectivity on the North-South Expressway, you can’t really do anything much with it.

But if we have to choose, from our experience during the test, Maxis delivered the most consistent speed and connectivity along the route. We were able to get connected on 3G and above at more places with Maxis than with any other operator.

Stop-over Ipoh

On the test we decided to stop-over in Ipoh to test the Yes coverage there as well. Approaching Ipoh we achieved the following results. As you can see coverage was patchy on the highway but right after we passed the Ipoh exit toll booth, we were able to get connectivity for all networks.

Within Ipoh town we see the Yes network displaying the same trait as the previous two road test we’ve done in the Klang Valley. In most cases coverage is good. In all the popular areas around Ipoh we were able to get connected to the Yes network and even while on the move, we got good speeds. As expected in terms of performance, Yes blows everything else out of the water. Some will be quick to point out that there are probably no subscribers in Ipoh and we will agree with you on that. So again we’re saying Yes needs to really make sure that they can maintain this level of performance because once people get used to this and it starts getting bad, then Yes will have a major problem on their hands.

But for now we’re calling it as we see it. At time of our tests, the Yes performance is really good. We’re literally seeing cable broadband performance on a wireless network, albeit with higher latency. We hope to be able to revisit this test maybe 6 months down the line to see if there is any difference in performance.

After Ipoh, it was non-stop to Penang. En route, connectivity was starting to get consistent and we were able to stay connected along longer stretches of the highway. This was where we conducted some streaming and download tests. Not surprisingly, Yes once again outshines all the other operators with fast download and smooth streaming even with 720p videos from YouTube.

On the Penang bridge right at the midpoint, our Yes Go lost connection. At the same time, our other test dongles on DiGi and Maxis too had dropped drastically in performance with both reverting to GPRS connectivity. About a couple of kilometres after the mid point, our Yes Go dongle picked up its connection again and we were able to get seamless connectivity from then on all the way to the Jelutong Expressway which, if you’re keeping track, is now called Tun Dr Lim Chong Eu Expressway in honour of the previous Penang Chief Minister.

On the Jelutong Expressway however connection wasn’t consistent on the Yes network. We experience situations where the Yes Go connection manager will show that we’re able to pick up good signal (full bar) and we’re connected but we were not able to send or receive any data, we couldn’t open any web pages and we were not able to ping any IP addresses. This was very pronounced as we neared Tesco along the expressway but we wouldn’t be too concerned about this as it appears to be an an isolated problem as we were able to get good connectivity and performance throughout the island.

On Penang island: P1 vs Yes
As we were on the island we initiated the second part of our test — to compare head-to-head the performance of two 4G operators, P1 and Yes. For P1 we used the original W1GGY connected to a separate laptop to conduct our test. Before we even begin testing we note that Yes trumps P1 in terms coverage available on the island.

It is worth noting that P1 has a good 2 year lead over Yes to expand its coverage but in our tests, it appears that the Yes Go is the more usable modem. Anywhere that we went on the island, we were able to get connectivity even indoors. In one instance while in our hotel room we were not able to get data coverage with all our other broadband services except for Yes and it delivered really good speeds, we were streaming Internet radio all night without a hitch. This really impressed us.

During our various drive tests around Penang it was evident that P1′s coverage was spotty compared to Yes. In addition when we initiated mobility tests we noticed that the P1 W1GGY was not able to maintain connectivity while we were moving to the point where it got really frustrating. We compared the connectivity performance of both 4G dongles and in all instances we noted that the Yes Go was able to detect its network and get connected faster than the P1 W1GGY.

Despite this we still wanted to get some solid performance numbers for P1. So we limited our route within areas where we could get P1 connectivity. From our tests, P1 ‘s performance was rather erratic. In some places we managed to get 2Mbps but in most cases we got frustrated trying to open a web page. Ping test shows that we are connected to the P1 network but we were not able to get anything done. We were very disappointed with P1′s performance in this test, we just couldn’t get it to work. After a few failed attempts and poor performance in various locations, we decided to drop P1 from the test regime as we couldn’t get any form of results.

Despite our difficulty to get connected to the P1 network, we note that it offers the lowest ping of all. In all instances, we got less than 100ms for P1 while the rest hovers between 100-300ms range.

Overall we can say that the state of wireless connectivity in Penang is rather good. During our drive tests we got good speeds from DiGi and Maxis but as before, the speeds we got from the 3G operators is nothing compared the numbers we got from Yes.

To make the most of our time in Penang we made as many drive tests as possible around Penang town. In this instance we focused more on the streaming performance of the wireless connection. While in some areas we could get smooth YouTube streaming with Maxis, Yes managed to do one better with smooth 720p in all the areas that we’ve tested.

Below are the final set of results we got from our drive tests in Penang. We would like to point out that we even tested the 4G networks indoors to see if we could get connectivity. For those who’ve used 4G before will attest to the fact that indoor performance of WiMAX is rather poor. And so we didn’t expect much from Yes but it surprised us with good performance despite 2 to 3 bar connectivity indoors while the 3G operators delivered average performance and P1 simply faltered.

At the end of the day

So what conclusion can we derive from this test? In our opinion the drive test offered some revealing insights to the performance and coverage of wireless networks in the country. For one, we now know that be it the more established players like Maxis and DiGi or new players like Yes, no wireless network today offers seamless data connectivity on the North-South Expressway — the longest expressway in the country.

From the tests we also know that the most consistent performing wireless network on the expressway is Maxis. In our test, we could get usable data connectivity with Maxis in more places along the expressway than any other network but that is not saying a lot. In most instances, we were left with GPRS connectivity on both DiGi and Maxis, so although you can stay in touch with phone calls and SMS, you can really do anything much online.

And therein lies our biggest qualm with Yes. As a data network, Yes is amazing (for now at least), but as a mobile voice service, we have to say that the gaps in the Yes network is a deal breaker for us. Using Yes as a primary mobile voice line would mean that we will be unreachable often if we were to travel outstation regularly.

Mobile users use voice and data services differently and while we can forgive patchy data coverage, there is absolutely no excuse for a wireless operator to not be able to get a voice call or SMS across. Granted, people use voice less and less nowadays but it is an aspect that Yes needs to look into and address quickly for it to be able to properly complete with the 3G boys.

But here’s the thing, the Yes network is still new and for a new network the span of its coverage is nothing to sneeze at. Some may argue that Yes was late coming into the game so the additional coverage is a given but we don’t think that is a fair assumption. U Mobile, DiGi and P1 all launched their networks much earlier than Yes but all have smaller data coverage compared to Yes as our test reveals.

What about P1? From a respected name at the forefront of WiMAX and 4G, P1 now has a mountain to climb to win the hearts of Malaysians. We’ll be honest with you, we were once P1 subscribers but the service started to deteriorate so badly that we chose to take our money elsewhere. Michael Lai needs to get his head out of the gimmicky and downright silly marketing fluff and focus on bringing back the network from the brink. But that is just our opinion, maybe the smart people running the show at P1 know better. Even if they do, the results of our test and the consumers’ perception of the brand seems to say otherwise.

At the end of the day, despite the various issues that has been plaguing the newcomer from launch (some of which are still unresolved, like a very messy self-care portal), Yes has the most important thing done right and that is its network. As paying customers, we are now finding ourselves using Yes for data more often than we think we would. So much so that we’re contemplating of dropping our 3G data subscriptions for good. That is how much of an impact Yes has made on us.

But before we make the jump, we need to know that Yes will maintain the ferocious pace in which its network is growing and more importantly, we need the reassurance that Yes can consistently deliver this amazing performance that got us hooked in the first place. This reassurance is something only time can provide but it is up to the people at Yes to make the period in which the all important customer trust and confidence is build a very short period indeed.

Previous Road tests
Yes Go First Impressions
Road Test #1: KL
Road Test #2: NPE & Federal Highway

Related Posts with Thumbnails
Players on the Field, Product review, Technologies, WiMAX, Yes
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64 Comments for Yes 4G: Ipoh and Penang Road Test

Allen

Hi, I must say that soyacincau is definitely the best techblog in Malaysia – keep up the brilliant postings! One question: any idea if Yes is coming out with a home-version of their product? Am dying to replace my Streamyx at home…

    soyacincau

    Thank you very much! We're honored.

    At launch we were told that a home modem — called the Yes Zoom — is planned for December but there's been no updates on this at the moment.

    For home users we would recommend you assess your data consumption. Higher usage — over 6GB/month — on Yes could turn out to be costly.

    See all the broadband plans in Malaysia compared here: http://www.soyacincau.com/2010/11/19/broadband-in…

    @adneilme

    At the moment, I guess YTLC will be selling Zoom ( that can support users up to 20 pax) next year. Zoom is considered a home-version product, but for YES IPTV I think you can expect that at the end of next year.

Curious

how about yes buzz? any idea when will it be launch?

    soyacincau

    Same launch window. At launch it was revealed that the Yes Buzz 4G mobile phone is coming in December but no updates so far.

    @adneilme

    Yes Buzz is supposed to be available in this month. I guess they are working on integrating and optimizing base stations.

Fadzly

Waaaaaaa. Sooooo panjangggggg. Can publish at journal wooooooo. Ppl can use as references

    soyacincau

    Yea…we tried to make it a short as possible but we got so much data to share. If you're counting that's over 2500 words! :P

Pajill Nostra

soyacincau has done many test for mobile telco in Malaysia includes the coverage, download speeds, etc, but Celcom is not on the list?

    soyacincau

    Two reasons why Celcom wasn't included in this test.

    1. Practicality. We just have the resource and enough equipment to run another computer with a Celcom dongle. Also we don't have a Celcom line so the cost of getting one was also a hindrance. It's prepaid plan is prohibitive for our usage.

    2. Our previous experiences with Celcom has not been flattering for the telco. Celcom simply wasn't up to par with the rest here. So it made sense to simply exclude them.

moto fo o

Well done boys !

An informative read and this review will be "de" definitive opinion of current Malaysian wireless mobility choices facing the new breed of interstate Mobile Malaysian users.

If you could summarise the 2,500 word findings into 300 quick guide word will be even better !

We look forward to your invaluable updated review say in 6 months time

    soyacincau

    thanks for the feedback. Hmm 300 quick guide. That's an idea we can explore :)

    We hope we can repeat the test too!

hasnankadir

Thanks for your fair, impartial comments. You have secured your place as perhaps the most reliable source of tech information from the blogosphere. Appreciate it.

    soyacincau

    You're welcome and thanks for the support. Let us know how we can be better :)

Carol

I am impressed. Not just with the Yes network but the quality of your write up. You guys rock. And Yes rocks.

    soyacincau

    Thank you! You rock too! :D

CanOne

Well done SC. From the reply from Yes 4G facebook, Buzz will be out first followed by Zoom. Buzz's unofficial website: http://www.yesbuzz4g.com/page/3/

    soyacincau

    Thank you for the feedback and link. When you think the Buzz will be launched?

      CanOne

      According to the YES 4G staff at Lot 10, it will be launched by Christmas

Wan

I must be super unlucky… im staying in ampang and there's a coverage gap of around 500meters which is where my house is located…

    soyacincau

    Have you tried the service? Sometimes coverage maps can be deceiving.

      Wan

      Havent tried the service. I was in lot10 about to buy their usb modem and the guy told me i had no coverage in my house so i was abit reluctant to gamble and see if it works. but i do plan on getting it eventually when there's spare cash later on.

Consumer

Good job SC! I like your reports, not bias, unlike Malaysian Wireless and some other blogs… Keep it up!

    soyacincau

    Whoops…don't think the other blog would appreciate you saying that. But in any case thanks for the support. Let us know how we can be better :)

Ashraf

Good piece! Though its a real shame you had to leave out Celcom. Should have replaced umobile in hindsight eh? ;) Perhaps you can open up a request for any Celcom user volunteers who commute in between Penang often and KL to test for you on your behalf. It would make this comparative article more complete.

Looks like Maxis and Yes are complementary to each other. Maybe Yes should just stick to data services!

    soyacincau

    We know from the start that there will be people asking why didn't we test Celcom but as we mentioned. The reasons behind it is practicality and from our own user experience.

    Nevertheless, we hear ya and we will try to get Celcom on the list, no promises though but, by golly, we will try! :D

Jon

I have to say I completely agree with you. I am also noticing new towers all along the NS highway being built at a ferocious pace. It must be YTL building them, kudos if it is!

I have bought the huddle package RM1199 with my iPad and it is the most amazing thing in the world. I now get full value for my iPad and I am streaming movies, downloading e-mails etc on the go, sometimes even fast than my Uni-fi connection at home.

I was annoyed at some problems at the start but Yes is really sorting their act out. In fact I realise that I am actually saving money with Yes!

Kudos soyacincau for your great and impartial article. Blogs like malaysianwireless disgust me with the level of immaturity and personal vendettas. It is nothing compared to your level of journalism. Please keep it up, and keep saying YES!

    soyacincau

    Thanks for that :)

    We always tell people we're not bloggers we're writers and we will never sacrifice the truth and facts for anything. As much as we can we will remain independent and unbiased. This is what we stand for and this is what we are.

    About the "keep saying Yes" thing, we'll let time decide :)

    yifie

    Sorry, I am a beginner…i wan to know whether ipad got any usb port?

michele

Hi SC, i am so impressed with your fair comment and blog, its bring better educated to public about the product and it bring confident to the consumer. Keep up the job as everyone supporting you.
And to share, if any of you wish to check the coverage of your house area, could visit this website : coverage.yes.my , key in the full address to get accurate result, read the message instead of the colour.

    soyacincau

    Thank you for the support and for sharing the link :)

angelbleu

Very interesting article. It seems like the only weakness Yes has is the coverage spots, which I assume will be sorted out soon anyway? Great article

    soyacincau

    Thanks for the feedback. We've been told that fast coverage expansion is one of main focus of the team at Yes, so expect to see more area covered soon.

Andrew C

Brilliant write up. Should make more trips to Penang. You were inspired in this write up. Vast expanse of ocean opens the mind. Continue the good work.

    soyacincau

    Thank you. Indeed we were and yes we will continue doing what we do :)

Andrew C

Good take with Yes dongle with Komtar as backdrop and also Funny Mountain in Ipoh. On NSE, similar experience.

Dan

Celcom says that they are the best voice data supplier in the North-South Expressway, how about their broadband service? Soyacincau should include them in the next test!

Lee

My office is right below Yes base station. I have tested its performance and the most I could get out of it is 2.2mbps (sometimes dropping down to 0.5mbps). Sometimes, it is not just about coverage, like P1, Yes is already showing signs of over subscription, especially in the Klang Valley.

    1989

    of course u got low signal..because the beam is not pointed directly to ur dongle..u should face the antena to get max speed

CanOne

My customer rented its office rooftop to Yes at Sg. Besi. Tested with Yes dongle at the office. I managed to get around 5mbps.

kazai

if Yes have a normal monthly bill package and fixed line phone number 03-xxxxxxx like P1, i definitely will change to Yes.
Want to potong P1 but need that fixed line phone number and also don't like prepaid plan.

tan

HI, anyone know when can we get those YES devices in penang?

    tuasoo

    You can get them at House of Notebooks branches at Queensbay & Gurney Plaza.

kyasee

I enrolled to Yes couple of weeks ago and I found the coverage is wide and manage to call my friends and family. With download speed approx 11 Mbps and now can listen to music and watch youtube…… Thanks to YTL launching such a wonderful product. This is really cheap (value for money) and good….

GJQ

@kazai. I agreed with your suggestion that Yes come out with a Home Package like P1. Like u, I wish to cancel their service also but I don't wish to go back to Streamyx which is worse than P1 at my side.

gwack

does anyone have problem on downloading files > than 100mb with YES 4G? my connection with YES always drop after 45% complete..

new user

great review! by the way just to share, the speed that I am getting has dropped a lot from an average of 3-4 mbps download, to only about 100kbps download.however very interesting upload speed stay constant at around 1 mbps! really hope this is just peak time usual speed if not this is very bad and enough for me to say NO! YES please do something to improve speed in Bandar Sunway

    soyacincau

    Thanks for the feedback and for sharing your findings as well. Let's hope they are reading this too. :)

tmsat88

It's sad to hear that you don't have enough equipment to test Celcom. Perhaps, celcom should pay more attention to your excellent technology service of measuring the broadband from various providers. From their marketing, I am sure they can sponsor some equipment for your testing. You are great. At least for now we have some benchmarks of various services in various location. Keep the good work. Consumers can refer to your excellent technology service and expertise.

    soyacincau

    Thank you very much for your feedback, we're so flattered.

    It's unfortunate that we couldn't include them and we will try to see if we can when (and if) we revisit this test again.

    With regards to sponsors, we would try to stay away where possible so that we can remain independent in our reporting always.

useless

wao…so FAST….but wan so fast for suft facebook and cannot download…useless..20gb?this speed for download 4day oledi HABIS lar.USELESS!!!

Su

Just went to setiawan/Sri Manjung & gua Tempurung over the week end. From gua tempering to Setiawan no yes coverage. Was able to get Digi Mifi to work tho.

Have you try out yes life? I tried using the address book to add some friends ( want to try yes SMS ) manage to put in 1 contact after a long time. Failed to add in more contact. Please do a write up on this as yes did advertise on a 9 cents SMS package.

    soyacincau

    Noted. If time permits, we will look at the Yes Life application in detail.

    Thanks for dropping by :)

wong

thanks for your information …… possible to summary your articles ….. for better understanding in a short time reading …. wong

    soyacincau

    Hey thanks for the feedback and thanks for dropping by.

    If we have the time, we will definitely look at summarising this. If it's too long for you to read just scroll down all the way to the conclusion part for now :P

commenter

it is a good test. Perhaps you should ask yes to fund u all guys..XD..

anyway there is a minor flaw in the test. Network coverage is more concern in living area rather then north-south highway. basically no ppl is living there thats y i dun think YES will purposely cover up all the highway.

    soyacincau

    We stated in the post that population density is a factor where coverage is concerned. It makes more business sense to cover areas where there are a lot of people.

    But consider this. The NSE is Malaysia's longest and probably most used highway especially during the festive seasons. If you think about the number of passengers on buses and cars that use this highway every year, it then start making sense.

    The number of travelers on the NSE is only going to increase every year and an operator that can give its subscribers good data coverage throughout the highway has an advantage over one that doesn't. There is no flaw in that.

槟城Yes了吗? | My Chun Sheng

[...] USM的速度似乎不怎么样 关于Roadtest的详情可以到soyacincau看看 Yes 4G: Ipoh and Penang Road Test Posted in 电脑网络 Tags: 4G, broadband, internet, Penang, SoyaCincau, usm, wimax, YES, YTL, [...]

KohJL

I just had a look on their coverage map. It looks like they are indeed setting up shop along the NSE. In addition, although Kulim is not marked cyan, I actually got reception there (as of Christmas day), especially along the E15 Butterworth-Kulim Expressway.

A geo-economic note:
Kulim can be seen as an extension to Penang and Seberang Prai's industrial areas. Due to soaring land prices in Penang, manufacturers are setting up factories in Kulim(kinda, due to poor economy), especially the new Kulim Hi-Tech Park. BKE links two main industrial areas in Kulim straight to Penang's airport, seaport, and of course other factories.

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Eugene

be aware that if you are using Yes Live on the Yes network you are billed for the call and the Data. they do not tell you this but I went to ask at Lot 10 today. It is fast in an around KL city center and at the airport have not had the chance to try it other places yet

k3n

Soyacincau. The best explaining bloger ever I see. Keep it up!!!
we got hope on u guys!

lixc

Can test Maxis in Penang with Huawei E372 modem?