There are various home Internet providers in Penang. You can get Internet over the telephone line as ADSL, provided by Telekom Malaysia (TM) – called Streamyx; by TM or Maxis or possibly Penangfon, over fibre optic cable where available; over WiMax (4G) provided by Yes or P1, or over the mobile telephone network provided by Maxis, Celcom, Digi, U Mobile and possibly others. (Or you can get Internet from various Wi-Fi providers at coffee shops, shopping malls, or from Penang Free Wi-Fi – but it’s unlikely, although not impossible, you’ll get it at your home.)
When I researched four years ago, Telekom Malaysia was the most suitable for me. For a 4mbps* connection I was paying RM160 per month, plus any phone calls I made.
About twice a year TM stops working for a couple of days, and on Sundays sometimes is a bit unreliable – but usually on Sundays, if you restart your router it works again. As a result I have a backup provider, which I will discuss later.
Last year it seems fibre optic cable was laid in our street, and now Maxis is offering their Internet service. When I checked this a couple of months ago, the data download volume was capped at a fairly low amount, but checking this today, there is no limit, it appears. And at 10mbps, and RM138 for Maxis customers (of which I am one) and RM148 otherwise, and lots of free local, mobile and international calls, it looks a pretty good deal. I just don’t know of anyone using it, so I don’t know how reliable it is, how fast the speed actually is, whether they actually provide what they say, etc. Although, as a mobile phone provider I think they are OK.
I have been waiting for TM’s Unifi, which provides up to 20mbps, TV, and free calls, but it will be six months to a year at least before it is available in our location. Downloads are not capped, either. First they are providing it to condos, and later to houses. The fibre optic cable that was laid in our street was laid by TM, is maintained by TM, and the Maxis service piggy backs on the same cable, according to a TM Unifi guy I talked to.
Today I went to TM to enquire about the bill – something they couldn’t manage on the phone, which is wonderful for a phone company – and they actually told me of a better deal. It has been available for a year, but usually no one ever tells you anything unless you ask.
But being an existing customer, I don’t get the free cordless phone. Cordless phones’ electromagnetic radiation is far, far stronger than mobile phones, so I don’t use them anyway for health reasons.
So I have taken this up for a year, after which I hope I can swap to Unifi. I still do like to have a fixed line for the rare times I use a fax – in which case it is very useful. But to change before the 12 months are up incurs a fee of RM250, even if to Unifi, which is rather expensive, and unfair.
I have a Yes prepaid account, plus a Huddle, which provides Wi-Fi. I use this as a backup to TM, and if I go out to where there is no free or reliable Wi-Fi. The Huddle is about the same size and weight as a mobile phone, and its battery lasts a reasonable amount of time, so it is very portable. At 9 sen for 3MB, and a minimum of RM30 per month it is cheap for low volumes, but expensive if you download a lot. Having a backup is useful, and provides great piece of mind. But Yes has no signal in many places – it worked fine for me in Kuah Town, Langkawi as the hotel charged a lot for Wi-Fi, but on the east coast of Malaysia I couldn’t get a signal at any place I tried. The 4G speed you get from Yes is quite reasonable.
Yes also provide Postpaid Internet plans, but they are expensive as the quota is low. It is supposedly unlimited data – but has a “Fair Usage Policy” , which kind of negates the meaning of unlimited. It usually means that once you use the quota they will throttle the speed.
Another 4G provider is P1, but looking at their plans, the speed is much lower than Yes, although the quota is higher and the price lower. If you want a lowish volume data download, it could be OK. A friend who used them was happy with their customer service.
Other mobile phone companies, and Penangfon, also provide wireless broadband, but I haven’t heard particularly good things about these services, and for higher volumes of data they can be expensive. But I haven’t researched recently, so please research yourself for more up to date information.
Providers you could check are:
So, as I am a higher volume user, TM’s Unifi is the best deal for me, when it is available. Maxis fibre, available to me now, seems a good deal at the moment, but I opted for staying with TM and switching over to their newish deal, as I don’t feel like any disruption at the moment and am unsure how long the Maxis fibre deal would remain uncapped.
*In case you don’t know the terminology, mbps means megabits per second, which is an indication of speed. MB is megabytes, which is the data volume. A megabyte (MB) is actually 8 megabits (mb).