Friday, March 22, 2019

Cellular frequency bands allocated to Malaysia mobile network operators

The telecommunication spectrum assignment in Malaysia is handled by Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC).

Mobile network operators (MNOs) need to pay multi-million ringgit to MCMC in order to get the spectrum assignment in specific frequency band, so that they can provide cellular mobile service to customers with their assigned frequency bands.

The customers' device need to be able to communicate on the same band with the cellular transmitter at the nearby telco tower of the mobile service provider in order to establish a connection for voice and data transmission.

SIRIM is the certification body who will test and certify the mobile devices sold in the local market are complying to the spectrum used in Malaysia.

Current allocated frequency bands to MNOs in Malaysia are as below. Note that the mobile operator might not make use of all of their allocated frequency bands. In fact, most of them are not using the 900MHz band for 2G GSM.

Lower frequency means longer wavelength. This will have better in-house penetration and also able to reach a longer distance, but the bandwidth is lower and connection speed is slower.

Higher frequency means shorter wavelength. This can carry more bandwidth and also provide faster connection speed, at the trade-off of poorer in-house penetration and shorter coverage distance.

LTE frequency bands are numbered according to either the FDD specification or the TDD specification. For example, FDD Band 5 used by Unifi Mobile has a low frequency of 850MHz, therefore the LTE connection speed in this band is generally slower than those in FDD Band 3 (1800MHz).

Android mobile device users can install an app called LTE Discovery by Simply Advanced to have realtime information about which LTE band the device is connected to, as well as the signal strength, cellular tower position, and many other related information.

Tourists bringing mobile phone and/or tablet to Malaysia can check the table above with their own device specification on 2G/3G/4G to ensure that their device can function well in Malaysia, either using roaming or a SIM card purchased in Malaysia from one of the MNOs or MVNOs.


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