So you still have a 3G-only phone? Here’s why you need to upgrade soon


An ad promoting the 3G phone network in Kuala Lumpur back in 2002. Those with 3G-only phones are urged to upgrade to 4G devices by the end of the year. — AFP

If you’re one of those still holding on to 3G phones or have not subscribed to 4G yet, now’s the time to do so.

As previously reported, 3G networks in Malaysia will be phased out by the end of the year under the Jendela (Jalinan Digital Negara) digital infrastructure initiative. The government is aiming to upgrade more networks into 4G to achieve significant coverage nationwide, as part of a plan to enable the full deployment of 5G.

The sunsetting of 3G networks in the country will affect users with 3G-only devices. According to an FAQ posted by Celcom, users will face disruptions to their voice and data services while Digi says once the networks shut down, carriers will stop supporting devices that are only 3G-compatible.

“If you are using such a device, it means those devices will no longer be able to experience seamless connectivity,” Digi adds on its 3G sunset FAQ.

Alternatively, users with 3G-only devices may be able to switch to the 2G network. However Maxis explains in its FAQ as well that the experience may not be as smooth.

“Customers who are still on non-4G devices might face network congestion as they will be connected to non-4G networks. This will also be dependent on the total users as well as current network capacity,” the company says.

As such, users with 3G-only devices are urged to switch to 4G and VoLTE-capable (Voice over LTE) devices.

Telcos have stated that all 3G customers will be given prior notice on the implementation of 3G shutdown through SMS, email and other platforms. Some telcos, like Digi and Maxis, offer an SMS service for users to find out if their device is 4G-compatible.

Is 3G still available in my area?

Celcom announced that the 3G shutdown has started from Sept 30, in selected areas such as Kuala Lumpur and Labuan (Federal Territories), Seberang Perai in Penang and Jasin in Melaka. (Users can check the full list here.) A detailed schedule will be made available later.

Maxis has also released a list titled “4G Upgraded Areas” on its website.

What’s on offer?

To encourage more people to upgrade to 4G-enabled devices and subscription plans, telcos are rolling out various promotions.

Celcom has a Jendela device page with offers such as a Samsung Galaxy A02 for RM299 (retail price RM399) with a Celcom Xpax prepaid plan, and a Vivo Y20s (retail price RM799) for free with a Celcom Mega Lightning M Plus Pass.

Maxis is running a “Balas Budi Dengan 4G” initiative to reach out to users with 3G-only devices. These users can provide details such as their name, phone number and state of residence on this website for Maxis to contact them and assist them with the upgrade.

U Mobile on its support page for Jendela announced that customers can upgrade to a 4G device from as low as 99sen. For example, they can pay 99sen for an Oppo A15s (retail price RM599) by signing up for an Unlimited Hero postpaid plan, starting from RM79 per month.

Meanwhile, Unifi is running a campaign until Dec 31 for eligible customers to receive an RM50 discount when they purchase a 4G-compatible device from Lazada. Customers will receive this offer via SMS.

Digi has a 3G sunset timer on its support page. Those interested can switch to a 4G smartphone under Digi’s Pakej Power Jimat where they can get devices such as a Samsung Galaxy A02s (retail price RM529) from RM89 with a Digi postpaid 60 plan, among others.

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