Malaysia MVNO Telco Business Ending

Waking up to a sudden message from Friendi Mobile Malaysia stating that they will be terminating their services by 15 August 2019 was another unpleasant surprise for me. Having lost my other MVNO Telco mobile service Tron by Talk Focus Sdn Bhd earlier in the year 2019 had not been a good experience. So that makes three telcos that I know so far that has closed down their business. Namely Buzzme by Mobile & Telco Sdn Bhd, TRON by Talk Focus Sdn Bhd and now Friendi Mobile by Ceres Telecom Sdn Bhd.

People asked me why I kept so many mobile lines and wasn’t it expensive to maintain them? I had several purposes: some were for my spare phones lying around, and to try out indirectly the network coverage and quality of the big telcos and one was for my maid to make IDD calls to Indonesia at a lower rate. To maintain those extra lines, I have to scout for the lowest rates and those were usually from the MVNO telcos. 

The usual rate for prepaid cards to maintain the phone service is RM1 per day. To keep the line active, that’s about RM365 per year. Some telcos has validity extension that costs something like RM30 for a year, plus minus. However the big three telcos (Celcom, Maxis Hotlink , DiGi) has started to phase this service out since some 2 years back. DiGi was one of the first to stop it, while all the new subscribers for Hotlink and Celcom will not enjoy the 365 validity extension service. I suppose they want to weed out the very light users.

So I ported my number out to TRON where for a mere RM10 top up I got a full one year validity. And ported another to Friendi for their lower IDD rates but only gets me 30 days validity for RM5 top up (they said minimum RM3 was sufficient, but all the convenience store only sold minimum top up for RM5). I suppose light users like me would not contribute much to their coffers.

I found an article outlining the smaller MVNO telco players has not been doing well. This article was published in 2017 showing them making loss. So it was a matter of time some of them would call it quits. I suppose when one fell, the others started falling like dominos. If I had known they were in such dire shape I would have reconsidered my option to port in to them.

Although a refund was offered for those who did not want to port out, I never received my refund at all after submitting my details. It was not a small amount as I had accumulated quite a fair amount due to underusage. It has been seven months already and not a cent from TRON. And there was no reply when I send them an email. Calling them didn’t work either. 

So when Friendi Mobile made the service termination announcement, I weren’t so keen to pursue for the refund and would try to use up the balance as much as possible within the next two weeks.

Now came the question of whether I should port out my number as it was somewhat unique with many repeating numbers of ones. I still had a bit of time to consider. However with not many viable prepaid plans that has validity extension I may just have to give up this number.

If I were to port out, my options are rather limited.

TuneTalk has a one year validity extension but it would cost a whopping RM100! They didn’t issue out the Buddies Tune Talk plan anymore which would cost RM28 for a one year validity extension. The Buddies plan would have been most viable for porting over I suppose.

The other alternative was to subscribe to RedOne postpaid which cost RM8.50 per month including the 6% SST tax. I could opt for the RedOne call commitment plan or the Amazing 8 1GB data plan.

Since Celcom has some shares in both TuneTalk and RedOne, I should think these MVNO telcos would have some financial stability for some years to come. Besides these two telcos also did heavy billboard advertising and promotion to capture some user base. So far my current experience with these two service has been good so far. Just take note the voice call quality of RedOne seemed rather muffled. Could be using a lower quality VOIP for connection in their bid to lower operating cost. 

On the other hand, it would just be better to let this line die out. I have more or less noted the reception quality of the riding telco in and around my area of residence and work. So I suppose there was no further need to hang on to the extra mobile line.

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