What You Should Know About The 3G Network Shut Down In Malaysia

JENDELA 3G network shut down

During the lockdowns due to the pandemic, Malaysia as a country had to shift to a remote learning and working environment. But having to do this made us realize a bitter truth, that Malaysia is not equipped with the telecommunication infrastructure to ensure that every student is able to keep up with their education online.

This made the government realize that something needs to be done. Which is why the government has launched the Jalinan Digital Negara (JENDELA), a comprehensive programme intended to ensure that the whole country has 4G (fourth generation) coverage.

Basically, shutting down the 3G (third generation) network will free up resources for telco providers to ramp up 4G coverage. Here’s what you should know about the JENDELA programme.

How does the JENDELA Initiative affect you?

First, let’s have a look at what really constitutes the JENDELA Plan.

In the simplest of terms, the JENDELA Plan involves upgrading the network that Malaysia already has, and making sure that the nation’s telecommunication network provides 4G connection to everyone around the country.

According to the official JENDELA website, one of JENDELA’s ultimate goals is to improve 4G coverage from 91.8% to 96.9% across Malaysia.

But the way they’re executing the JENDELA plan, also involves sunsetting the current 3G network.

What does sunsetting the current 3G network mean? It means exactly what it sounds like. The JENDELA Initiative is retiring all the 3G networks in Malaysia, and replacing it with 4G networks.

Doesn’t sound like a big deal? Actually, it isn’t. But, for someone who’s using 3G only devices, this means that when the JENDELA Initiative is executed fully, there won’t be any 3G network for you to connect on. In layman terms, you can’t text, make calls, or even call emergency services after December 31 this year if your mobile phone is only on 3G network.

What do I do if I’m using a 3G device?

According to the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC), all 3G networks across Malaysia are poised to be retired by the end of 2021.

This means that if you or your family members are on a 3G device such as phone and broadband, you won’t be able to access the 3G network anymore when 2022 rolls around.

“Users who still own SIM cards that only support the 3G network are advised to contact their service providers immediately to upgrade to 4G to prevent any inconvenience,” MCMC had stated in its advisory on the 3G network shutdown.

Users of 3G devices are recommended to upgrade to a 4G device as soon as possible, to ensure that you will not be impacted by the sunsetting of the 3G networks.

What if I don’t want to upgrade? Does this mean my 3G device will be useless?

If for some reason you don’t want to upgrade your 3G devices to a 4G device, don’t worry. Your 3G device will still be usable, but now it will only connect to the 2G network.

According to the Maxis FAQs, users who are still on non-4G devices might face network congestion as they will be connected to non-4G networks.

The network congestion will be dependent on the total users as well as current network capacity.

However, if you’re using a 3G only device, this means that your device will not connect to the 2G network, and that device will be unusable once the retirement of the 3G networks is carried out.

In this case, you are recommended to upgrade to a 4G device as soon as possible, to ensure minimal interruptions.

How do I upgrade my 3G device?

All you have to do is contact your telco provider. They will suggest for you a suitable 4G device to upgrade to, according to your needs.

Among the initiatives to help Malaysians’ transition to the 4G network include the following:

  • Malaysian Family Youth Package. Open to eligible students to buy data packages at more affordable rates to access the internet. Eligible students can refer to their respective service provider for more details.
  • Malaysian Family Device Package. Open to eligible Malaysians to own or upgrade to mobile devices and Voice over Long-Term Evolution (VoLTE) for free with a monthly subscription fee. This VoLTE technology allows users to enjoy calls on 4G networks.
  • Jaringan Prihatin Network Programme. For eligible Malaysians from the B40 group to own smartphones or enjoy the broadband internet plan through device package and data plan rebates.

What about areas that only receive 3G coverage?

One of the biggest worries revolving around the JENDELA plan is what happens to those remote and secluded areas, which only have 3G networks? Are they just left for dead in the water once the 3G network is retired?

Well for that, you don’t have to worry. The JENDELA Plan and the sunsetting of the 3G networks are done in phases, which means that the 4G coverage in your area will be stabilised before the 3G networks are retired.

So, if you’re one of those who live in areas with only 3G coverage, don’t worry. Your network will be upgraded sooner or later.

According to data from Open Signal, 4G availability has grown past 80% for all regions in the one year since the launch of JENDELA.

Helping Malaysians to stay connected

In the end, the JENDELA initiative is a much-needed plan to ensure that even during a pandemic, none of our schoolchildren will be missing out on their education.

For our nation to move forward as a developed country, the JENDELA Plan is a very welcome initiative, to help all Malaysians to stay connected, and be able to work, study or enjoy entertainment all online, even in the smallest village or rural farm far from the city.

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