Quality and Speed of Mobile Internet in Southeast Asia

Quality and Speed of Mobile Internet in Southeast Asia

The Thai government expects more than 40 million tourists in 2024. Thailand is one of the many Southeast Asian countries that are extremely popular with travelers. Exoticism, beautiful landscapes and cultural diversity are attracting more and more compatriots who are enthusiastically discovering the charms of this region.

In today’s article we will take a closer look at the quality and speed of mobile Internet in countries such as Thailand, the Philippines, Malaysia, Indonesia, Vietnam and Singapore.

Mobile Internet in Southeast Asia – availability, quality and speed

Mobile Internet in Southeast Asia has grown significantly in recent years, becoming a key tool for accessing information and digital services. The region includes countries such as Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, the Philippines and Vietnam, where the number of mobile Internet users is growing rapidly. The demographics of these countries are characterized by a young population that is rapidly adapting to new technologies. For example, in Indonesia, the region’s largest country by population, more than half of the population is under the age of 30, encouraging rapid adoption of mobile technologies.

Mobile Internet availability varies quite a bit – in cities and major economic centers, the signal is generally strong and stable, but rural areas still face weaker telecommunications infrastructure. In addition, terrain such as the mountainous areas of Vietnam or the vast islands of Indonesia and the Philippines pose challenges to network expansion. Governments in many of these countries, along with private companies, are investing heavily in expanding 4G networks and deploying 5G technology to address these disparities and enable greater access to high-speed mobile Internet.

Southeast Asia (source: Wikipedia)

Tourists traveling to Southeast Asia should pay attention to a few key considerations when using mobile Internet. First and foremost, it’s a good idea to figure out what local SIM cards are available and which ones offer the best data packages and coverage. In many countries in the region, such as Thailand, Malaysia and Vietnam, buying a SIM card at the airport or in the city is relatively easy and inexpensive, and operators offer a variety of plans that can be tailored to tourists’ needs.

Another important consideration is the quality and speed of the Internet connection. In major cities and tourist resorts such as Bangkok, Bali and Kuala Lumpur, you can expect good coverage and fast internet. However, in more remote regions and on smaller islands, the signal may be weaker or unstable.

Travelers to Asia should also pay attention to the safety of using public Wi-Fi networks. Free networks are often available in cafes, hotels and restaurants, but they may not be fully secured. Using a VPN (Virtual Private Network) can help protect privacy and personal information when using public hotspots.

What is the speed of mobile Internet in the Philippines?

There are three major mobile operators in the Philippines: Smart Communications, Globe Telecom and Dito Telecommunity. Smart and Globe are the two largest players in the market, with a base of more than 50 million subscribers each. In addition to them, there are several active mobile virtual network operators (MVNOs) and mobile brands offering a variety of plans.

Cherry Prepaid, which operates on Globe Telecom’s infrastructure, offers simple prepaid plans and mobile devices. Sun Cellular and TNT, brands owned by Smart and Globe Telecom, respectively, offer both prepaid and postpaid plans, targeting customers looking for affordable solutions. TM, Globe Telecom’s other brand, focuses on prepaid offers. Also worth mentioning is Malaysian MVNO Redone Mobile, which plans to expand into the Philippines, although it currently operates only in Thailand.

Mobile Internet speeds in the Philippines are satisfactory, although they are inferior to the quality of connections in other countries in the region. The average download speed is 30.77 Mbps, and upload speed is 8.1 Mbps. Also worth noting is the low ping of about 25 ms, which ensures relatively smooth and stable connections, which is important for both everyday use and more demanding applications.

What is the speed of mobile Internet in Indonesia?

Indonesia, the fourth most populous country in the world, has a highly competitive telecommunications sector serving a diverse population. The largest operator is Telkomsel, which is a subsidiary of Telkom Indonesia and Singtel. Other big players are Indosat Ooredoo, owned by Qatar’s Ooredoo Group, and XL Axiata, part of Malaysia’s Axiata Group. Tri Indonesia (3), part of the Hutchison Asia Telecom Group, and private operator Smartfren, focused on 4G and 5G services, also play a significant role in the market. All of these companies offer a wide range of services in different regions of the country, providing users with many options to choose from.

In the RFBENCHMARK research, Indonesia fared the worst in the region in terms of mobile Internet speeds. It reported the lowest average download speed, at 29.3 Mbps, and the worst performance in terms of ping, which reached 26 ms. Despite these results, upload speeds were relatively high at 14.6 Mbps. Although these parameters may not match the standards of other countries in the region, users can still enjoy mobile Internet at a satisfactory level.

What is the speed of mobile Internet in Malaysia?

In Malaysia, the mobile Internet market is well developed, with 5 major mobile operators and 9 mobile virtual network operators (MVNOs). The largest player is CelcomDigi, with 20.3 million subscribers. In second place is Maxis/Hotlink, with more than 11.67 million users. Other significant operators are U Mobile, Unifi and Yes, which have built significant subscriber bases through years of operation.

All major operators, including CelcomDigi, Maxis, U Mobile, Unifi and Yes, have expanded their networks, moving from 2G to support 3G/4G technology, and some also 5G, to meet growing customer demands.

SIM cards from the major carriers are widely available, but rural areas may only have offers from one or two providers. To avoid inconvenience, it is best to purchase SIM cards at airports or in tourist areas of cities.

Mobile Internet quality and speed in Malaysia are at a very high level, placing the country at the forefront of the Southeast Asian region. The average download speed is an impressive 93.65 Mbps, the upload speed is 22.25 Mbps and the ping is at 25 ms.

What is the speed of mobile Internet in Singapore?

Singapore is globally one of the most technologically advanced countries. This is reflected in the availability, as well as the quality, of mobile Internet. There are two main types of mobile operators in Singapore: full-profile mobile network operators (MNOs) and mobile virtual network operators (MVNOs).

Full-profile operators such as Singtel, StarHub and M1 own their own infrastructure, namely telecommunications towers, base stations and other equipment that enable mobile communications. These three companies offer a variety of mobile services, such as voice, data and messaging, providing excellent coverage throughout the country.

MVNOs, or virtual operators, do not have their own network infrastructure. Instead, they rent network capacity from full-profile operators. They usually offer more specialized services, such as low-cost tariff plans or plans aimed at specific customer groups.

Thanks to advanced infrastructure and modern technology, users in Singapore can enjoy very fast and reliable mobile Internet. Average download speeds are an impressive 93.65 Mbps, and upload speeds are 22.25 Mbps. Low ping values are also recorded, which remain at an average of 25 ms.

What is the speed of mobile Internet in Thailand?

At the end of 2023, there were three major mobile operators in Thailand: AIS, DTAC and TrueMove. Thailand’s mobile market is highly developed, with a total number of subscribers of 98,032,500, which, with a population of 66,052,615, gives a penetration rate of 148%.

AIS is Thailand’s largest mobile operator, with more than 40 million subscribers. It offers a variety of services, including 3G and 4G networks, as well as mobile internet and data services. AIS has about 45.51% market share.

The merger of DTAC and TrueMoveH (TRUE) created Thailand’s second-largest mobile operator, with a market share of about 52.92% in 2023. DTAC is known as one of the leading providers of data packages for tourists.

Before the merger, TrueMove was the third largest mobile operator in Thailand, but after the merger with DTAC, it became one of the most important players in the market.

In addition to the major operators, Thailand has a number of mobile virtual network operators (MVNOs) using the infrastructure of the major operators. Among the best known are National Telecom, Feels, Red One, Penguin SIM and I-KOOL 3G.

Thailand, considering other countries in the region, offers relatively good mobile Internet speeds, but ranks in the middle of the pack. The average download speed is 49.25 Mbps, and upload speed is 14.5 Mbps. The ping of 24 ms is close to the average across the Indochina region.

What is the speed of mobile Internet in Vietnam?

Vietnam’s mobile operator market is dominated by several major players that offer a wide range of telecommunications and Internet services. The largest operator is Viettel Telecom, known for its wide coverage and innovative 4G and 5G services. Vinaphone, the second-largest state-owned operator, also provides reliable mobile services, and Mobiphone, another state-owned player, stands out with attractive tariff plans and promotions. Vietnamobile, a private operator, focuses on urban markets and offers competitive prices and a variety of tariff plans, attracting younger users. Gmobile, the smallest of the major operators, mainly targets customers in smaller cities and rural areas with affordable services.

Vietnam’s average download speed is 45.18 Mbps, which allows for efficient Internet use and video streaming. The average upload speed, on the other hand, is 21.3 Mbps, one of the outstanding results in the region, allowing for fast file transfers. A ping of 23 ms ensures low latency, which is important for users of real-time applications.


Maps mobile internet quality and speed in Southeast Asia

Maciej Biegajewski

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