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Our coverage on COVID‑19

Telcos must ensure high-quality service for free data during MCO

Starting from today, 1st April, Malaysians can enjoy free 1GB data every day from their respective telcos until the MCO is lifted. The initiative is to help Malaysians stay informed when they are staying home throughout the order period. Although the service is offered for free, the Communications and Multimedia Consumer Forum hopes that all service provides can continue to ensure high quality of service for the free internet offering.

Free data and calls

Apart from free data, some providers are also providing free calls to important numbers and free data access to learning applications and vital websites to get updates on the COVID-19 situation. To assist consumers, some telcos are also providing extra credit for online top-ups, top-up assistance and also free viewing to TV channels.

Acknowledging the packages offered by the telcos, CFM Chairman Datin Mohana Mohariff said “Through these initiatives, it shows the commitment of the service providers in understanding the challenges and situations faced by the consumers in this difficult situation. We would like to extend our thanks to the service providers for the effort to help our customers to stay connected while staying home. Through the free internet offerings, CFM hopes that consumers will continue to enjoy the best quality of service.”

Network congestion expected

The CFM also acknowledges that there are potential network congestion during the MCO as more users will be utilising the network simultaneously. They said that consumers would also need to understand the cause of the problem as more devices and users are connecting to the same network.

According to Datin Mohana, if there’s network congestion, consumers might experience a decrease in data speed as well as difficulty in making phone calls or experience drop calls due to limited network capacity.

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If you’re experiencing issues, CFM recommends that you perform the following:

  1. Switch your mobile data to support 3G or 2G, not just 4G. According to CFM, 3G might be a viable alternative when 4G network is congested.
  2. Limit phone calls unless there’s an emergency. They recommend sending text messages when you’re experiencing network congestion.
  3. If you fail to make a phone call, wait for 10 seconds before retrying to make the call.
  4. Avoid using apps that are heavy on data usage especially photo and video sharing especially if it uploads in HD or higher quality.
  5. Lower your video streaming quality.
  6. Close unused or unwanted applications in the background. You can monitor your data usage and see which apps are using more data.
  7. Disable auto-update or auto-sync on unnecessary applications.
  8. Use third-party applications such as Internet Speed Master, Internet Boost & Optimizer to improve your speed.
  9. Restart your phone if you’re experiencing the same issues.
  10. Enable data saver features in your apps and phone setting.

The Movement Control Order and lockdown in other countries have also affected internet speeds as more users are connected at home. Akamai has reduced download speeds for game downloads, while YouTube has also reduced its streaming quality. Netflix has also recently revealed that they are reducing bandwidth usage by 25% and this is achieved by removing the highest bandwidth stream. You are still able to stream up to UHD depending on the plan and Netflix says you will experience a very slight decrease in quality for all resolutions.

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Alexander Wong