Home News 3G networks: Why are some Malaysians still using it in 2021?

3G networks: Why are some Malaysians still using it in 2021?

by Yvonne Ng
3G, 4G, 5G, Malaysia, 3G networks, opensignal

Most of us would’ve hated to see the 3G icon appearing on our phones, but that’s not the case for some. In Opensignal’s latest study, there are users who still rely on 3G networks, making it difficult for operators to shut down the service.

Malaysian operators have plans to retire 3G networks by the end of this year, but they will risk digital exclusion for 3G-only users. So, why are there users who chose to stick to 3G networks? Here’s why:

They’re not subscribed to 4G

Some individuals may own a 4G smartphone and even stay in a 4G-covered area, but their SIM cards or prepaid/postpaid plan doesn’t support 4G subscription. Without an upgraded SIM card or telco plan, they’re limited to 3G networks and its slow internet speed.

There’s also a possibility that these users have disabled 4G on their phones — this could be an attempt to conserve their battery usage. Opensignal also mentioned that these users may be unaware of the benefits of 4G networks — it’s likely that these individuals are the elderly who are not as well-informed as the younger generation. 

They don’t have a 4G phone

Some users live in a 4G-covered area, they’re subscribed to 4G plans and they own a 4G SIM card. But what they’re missing is a 4G-supported phone. Without a 4G phone, there’s no way they can enjoy the faster speeds even if they’re in 4G areas.

Again, there are two reasons why one may not own a 4G phone; they either lack awareness of the benefits of a 4G phone, or they’re restricted by budget. 

It’s true that there are many budget 4G phones in the market, but it doesn’t change the fact that 3G phones are still more affordable than 4G phones. The difference in cost may be a huge deciding factor to some, which is why they chose to stick with their 3G phones. As the saying goes, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

There’s no 4G coverage

Now, this is something users cannot control and will frustrate most of them. Despite having 4G phones with 4G-supported plans, they may not be able to enjoy 4G due to the lack of coverage. However, this only makes up 5.6% of the 3G-only smartphone users in Opensignal’s study, so we can infer that 4G coverage is the least of the problem.

The largest cause is reason #1 — data shows that 81.9% of 3G-only users are limited by their old SIM cards and telco plans.

It’s time to say goodbye to 3G

If you know someone who’s still using 3G, you should let them know that 3G-only users suffer lower download speeds at an average of 3.7Mbps — that’s 72.1% slower than 4G users. Switching to 4G networks can only be good, though that will mean switching to better telco plans and phones for some.

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