Mobile Broadband Vs Fibre Broadband: Which Should You Choose?

PropertyGuru Editorial Team
Mobile Broadband Vs Fibre Broadband: Which Should You Choose?
Do you remember the heartache of waiting for the internet to load and connect during the ‘90s? Once connected, it could then take forever just to load an image or a video!
Well, gone are the days when internet connection relied on a dial-up system, with that iconic sharp beeping/screeching sound.
All we see and hear today is wireless broadband. Whether on mobile phones, desktop PCs, laptops, or tablets, it is almost impossible to see them functioning without access to the internet.
The Minister of Communications and Multimedia even said that access to internet facilities must be considered a human right apart from basic necessities such as clothing, food, and shelter!
Not only that, but since the COVID-19 pandemic hit the world the past two years, the majority of us were homebound to work, learn, and entertain ourselves.
Consequently, many have come to realise how essential it is to own a faster, smoother, and more stable internet connection.
mobile broadband malaysia, fibre broadband malaysia
Since everything in this digital era is about speed, many Internet Service Providers (ISPs) have lined up multiple broadband options for homeowners to choose from, depending on personal internet usage.
The two most popular types are fibre broadband and mobile broadband, which we will discuss in more detail later.

PropertyGuru Tip

According to Investopedia, an Internet service provider (ISP) is a company that provides web access to both businesses and consumers. ISPs may also provide other services such as email services, domain registration, web hosting, and browser services. More advanced technology has been developed by ISPs to provide consumers with high-speed internet access via broadband technology, through cable and digital subscriber line (DSL) modems.

Before you decide on a plan, let’s find out what exactly are those fibre and mobile broadband connections, the pros and cons, and the important factors you should consider when choosing an ideal ISP.

What Is Fibre Broadband?

The name ‘fibre broadband’ comes from the type of cables that it uses to transmit the broadband signal, which is fibre-optic cables.
It is known to be faster because the cables can withstand a much higher volume of data transfer.
mobile broadband malaysia, fibre broadband malaysia
With fibre broadband, the data is transferred in light form and speed through the cables, which are reflective on the inside (where data bounces off on the inner walls). It is that light form that makes it faster!
The installation of fibre-optic cables is different depending on the type of property. If you’re in a landed property, the cables will be connected directly into your homes, and then to a wireless router.
However, if you’re living in a high-rise building, a main fibre-optic cable will first be installed at a designated place of the building, before being connected to each unit via a Very fast Digital Subscriber Line (VDSL).
Subscribing to fibre broadband would usually come in different packages of different speeds (Mbps or Gbps), and usually would come with a telephone line and other added products, such as IPTVs or home phones.

PropertyGuru Tip

Broadband speeds are measured in megabits per second (Mbps) or gigabits per second (Gbps). Your need will depend highly on your usage and the number of people you share the connection with. To give you a better picture of the speed size, these are the equivalent relations:

  • 1 kilobit = 1,000 bits
  • 1 megabit = 1,000 kilobits (or 1 million bits)
  • 1 gigabit = 1,000 megabits (or 1 billion bits)

How Is Mobile Broadband Different From Fibre Broadband?

mobile broadband malaysia, fibre broadband malaysia
Mobile broadband is also known as wireless broadband for mobile. This is just like the one used on your mobile phone when connecting to the internet using mobile data.
Unlike fibre broadband that has a physical line (or wire) installed and connected to a router, mobile broadband provides internet connection via wireless networks through the use of wireless routers, USB modems, and other mobile devices.
Internet connection via mobile broadband uses practically the same 4G network as handphones, only without the calling or messaging functions. Similarly, this type of broadband uses a SIM card to connect users to the internet.
Mobile broadband packages are typically offered as data plans – that is, by the amount of data (1GB, 10GB, 20GB, etc. per month) as opposed to the speed.

What Are The Pros And Cons Of Both Types Of Broadbands?

Fibre broadband is connected via a fixed-line, and in Malaysia, the fixed-line is almost always connected to a telephone landline.
This would make installation more complex than having mobile broadband. Mobile broadbands are usually preferred by those on the move as it is typically a much smaller modem that connects to different devices immediately.
mobile broadband malaysia, fibre broadband malaysia
However, because mobile broadband uses wireless networks instead of a fixed-line, connection to the internet highly depends on the area coverage of the ISPs.
Distance from the service tower, network congestion, even the weather could also impact the speed and stability of internet connection.
A fibre broadband on the other hand could prove to be more stable and is less affected by external factors – although speed is also affected by network traffic.
As most of our transactions have been moved online since the pandemic hit, there’s also the question of security.
Fibre broadband is considered more secure; while mobile broadband is more prone to interferences and overloading.
Having said that, we will look into the pros and cons based on three different criteria, as listed in the table below:
  • Installers have to drill walls to install fibre-optic wires.
  • More devices involved such as landline phones, routers, and modems.
  • Higher maintenance (plugged-in devices and wires/cables).
  • Fixed to one location.
  • Smaller, portable modems that allow connection wherever there’s a signal.
  • Lower maintenance (plug-and-play type, just need to take care of the device).
  • Portable.
Stability and speed
More stable:
  • Much less affected by weather; can handle a heavier load.
Speed is dependent on:
  • Package subscription
  • Network congestion
Stability and speed are highly dependable on:
  • Area coverage
  • Weather
  • Distance from cell towers
  • Network congestion
  • Data transferred through electromagnetic waves are more prone to interferences and overloading
More secure due to the nature of data transfer in light form and at light speed, therefore less prone to be tapped into.

Choosing The Broadband Provider and Package

mobile broadband malaysia, fibre broadband malaysia
When choosing a broadband type and its package, here are a few things to take into consideration.

1) Type of property

Most of the newly built high-rises are now equipped with fibre broadband connected to a central server, typically from one ISP. After moving into a unit and contacting the ISP, you can activate a package almost immediately.
It might be better to opt for fibre broadband in high-rise buildings, as mobile broadband signals could be weaker and less stable.

2) Coverage

It is important to note that not all residential areas are equipped with fibre-optic cables to cater to fibre broadbands. Which would mean the next best thing is mobile broadband.
When opting for mobile broadband, it is advisable to look into telcos’ area coverage. There are times when one telco service is stable in one area, but not in another area.
For example, U-Mobile has a more stable signal in Gombak, but not in Telok Panglima Garang. To obtain more accurate information on the coverage, you can always contact the potential telco to find out directly.
*Disclaimer: The condition of the signal is based on personal experience. It might vary depending on the package chosen and the exact location.

3) Contract terms

mobile broadband malaysia, fibre broadband malaysia
Different types of broadband offer different packages. The main difference between mobile and fibre broadband is: Mobile packages usually offer data packages with limited speed, while fibre broadband offers constant speed packages.
There are also mobile contracts which allow for a shorter-term, as compared to fibre broadband, and involve fewer add-ons such as IPTV packages and other devices.

4) Overall household data usage

To ensure a smooth and reliable connection to the internet, it is also wise to review the household’s internet usage, i.e., the number of devices, type of internet activities, etc.
Fibre broadband would be considered preferable when more people are using the internet at the same time, or if the internet activities are considered heavy such as streaming and playing online games.
Mobile broadbands could appeal to those who are not using too much internet – or if you’re looking to reduce screen time.

Who Are The Internet Service Providers In Malaysia?

Most ISPs in Malaysia are now offering both fibre and mobile broadband packages for homeowners to choose from.
mobile broadband malaysia, fibre broadband malaysia
Some household names include packages from Telekom Malaysia’s (TM) Unifi, TIME Broadband, Maxis, Digi, Celcom, and YES Broadband.
We’ve compiled some of their packages and their monthly subscription prices (information is accurate as at time of writing):
  • 30Mbps (RM89) (Internet only)
  • 100Mbps (RM129) (Internet only)
  • 300Mbps (RM199) (with unifiTV)
  • 500Mbps (RM249) (with Mesh wifi and unifiTV)
  • 800Mbps (RM349) (with Mesh wifi and unifiTV)
unifi Air (RM79)
  • Comes with SIM only or SIM + router
  • Unlimited data at 20Mbps
  • 100Mpbs (RM99)
  • 500Mbps (RM139)
  • 1Gbps (RM199)
Not available
  • 30Mbps (RM89)
  • 100Mbps (RM129)
  • 300Mbps (RM149)
  • Unlimited data
  • 30Mbps (RM80)
  • 100Mbps (RM120)
  • 300Mbps (RM140)
  • 500Mbps (RM200)
  • Family Lite 100GB Internet Quota (RM100)
  • Family Ultimate 300GB Internet Quota (RM139)
  • 50Mbps (RM75)
  • 100Mbps (RM100)
  • 500Mbps (RM100)
  • 500Mbps (RM140)
  • 800Mbps (RM220)
  • 1Gbps (RM240)
Not available
YES Broadband
Not available
  • Broadband modem provided with postpaid plans starting from RM45 (50GB) for On-The-Go and RM68 (70GB) for Home Broadband

Extra Tips Just For All The Internet Users Out There!

While it is tempting to get the highest speed or the most data quota at the cheapest price, it could be worthwhile to follow these tips to get the most out of your Ringgit.

1) Review your household size

mobile broadband malaysia, fibre broadband malaysia
Before COVID-19 and the multiple lockdown restrictions, a household could have easily and sufficiently survived on a 100Mbps package.
However, looking at the number of people per household on top of the number of devices connected to single broadband, you might want to consider opting for a higher speed and/or a larger data quota.

2) Survey with your neighbours

Whether you have stayed in your residential area for many years or have just moved into a new place, it would not hurt to ask around for recommendations.
Your neighbours and yourself would be able to share first-hand experience on the coverage, and other pros and cons of different ISPs and telcos. Plus, it’s always a good thing to get to know your neighbours!

3) Check ISP coverage

Before fully deciding on subscribing to any package or plan, we highly recommend you to look up the coverage your ISP is providing.
All the websites of the telcos are equipped with a map or tracker for you to get that first assessment on whether a particular ISP has enough coverage in your area.

4) Directly contact ISPs

mobile broadband malaysia, fibre broadband malaysia
When there is not enough information that could give you the push you need to subscribe to either a mobile or fibre broadband, the next step is to directly contact the ISPs.
Ask their customer service about all the available products and services, plus you could even ask about what might be best for your house.
Rather than choosing an ISP based on popularity, it’s best to find one that is well-received in your neighbourhood and your household needs.
You don’t want to accidentally choose the wrong plan or package that you end up overpaying and underusing!
At the end of the day, subscribing to the best package for your home would mean everyone getting their work and classes done more efficiently, and being able to destress afterwards with entertainment more smoothly.
Relevant Guides:
Disclaimer: The information is provided for general information only. PropertyGuru International (Malaysia) Sdn Bhd makes no representations or warranties in relation to the information, including but not limited to any representation or warranty as to the fitness for any particular purpose of the information to the fullest extent permitted by law. While every effort has been made to ensure that the information provided in this article is accurate, reliable, and complete as of the time of writing, the information provided in this article should not be relied upon to make any financial, investment, real estate or legal decisions. Additionally, the information should not substitute advice from a trained professional who can take into account your personal facts and circumstances, and we accept no liability if you use the information to form decisions.