Saturday, August 19, 2017

Which Is The Best Mobile Plan In Malaysia?

It’s pretty obvious that Malaysians love their smartphones when they are willing to spend RM6.8 billion on the gadget!
In fact, it has become almost an addiction, where according to a Nielsen report, 55% of Malaysians get anxious when their smartphones are not near them. The need to have a mobile device that keeps us connected all the time has pervaded the Malaysian lifestyle enough that it comes to no surprise that there is a high demand for the best deals in terms of calls and data plans.
But which mobile plan really give you the best deal to fuel your love for your smartphones? There’s a lot of talk and preference individually, but here’s the breakdown of what you need to know when choosing the right mobile plan.

1. Internet data

Most mobile plans nowadays come with a certain amount of data, but if you are short of data, or you have way too much unused data at the end of every month, it’s time to review your plan. You could be paying more than you need to by subscribing to a plan that is not suitable for your usage.
If you have fallen for a cheap advertised price of a mobile plan only to discover that you will end up paying much more, then it’s important for you to really compare what you are getting for each gigabyte of data.
According to the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) in their Handphone Users Survey 2014, 71.4% of handphone users admitted they are obsessed with their phone.
One in two Malaysians are smartphone users now,  making mobile data increasingly important to mobile users in the country.
If you have fallen for a cheap advertised price of a mobile plan only to discover that you will end up paying much more, then it’s important for you to really compare what you are getting for each gigabyte of data.
How much is the average price per GB?
U Mobile
Maxis continues to win when it comes to the best value on average price per GB, being from one of the most expensive telcos before to now having the most affordable plan when it comes to data. But if you’re looking at average price per GB for specific plans, Celcom First Platinum offers up to 30GB on weekdays and another 30GB on weekends. That’s 60GB per month and RM2.50 average price per GB! This is perfect if you are always on your phone, streaming your favourite shows or gaming all day long.
But there’s an obvious winner here…
The winner
Upon unveiling the Unlimited Hero P78 plan, U Mobile wins in this category as they offer unlimited data, so you don’t have to worry about not having enough data! However, if you are thinking of using your smartphone as a hotspot for other devices, there is a caveat. You’re only allowed up to 10GB as a hotspot for free.

2. Calls & texts

Which Is The Best Mobile Plan In Malaysia? [Updated]
Once upon a time, we use our phones to make calls and to send SMSes. Though these may not be the most used functions today, it is still important to ensure that they won’t drive your phone bill up.
It’s pretty common for telcos to offer unlimited calls and text nowadays, but some still don’t. If you like to talk on the phone for hours, then you have to pay attention. The thing with telcos is, they will never include their weak spots on those promotional leaflets and banners, and hence, it is up to us to weed out the details.
Which plan offers unlimited calls?
U Mobile
All MaxisONE
FIRST Gold, Gold 
Plus & Platinum plans
Digi Postpaid 80, 
Digi Postpaid 110
All U Mobile P series
Which plan offers unlimited SMS?
U Mobile
All MaxisONE 
FIRST Platinum plan
For this one, only Maxis and Celcom have plans that offer unlimited calls and texts. But for Celcom, the First Platinum Plan is the only one to offer both unlimited calls and text, whereas all of Maxis ONE plans come with unlimited calls and texts.
Other plans from Celcom do offer unlimited WhatsApp and WeChat data, two popular texting apps that utilise data which can be a better alternative. There’s also U Mobile offering unlimited data with the P78 which makes it possible to text more via their unlimited data. But if you need that unlimited text option due to work or other reasons, then Maxis has got your back no matter what.

The winner
Maxis ONE plans win this category as ALL their plans have unlimited calls and text. The only thing that will change your package price is the data you need. But if unlimited calls and texts isn’t what you’re looking for, then you can opt for cheaper plans with more data.

3. Carry forward unused data

What happens if you don’t use up all the data quota? Previously, the unused data was forfeited and you start on a clean slate the next month.
But, why waste what you have already paid for? Two telcos allow you to bring forward unused Internet to the following month. What this feature does is carry forward a certain amount of unused data to the following month, so technically, your data won’t be wasted.
Which plan offers carry forward of unused data?
U Mobile
FIRST Blue plan
All postpaid 
Digi’s plans come with a rollover cap data that ranges between 500MB to 9GB, depending on the plan. It may not be a lot if you have a lot of unused data, but it’s better than having all of your unused data forfeited every month. For the First Blue Plan by Celcom, they only offer up to 1GB for the rollover.
These are cool features to have especially if your data usage varies month to month. Maxis and U Mobile do not offer these at the moment.
The winner
Digi wins in this category as all their plans come with a rollover feature, though the amount of data varies per plan. Plans like Digi Postpaid 68 and above have a rollover quota of 2GB and above, which is a lot more than the First Blue Plan by Celcom with only 1GB.

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4. Share lines

One of the best ways to lower your household mobile phone bills is to opt for mobile share lines. However, to ensure you truly maximise your plan, you will have to do the maths.
First of all, consider how much data you and your family need, and then look for the cheapest plan for the amount of data you need. Some plans do not allow sharing of principal’s data. This will make getting a principal line with high data plan pretty useless.
Here’s a comparison of data sharing among all the telcos:
How much does line sharing cost?
U Mobile
Price per 
share line
Data sharing 
with principal 
Additional data 
per share line
(5GB weekdays 
& 5GB 
Only for Maxis 
ONE plans
FIRST Blue, 
Gold & Platinum 
Only for Digi 
Postpaid 80 plan. 
Other plans vary 
for the price and 
additional data.
Only for 
P70 and P98 
Maximum number 
of supplementary 
Cost per line 
with 1 supplementary 
Maxis ONE 128 
(RM128 + RM48)/2
= RM176/2
= RM88
(RM80 + RM30)/2
= RM55
Digi Postpaid 80
(RM80 + RM10)/2
= RM45
U Mobile P70
(RM50 + RM20)/2
= RM45
* Depends on the principal plan. The lower plans have lower maximum supplementary lines number. 
**Digi is currently running a promotion where for a limited time users can select three supplementary-line options.

Both Digi Postpaid 80 and U Mobile P70 offer the lowest cost per line for two shared lines, but which is the real winner?
The winner
Digi wins this category because they allow up to six supplementary lines. So if you need more than three share lines, Digi would save you more. While U Mobile has an affordable price as well, they don’t offer extra data unless you pay RM50, where you’re given an extra 3GB per line. This will then make it less affordable and there’s no extra data to enjoy in the long run.

5. Data roaming

With cheaper airfares, it’s not surprising to find yourself travelling to another country every other month, if not week. Though airfare may be affordable, if you are not careful, your mobile bill can kill you with frightening roaming charges.
Data roaming has become increasingly common and most telcos understand the needs to offer affordable and easy to use data roaming plan.
How much is data roaming?
MaxisONE World
Celcom 1 Day Internet Pass
U Mobile Roam Onz 
Price per day
Number of 
Data quota
Available data in 
500MB to 
5GB or 8GB**
* Data quota depend on the country of roaming.
*It can go as low as RM5 depending on the country.
** Vary according to the plan that you get
The winner
U Mobile definitely stands out as there are no additional costs when you’re in 12 of the countries listed for the data roaming plan. For countries not listed, U Mobile charges RM10 to RM36 per day, depending on the country. Either way, they’re still the cheapest compared to other telcos, making them the clear winner in terms of affordability.
But if you’re looking in terms of widest coverage, Celcom wins as they offer worldwide coverage, though the amount of data offered isn’t much.

6. Additional nice-to-have features

There are many things you can do on your smartphone – stream movies, listen to music, GPS and many more. These things consume data, and to help you save data, so you can use it for other more important things (like upload your 500th photo on Instagram), telcos come up with some pretty interesting add-ons.
Here are some of the interesting add-ons that make your telco so much sweeter to you:
What are the add-ons?
U Mobile
3 months of unlimited access to iflix and more
Unlimited data for social apps
Free 100GB photos & videos storage on Capture (without data)
Unlimited use of WAZE
1 year premium subscription to iflix for just RM1
30-day complimentary trial for Viu, Hopster, HeroTalkies and Eros Now
FREE subscription to Yonder Music and/or iflix for 12 months
Free iflix for 60 days
Unlimited streaming of music for 21 partners
60-day complimentary trial for tonton and Lebara
1-month free trial to Netflix
Unlimited data for social networks Facebook, Instagram and Twitter
RM1 deals where you can choose from 2 4G devices and 2 months
FREE Share Line, 1 year of unlimited entertainment, or a new smartphone.
# Required to be registered via Maxis. 
#* Applicable for U Mobile Hero P70, i90 and i130 plans
**Promotion extended till December 31, 2017. 

Maxis has plenty to offer with many options and add-ons that are either free trials of services for 30 days or up to 3 months or are RM1 deals, none of which are free or last long during your subscription. Celcom offers unlimited data for social apps, which can be useful. But…
The winner
But the real winner goes to U Mobile for offering unlimited usage for many apps commonly used by Malaysians, which includes Waze, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, Spotify and more, especially for the P98 plan.

7. Quality of service

This has always been quite subjective among the mobile users, as some are pretty happy with what’s being offered by telcos, while others expressed regret and disappointment when they ported out of a telco to another.
However, numbers don’t lie.
According to OpenSignal, a source on coverage and performance of mobile operators worldwide, Maxis leads the way in 4G coverage. In a three-month test period run by OpenSignal, Maxis 4G users were able to connect to its LTE network 70% of the time.
This is much better than its competitors in the country, but also gives it an edge over majority of the operators worldwide.
The winner
However, when it comes to speed, it’s a draw for Maxis, Digi and U Mobile with average LTE download speeds between 12 and 14 Mbps. According to the findings, Celcom comes up last in speed, coverage and latency, though it performs much better in the Klang Valley.
To help you determine if the telco will perform well at your home or work area, you can always use OpenSignal to test. This can be done before you decide to terminate and switch to another telco to avoid disappointment.

And the winner is…

Based on the detailed comparison above, the winner that offers the cheapest per gigabyte rate, with other perks is U Mobile. It is the only provider that offers free roaming with their Roam Onz package, making it the perfect provider for frequent travelers. However, do check if your destination is within the 12 countries listed.
Choosing the right mobile plan should be more than just the price. If you are living or working in area that has weak signals for that particular mobile provider, having the cheapest plan with the highest data will not do you any good as well.
If you really need a lot of data, then U Mobile is the clear winner, however, it does not come with the additional add-ons such as Internet rollover of unused data.
Even though Maxis upgraded its plan significantly, it is still expensive compared to its peer. Perhaps, if you really believe Maxis offers the best coverage and speed where you are, paying a premium for quality is worth it.
With a lot of more competition and attractive options available, Malaysian mobile users can truly compare and make good choices when it comes to mobile plan subscription.

I’m Malek Ali And This Is How I Spend

I’m Malek Ali And This Is How I Spend

In 1997, Malek Ali ventured into the classifieds business with KLClassifieds. It was a free newspaper and the country’s first all-classifieds publication yet the timing was horrible: The Asian financial crisis surfaced, the business folded, and the budding entrepreneur was left RM300,000 in debt.
Today, Malek is known as the founder of BFM, the country’s first business radio station. He is also a mentor on Endeavor, a platform that pairs some of the biggest names in business with promising entrepreneurs.
In this new series, Malek speaks to iMoney about his journey as an entrepreneur and the insight he has gained by striking it out on his own. Here’s how he spends.

Let’s start with after KLClassifieds bombed. How did you climb out of that RM300k hole?
Something fortunate happened. Mark Chang, whom I knew when I was launching my classifieds product, called me up and asked me to join Jobstreet.
I said, “Okay, I’ll consider it.” He told me, “Malek, your salary will be around RM6,000”, and I was looking at the numbers… I had a RM300,000 debt at that time and I couldn’t make ‘the numbers’ work, right?
So, I apologised. JobStreet had great potential, but I couldn’t do it as I’d probably have to go to Singapore to get a job. I was a management consultant before this and I needed that kind of job to pay off my debt. And I had to earn a hard currency as the ringgit had tanked.
We left it at that. But two or three days later, I got another call from him and he asked me to come over to meet some of the Jobstreet co-founders. It was a really odd interview, it wasn’t about my skills, more like my philosophy, family, ambitions, etc.
Then I was asked to wait in the next room.
After a while, Ng Kay Yip, one of the Jobstreet co-founders I met came in my room. He sat me down and said, “This is what we are going to do, I’ll give you a cheque for RM200,000, you pay off your bank loan, and then you come and work for Jobstreet.
“We’ll figure out a salary for you after we get some venture capital funding, but for now what I’ll do is, I’ll pay off your loan. If we fire you or find you not suitable for the role, you don’t have to pay the loan back. But if you leave on your own accord, you pay the loan back.”
At that moment, I thought I should have told him the real number of my debt, which was towards RM300,000, but I said RM200,000, which was the principal amount. I should have said the real figure. [laughs]
So, in a way, this was a golden-but-strings-attached handshake, but to me, it solved one big worry of my life. Is that serendipity? I mean, who does that for you, right?
That’s how I got into Jobstreet and out of the hole.
Great. So name one lesson you learned from that episode?
Be authentic. If Kay Yip or any of those four guys (Jobstreet founders) smelled any sense of falseness or ego, then that wouldn’t have happened. Be an ethical entrepreneur or businessman and you will be fine.
The media industry is filled with highs and lows. Tell us your money management rituals.
I have two hats on all the time. As a professional, my money habits are fairly stable, meaning fairly conventional. I put some money towards savings, and budget whatever I spend, and it’s nice to see one’s savings expand over time.
As an entrepreneur, it’s slightly different. I can’t charge my company a market salary as it’s not viable for the company and in any case I have equity, so I pay myself a salary that will pay for my basic living expenses.
What if it’s a new venture?
When I go into a new business, I check if I have enough savings, enough to last me during that lean period, and that is aside from retirement or education savings.
That’s what happened with BFM. I put aside a certain sum to start BFM, and had enough left over to tide us over as a family  for three to four years. I was lucky: Jobstreet listed and I had a small windfall from that.
The rest of the funds needed for BFM was raised from investors, which included some of the co-founders of JobStreet.
So, while on the professional side, it’s fairly easy and conventional, but on the entrepreneurial side, you must always have this buffer to tide you over during the lean times.

You seem to be risk-averse. What gives?
I’m not so much risk averse but more traumatised from that first entrepreneurial experience. I always try keep my expenses low, no fancy cars, and I consider a coffee at Starbucks as a treat. In fact I don’t own a car in Malaysia anymore; I just Grab or Uber (the cheaper Economy and X versions respectively!).
I even walk to work. I chose an apartment near my office and I walk to work. That’s the entrepreneurial lifestyle.
The co-founders of Jobstreet sold their company for some US$660  million but still live relatively modest lifestyles. Why? I think anyone who’s gone through the Asian financial crisis in 1997 have that battle scar to show for it.
What do you spend your money on then?
Experiences. I recently brought my family for a 10-day vacation in Spain but that’s still Airbnb and not your five-star St. Regis. Yet it was still a great experience.
So I spend on experiences and it doesn’t have to be expensive.
You don't spend on yourself?
Well, I have been battle-scarred, right? So there’s these once every three years (points to his two iPhones, one an iPhone 5, the other an iPhone 6). One for my Malaysia number, the other for my Singapore one. And the iPhone 5 is a hand-me-down from my wife.
What else do I spend on? This (points to Fitbit) a compatible weighing scale that syncs to it, but these are things that help my health.
Though I rarely go to Starbucks, I still like my coffee. So, I have filtered coffee in the office.
That’s the entrepreneur’s lifestyle. What else… like you, I eat out sometimes. So those are my only personal expenditure and that has been my lifestyle. Sadly it is now so ingrained that despite not having to do it anymore, I still do it.
I'm throwing this question out simply because of the correlation between personal debt and consumer spending. What's your take on that?
Cut those unnecessary discretionaries. If you have a problem, then turn to the bank/credit card company and tell them that you have a problem and ask them to give you a debt repayment plan.
Basically, you’re trying to cap that unnecessary discretionary expenditure.
I think you can live without going to the Starbucks of the world. If you’re in debt, you just have to forego it. You really have to live modestly, it’s possible but it’s just hard. It’s tough.
And, maybe, that’s where the problem is. I’ve seen this happen: In your early years, you spend on that odd thing and then you buy something, you buy this and that and before you know it, you have maxed out your credit card. You are just servicing the interest and things like that.
So if that’s the problem, cut the unnecessary discretionary stuff and use the cash to pay down the debt till its zero.
Tell us your best financial hack.
I hate the word hack. It’s a dangerous term in finance. There’s no shortcut, if there was, it would be extremely risky or even a scam.
But there’s one crazy so-called hack that people in Malaysia are doing – you buy a property and you pay 10% down payment. If the property goes up 10%, you sell it and you double your money, because you only put up that 10%.
But what if it goes down 10%? Then you lose your whole capital! The real word for this hack is leverage and it works both ways. It’s a double-edged sword: you can do really well… or you can do really, really badly.
And I’ve been caught up once in this euphoria, of this particular “financial hack”. It worked the first time,  but the second time it didn’t.(Luckily, I got out from the second deal with just a haircut).
That’s why I don’t like the word hack because it is basically about making money quickly. But it works both ways, man. If you are on the wrong side of the deal, you’re toast.
All right, how about a tip?
Invest for the long term. Diversify. You need to invest in equities as well, not just in a home. When it comes to unit trusts, the only qualifier I have is look at the fees carefully, but I would say unit trusts are a good way of diversifying.
But I do have one tip: Save some money to invest in the potential 10x-ers. Things that have the potential to be worth ten times of what you bought it at.
What were some of my potential 10X-ers? We’re talking about a time horizon of the last 12 years. It was Digi and KNM in the mid-2000s, then Google.
I bought into Visa, Facebook and Alibaba when they listed, and Amazon when I realised that BFM, located on the other side of the world, was buying this Amazon service called AWS.  Tencent and BYD are now on my radar screen. So out of them, so far, there are about two 10x-ers, one 8x-er, three 4x-ers, and one half-Xer. The last one was Fitbit!
In identifying these 10x-ers, I do look out for companies who are still led by their founders. Bet against a driven founder at your peril. That explains my faith in Facebook, Google, Amazon, Alibaba and Tencent.
What’s the best financial advice you’ve received?
Learn on other people’s time. When I started KLClassifieds, I was learning on my own time. That short lesson on entrepreneurship landed me RM 300,000 in debt.
It could have been easier, I could have learnt client and account management if I had stayed at the Boston Consulting Group for another 3 years (I had to learn this the hard way at KLClassifieds, and later at JobStreet).
But I did learn on other people’s time when I was a lawyer at Allen & Overy and when I was in product development at Maxis. That two-year stint at Maxis put me in good stead in terms of being able to read the mobile industry for the next seven years.
So don’t discount the value of spending a bit of time being employed, and learning lifelong skills while being paid a salary at the same time. Don’t feel you need to be in such a rush. If you have not grasped something, it might not be the time to go yet.
Nice. Last, who would you want to see answer these questions?
Datuk Tong Kooi Ong, who has a weekly portfolio column on The Edge Weekly.