Maxis built its reputation in Malaysia from the mobile telecommunications industry and today has grown to almost ten million subscribers. It is relatively new to the broadband scene, only offering their Fibre Broadband since 2011. On average I feel that Maxis broadband serves as a sort of middle ground between TM and TIME, although it does suffer similar limited coverage as the latter. Learn more.
Maxis Broadband Review: 6 Pros & 4 Cons of Signing Up with Maxis
November 28, 2019
Maxis has traditionally been a mobile telecommunications stalwart in Malaysia despite numerous complaints about their premium pricing. However, these complaints should be taken with a pinch of salt as they also offer the most stable and broad coverage in the country.
As a Maxis user of over 20 years I have also dabbled with Celcom, Digi and [email protected] and find not just Maxis lines better, but also coming with much better customer service. You might be wondering why this is important, but to me it is indicative of the culture of doing business within the company.
Coming late to the broadband scene, Maxis entered the game in early 2011 and has been growing strongly since then. I am not entirely surprised because if you’ve got a good product and support team, you are bound to prosper in most cases.
Coming late to the game also allowed it to bring the advantage of learning from its competitor’s mistakes. To its advantage over TM, Maxis is also a commercial entity and doesn’t have to give in to government demands for national coverage at any cost. This has allowed it to follow a commercial viability plan like that of Time dotCOM.
For those eager to get into the pros and cons of Maxis broadband, bear with me just a little longer. Remember when I mentioned that Maxis came to the fore in the mobile telecommunications industry? 5G is a technology that is currently being field tested already and may be a game-changer for the Malaysian broadband market as well as Maxis.
With a speed potential of up to 10Gbps, Maxis will have a much bigger lead in that market as compared to other service providers in the country. It has the experience and I am sure the incentive to roll out any necessary 5G infrastructure quickly in Malaysia.
With that, let’s look at the advantages and disadvantages of signing on for Maxis Fibre Broadband.
6 Things We Like About Maxis Broadband
1. Up to 800Mbps Speed
In terms of speed it would be more realistic to compare Maxis Fibre with TM because of the speeds they both have available. This is an interesting case study because of the availably of speeds for new sign-ups. TM has made an unusual decision to keep it’s ultra-high-speed broadband plans of 800Mbps for existing high-end customer upgrades with their Unifi Turbo policy. Because of that, the highest speeds available for new TM customers is 300Mbps.
Maxis on the other hand is offering speeds ranging from 30Mbps to 800Mbps for all customers. I’m not quite sure why this is, since they are both using the same infrastructure and can only guess that Maxis has purchased enough bandwidth from TM to support their customers.
Because of TM’s Unifi Turbo policy, Maxis is now in second place behind TIME in terms of available speed in the market (among widely available carriers). At this point of time I consider 500Mbps to 800Mbps the ‘sweet spot’ that is ideal for the domestic market.
Most affordable consumer equipment at this moment simply isn’t readily available here to push speeds higher than that over WiFi.
There is another point I should make about Maxis here though that may be a little unrelated to speed. Traditionally, Maxis has always been a little overzealous about guarding data quotas. Although they have stated that they do not have a quota on data transfer using their fibre broadband lines, I can’t help but be guarded given their blanket “Fair Usage Policy”.
While this may not affect anyone other than P2P users, it might be something that you might want to keep an eye on if that is your ultimate goal.
2. Competitively Priced
In terms of pricing, Maxis has managed to maintain prices steadily below TM despite it paying for the use of TM’s high-speed broadband (HSBB) infrastructure. This is even more clear as we go up towards the higher speed plans ranging from 300Mbps to 800Mbps.
Since TM doesn’t have anything above 300Mbps for the time being (for new sign ups), comparing Maxis 300Mbps at RM149 versus TM 300Mbps at RM199 is around a 25% difference in pricing! While I understand that TM is forced to rollout HSBB to commercially unviable areas to support government initiatives, nobody said it had to take those fees out of the hides of consumers.
Maxis has seemingly priced itself out of the running against TIME since it charges quite a bit more. However, since it has the potential to expand more significantly, I am guessing that neither TM nor Maxis see them as much of a competitor in the long run and aren’t concerned about their current pricing.
Currently, Maxis appears to be the provider most competitively priced in the market and that is also relatively widely available (and expanding).
3. You Get Free Mesh WiFi Equipment
If you sign up for Maxis Fibre you get the traditional free Broadband Terminal Unit (BTU) which TM and TIME also provide. However, if you get on the Maxis 500Mbps and above plans you get two free units of Mesh WiFi devices.
* Graphical overview of how Mesh WiFi overlaps to extend wireless range (Source: Linksys)
Most broadband carriers will usually give away a free wireless router which is standard. Mesh WiFI devices on the other hand are usually more expensive as they are designed to work with multiple units. The theory is that they join wireless signals to cover the home in a ‘Mesh’ giving proper coverage at all areas.
As far as I know the units on offer by Maxis are the Air 4830 which are available locally at a price of roughly RM300 per unit.
Next, we come to the … logic (?) of this giveaway. Again, these Mesh units are given on plans of 500Mbps and above – but they are only capable of supporting an AC2000 standard. I know that theoretically this means they are able to handle 2000Mbps speeds, but as we know, theory is far from reality in the case of WiFi.
The major plus point with this free gear is that Mesh is designed to handle large coverage areas. This means that if you are living in a bungalow or even a two-storey terrace, you can get upstairs/downstairs coverage with no problems at all. In short, you’re overlooking speed for a wide coverage area. Given how highly mobile most of us are nowadays this can be a pretty good thing.
The downside to this free equipment proviso is that those who are on the lower plans don’t even get a cheap router to use. This means that if you apply for Maxis Fibre on a low-end plan and want WiFi to share the connection at home, you’re going to have to spend your own money on a router.
While it may be true that a useable router will only set you back maybe RM150 to RM200 or so, that is still money out of your pocket.
4. Mobile and Broadband Combined Plans Available
Personally, I think this is the most interesting facet of considering a plan from Maxis. Again, going back to their history as a mobile telecommunications company, it doesn’t come as surprising that Maxis is offering a combined all-in-one plan that spans home and mobile.
Dubbed Maxis One PRIME, it allows for unlimited data, calls and SMS along with new mobile devices based on their Zerolution concept and home internet as well as roaming! That is seriously one powerful combination.
At least until you realize that you must pay for each of those components as an add-on service and the price blows your mind away. However, it is still a fantastic concept and if they could combine it all into a more affordable package, I am sure it will be more interesting.
To combine entry level mobile and broadband plans together will see you being completely broadband, and voice covered for around RM187 per month, plus tax. Not exactly the cheapest of solutions.
5. Free Voice Line & Calls
For those who are finding it difficult to wean themselves off TM because they are a traditional residential phone provider, Maxis has you covered. All Maxis broadband plans come with a free voice line included. However, calls made on those lines are not free for their 30Mbps plans – they cost 9 cent a minute (to landline or mobiles locally).
For those who subscribe to plans of 100Mbps and above you can call to your heart’s content as you get unlimited local calling credits.
6. No Forced IPTV Fees
Unlike TM, Maxis Fibre broadband is just broadband. You aren’t forced to pay more for frills that likely will not be used such as IPTV or the like. To me this is great since we get to choose what we really need and not pay for incidentals which we have no choice over.
If you’re not paying for IPTV at roughly RM20 to RM30 a month, that is an annual savings to the tune of hundreds of Ringgits per year! Much better the money be spent on something you really need, right?
What We Didn’t Like About Maxis Broadband
1. Based on TM Backbone
From their initial agreement for Maxis to lease backbone infrastructure from TM we know that they are basically using the same pipelines in the country. This may be a purely commercial move from Maxis as they are likely to be paying through their teeth for the bandwidth, but it unfortunately also associates them with service downtimes that TM suffers from.
There have been numerous complaints of service outages associated with both TM and Maxis which non-coincidentally occur at the same time. Even more unfortunately is the fact that because Maxis is merely leasing the line – it can’t really do anything about it and must depend on TM technicians to repair any line faults.
This is changing though, as they are building their own infrastructure as part of their Next Generation broadband plans and are working with developers to ensure that future developments will be Maxis broadband ready.
2. Poor Customer Service for Broadband
To be honest, this was a bit of a surprise for me as well. Having been a long-time Maxis (mobile) customer, I have at times felt frustrated by them but certainly not overly so. I have always felt that they have an excellent customer service department which at times even bent backwards to accommodate my requests.
However, I seem to find a disproportionately large number of their users complaining about their broadband service, which I can only assume is under an entirely separate technical service department. In fact, even their installation process for home broadband has come under fire at times.
More details are available in the “Maxis Fibre Customer Comments” segment below.
3. Similar Equipment to TM
Aside from sharing the same infrastructure backbone there have also been reports that Maxis is using the same BTU as TM. This is not something that’s naturally bad, but it is more of a red flag to me. Using the same equipment as TM gives me the impression that Maxis has not gone into the broadband business with its eyes wide open.
As we know, TM has long had complaints about their sub-par equipment including the lousy routers and phones they provide. Maxis, as a leading telco is usually better than that. One look at the mobile devices available under their Zerolution plan should tell you that they only deal with the best.
Hence to throw in their lot and use the same BTU as TM seems a little sloppy for them. One good thing though is that they are providing Mesh WiFi routers to their higher-end plan users, which is slightly more encouraging.
If you’re planning on getting a plan below 500Mbps though, you’re on your own and get nothing.
4. Limited Coverage Areas
Again, Maxis comes as a kind of in-betweener here. They can provide mobile broadband plans to many customers thanks to their massive 4G infrastructure rollout across much of Malaysia. It is, after all, their core business, right?
Some would say that this does supplement their home fibre plans well, but to me, mobile broadband and fixed broadband are entirely different beasts. If you are a high-bandwidth user like me, you will cry if forced to rely on mobile broadband.
There is hope on the horizon though as they are currently testing 5G on their network. Unfortunately, it will take time and cost to roll out. Ultimately it is likely that 5G will be even more limited in coverage scope compared to 4G, which limits its usefulness somewhat to Maxis’ broadband future.
Maxis Broadband Review: What Did They Say?
Surprising to me as it is, the public has spoken and spoken loudly. Customers around Malaysia have taken to public social media channels and many seem to believe Maxis Broadband is… subpar. From long installation dates and rude agents all the way to slow technical fault recovery, there seem to be complaints about many aspects of their broadband service.
The above comments were noted on the Lowyat.net Maxis thread as well as the Maxis Twitter accounts and you will be able to find many more similar in nature if you follow those threads. However, the bigger issue seems to be the fact that for a provider that is limited in scale like Maxis Fibre, their customer complaints seem to be disproportionate in volume.
For example, if there were a ton of complaints about TM Unifi, that would be more justifiable as they serve broadband to the entire nation. Maxis broadband is very much more rural-congregated, like TIME which does not face this same issue on such a scale.
Maxis Broadband Plans & Pricing
Maxis has broadband for both residential and broadband even though their coverage areas are limited. Pricing on both residential and business plans are extremely competitive in nature, especially if you consider what they must pay TM to use their infrastructure.
Residential broadband plans for Maxis range in price between RM89 per month all the way to RM299. This prices them way competitively with most TM plans. Their pricing is still a little above what TIME has on offer but that is to be expected since they do not own the infrastructure their fibre broadband is based on.
Again, be advised that Maxis home fibre isn’t widely available. If you’re still interested you can visit their website and use the tool they provide to check for coverage. As a rule of thumb, suffice to say that most coverage by them is in highly populated areas.
Their business broadband plans are one area where Maxis really shines as they are offering much higher line speeds than the main competition. They have speed of up to 800Mbps for offices as compared to TIME and TM whose business plans top out at 100Mbps.
To add to that, their pricing for business plans are also excellent, with 100Mbps costing only RM139 per month whereas TM charges RM349 and TIME charges RM348. My guess is that the latter two are much less familiar and not keen to dabble in these environments.
Maxis on the other hand had been a corporate stalwart for many years and has extensive experience doing business with, well, businesses.
Conclusion: Is Maxis Broadband Worth Getting?
If you are a big fan of consolidating all your accounts into one big, easy to manage package, then maxis might be the right solution for you. However, they are much more limited in availability than TM products and in the case of broadband, seem entirely too unreliable.
This would be compounded for businesses who can’t really afford any downtime. However, for business users they also offer the highest broadband speeds available at very reasonable prices, so you’ll have to judge if the potential trade-off is worth it to you.
5G might be a light at the end of the tunnel, but I can’t see Maxis broadband progressing much further past this point unless they are willing to go the whole mile and invest in their own fixed broadband infrastructure. Piggybacking on TM can’t be commercially viable in the long run.
The biggest question with Maxis now lies not in 5G nor its alliance with TM but how far it will be willing to extend its Next Generation broadband initiative which will see it owning more of its own broadband infrastructure.
This coupled by their learning process in managing a broadband network does give them the potential to become a major player in the local market. For now, not so much.