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Malaysian users see clear increases in speed and experience in 5G over 4G

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Opensignal has analyzed the 5G experience in Malaysia and compared it to the 4G experience. Our results show that 5G boosts Video Experience by 66.7% over 4G, users’ average download speeds are 16.8 times faster with 5G, and there are boosts to Games Experience and upload speeds too. While 5G networks are new on the scene in Malaysia, they have already demonstrated an impressive improvement over existing 4G networks.

Malaysia is handling the deployment of 5G differently from other countries. Instead of network operators each being in charge of their own infrastructure, a ‘special purpose vehicle’, Digital Nasional Berhad (DNB), is in charge of the rollout. There is a single wholesale 5G network which operators can choose to use. To begin with, operators were tentative in their use of the DNB. YTL (Yes) was the first operator to commercialize 5G services in Malaysia, launching fully on the network early this year. Since then, three more Mobile Network Operators (MNOs) have released commercial 5G plans; Celcom, U Mobile and Telekom Malaysia. Digi has signed its Access Agreement with DNB, leaving Maxis the only operator yet to confirm signing — but the operator expects to obtain approval from its shareholders to enter into its Access Agreement with DNB by January 2023 and then launch 5G services shortly afterwards. 

Despite being at an early stage 5G is already providing an impressive boost over 4G for average download speeds. Users saw average download speeds of 284.9 Mbps when connected to 5G. Comparing this to their 4G download speeds of 16.9 Mbps this was an increase of 267.9 Mbps or 16.8 times faster.

Compared to neighboring markets, Malaysian users had 180.2 Mbps (172.2%) higher average 5G download speeds than Thai users’ 104.7 Mbps, but 47.7 Mbps (14.3%) lower speeds when compared to Singaporean users’ average 5G download speeds of 332.6 Mbps.

Our Malaysian 5G users also saw a significant boost in upload speed, although not quite as significant as the jump from 4G to 5G for download speed. They saw average 5G upload speeds of 38.1 Mbps — 31.8 Mbps or 6 times faster than the average 4G upload speed of 6.3 Mbps. The difference between users’ download and upload speeds is much higher on 5G compared to 4G. Our users’ 4G upload speeds were 37.3% of those seen when downloading files, but this drops to 13.4% for 5G. This reflects the global market trend as operators and network vendors have been focusing on the downlink side of network deployments.

Malaysia has a robust eSports scene, and mobile games are an important part of this growing industry and will be strongly affected by the results of Opensignal’s Games Experience measure. As demographics trend more into mobile gaming, operators will look to entice new users off Wifi and onto their cellular networks with a 5G Gaming Experience that is consistent and smooth.

Games Experience quantifies the experience when playing real-time multiplayer mobile games on mobile devices. The analysis looks at certain parameters in regards to user experience; such as latency (round trip time), jitter (variability of latency) and packet loss (the proportion of data packets that never reach their destination), grading on a 100-point scale.

Our Malaysian users had a Good (75-85) Games Experience when connected to 5G, but a Fair (65-75) Games Experience when connected to 4G. A Good rating means that most users found the experience ‘acceptable’ and did  not experience a delay between their actions and the game – the game felt generally controllable. However, a Fair rating means that most users did experience a delay and felt less in control.

Like Games Experience, Video Experience does not depend purely on network speed. Opensignal uses a derived relationship between technical parameters, including picture quality, video loading time and stall rate, with the perceived video experience as reported by real people to provide a score on a 100 point scale. 

Our Malaysian users reported a score of 71 points for 5G Video Experience, a full 28.4 points (66.7%) higher than that for 4G Video Experience. This rated as Very Good, the second highest category for Video Experience. At this rating users generally saw fast loading times with only occasional stalling, but the experience might have been somewhat inconsistent across users and/or video providers/resolutions. 

This contrasts with the Fair video streaming experience our users observed when connected to 4G, as this means that they did not have a good experience either for higher resolution videos (very slow loading times and prolonged stalling) or for some video streaming providers. However, the experience on lower resolution videos from some providers might have been sufficient though. 

The 5G experience will continue to improve

5G is still an emerging technology, and will continue to grow and improve continuously. 5G is already providing users with noticeable boosts to upload and download speeds, and is contributing heavily to the experience users have with mobile gaming and video. This will be expanded upon as the 5G standards organization, 3GPP, works to release new specifications, further enhancing 5G’s capabilities. Currently they are at Release 17, with Release 18 – expected in 2023 Q4.