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The basics
Malaysia: Once you arrive

Setting up broadband and phone services in Malaysia

Cable provide a guide to arranging broadband internet, phone and mobile services for international students arriving in Malaysia....

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Wherever you end up in the country (either in Peninsular Malaysia or across the South China Sea in East Malaysia), you’ll find lots of things to see and do there. From the busy capital city of Kuala Lumpur, to the world’s largest naturally formed underground network, the Mulu Caves in Sarawak, you’re sure of a memorable visit.  

At first, studying in Malaysia – like in any other foreign country – can be quite daunting. So keeping in touch with family and friends back home is a must. Fortunately, it’s easy to find ways to contact the UK. Here’s what you need to know.


How do I get a mobile, landline or broadband deal in Malaysia?

It’s possible to get your own Malaysian mobile phone, landline or broadband connection while studying in the country, but there are a few things you’ll need to have before you sign up for a contract. As well as a student visa you’ll need a college or university pass, which providers may ask for to confirm your student status.

In order to get your student pass, you’ll need to send in passport sized photographs and an application form to the Malaysian Immigration Department Headquarters. Once approved, you should be able to sign up for goods and services on credit.

Just like in the UK, Malaysian mobile and broadband providers will carry out credit checks on you. For those who haven’t built up a credit rating, there’s an option to buy a prepaid or postpaid SIM, which you’ll find in a wide range of stores. You’ll also need an unlocked international mobile phone, but don’t worry if you don’t have one: there are a variety of phones available to purchase once you are there.


Who can I get broadband from in Malaysia?

Most of the universities are based in the popular city areas, like Kula Lumpur, so you should have access to some kind of broadband. The fastest broadband provider is Time, which offers a download speed of up to 100Mbps but you’ll find a 24-month contract usually applies. Admittedly, this isn’t ideal for international students, especially if you’re travelling back for the holidays or only staying in the country for a year, but if you want the fastest possible connection, Time is the way to go.

Fortunately, there are a number of 12 month plans available from some smaller providers. These include PAUSE and ABNxcess, which combine broadband with TV bundles. Maxis, City Broadband and TM UniFi.

Mobile broadband is also widely available. Although 4G is only generally found in urban areas, 3G covers 95.8% of the Malaysian population. As such, you shouldn’t struggle for a mobile signal. There are also a growing number of Wi-Fi hotspots in Malaysia, in locations as diverse as coffee shops, restaurants and civic buildings throughout the country. If you want to sign up for your own and carry a Wi-Fi hotspot with you, the most popular providers of mobile broadband in Malaysia are DiGi and Celcom.


What’s the best way for me to call home from Malaysia?

One of the best ways to call home from Malaysia is using a SIM-only plan on your mobile. These come with a set amount of texts, inclusive minutes and data allowance to help you stay in control of your spending.

If you don’t want to be tied to a contract then you may prefer a prepaid SIM instead. These are available from a variety of mobile networks including Celcom, DiGi and Maxis. Essentially UK pay-as-you-go by another name, you top up your credit just like back home. For a deal specifically aimed at international students, you can get the Hello Malaysia Traveller’s Pack from DiGi, which which offers good value overseas calls. There is also a Traveller SIM available from Celcom, which allows you to ring 20 worlwide destinations at a competitive rate.

If you want to sort things out before you travel, you can make cheap international calls using the free Tesco Calling Card app. It connects to Wi-Fi and allows you to call back home at a cheaper rate and send in-app messages via the internet.

The cheapest way of staying in touch, however, is through a free Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) service such as Skype or Viber. All you need is an internet connection and access to a computer with a webcam and microphone. The person who you’ll contact will also need the same VoIP software, suitable hardware and be online at the same time as you, but you won’t be charged for your voice or video call.


What are my rights as a consumer in Malaysia?

There was a lack of substantial consumer protection laws in the country until 2010, when the Malaysian Parliament instigated the Consumer Protection (Amendment) Bill 2010. This law is designed to protect consumers and deals specifically with unfair contract terms.  If you feel that a term within your mobile or broadband contract is unjust, then you can contact your provider and cancel the contract without being penalized – if you can prove it to be so.  

If the provider disputes your claim, you can file a complaint online with the Tribunal for Consumer Claims (e-Tribunal). This is an independent body that was established in 1999 and operates under the Ministry of Domestic Trade, Co-Operatives and Consumerism.  You will have to register online and follow the very detailed instructions, but if you persevere you should get a positive result.


Is there anything else I should know?

Malaysia is a country that implements fairly extensive internet censorship. It has been stated that around 6,640 websites have been completely blocked as of 2008. Reasons for censorship including preventing the ridicule of Islam, barring pornographic content or prevent access to “malicious content”. On a lighter note, Malaysia’s surrounding waters are one of the most biodiverse in the world with over 600 species of coral, so even if you can’t get to every site online, you can always go snorkeling.  



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