Access to the Internet during a trip to a foreign country is essential these days. You need to stay online to contact family and friends at home, to check email, navigate the map,… 

To get Internet access internationally, you have different options, be it international roaming, WiFi pocket, tourist SIM cards, tourist eSIM,… Whatever option you choose, you may need to know about the top mobile operators in the country you are visiting so you can pick up the most suitable option for your trip.

If Malaysia is your upcoming destination, you surely want to know major mobile operators in Malaysia. 

Here, we will focus on the 4 largest mobile operators in Malaysia: Maxis (Hotlink), Celcom, Digi, and U Mobile. 

Now, let’s start!

mobile operators in malaysia

I. What is a mobile operator?

The mobile network operator (MNO) is a telephone service provider that offers mobile voice and data connectivity to mobile users.

They have their own system for connecting mobile users to each other and to other networks. They use special equipment and technology to make sure calls and messages can be sent and received.

Mobile network operators use base stations to connect to mobile phones. These stations have a limited range, so users need to be within that range or coverage cell to make calls or send messages. MNOs provide voice and data services, like texting, internet access, or video communications. 

II. How many mobile operators in Malaysia

1. 5 Main mobile operators in Malaysia

The 5 key players in The Malaysia telecommunications market are:

  • Celcom: 

Celcom is a mobile telecommunications company in Malaysia that has been around for 34 years. It was one of the first companies to bring mobile phones to the public, and it offers services like 2G, 3G, 4G, Fibre Broadband, and mobile satellite network. Celcom is part of the Axiata group of enterprises.

  • Maxis: 

Maxis is a company that offers different types of communication services to both individuals and businesses. They started operating in 1993 and have become one of the top providers of communication services in the country. Maxis is dedicated to being innovative, providing excellent customer service, and growing sustainably. They have a wide reach in both urban and rural areas and are committed to connecting people and businesses in Malaysia and other places.

  • Hotlink:

Maxis offers a popular service called Hotlink. With over 6.3 million users in Malaysia, it’s one of the most trusted mobile networks in the country. Hotlink was introduced by Maxis on October 19, 1999, and provides prepaid and postpaid plans, calls, and services to its customers. Both plans use 4G and LTE networks, which are faster than the older 3G network.

  • Digi:

Digi is a mobile service provider in Malaysia that launched its digital cellular network in 1995. Recently, Digi, Aciata, and Telenor agreed to potentially merge Celcom and Digi to create a stronger telco in Malaysia. If the merger is approved, it will be completed by the second quarter of 2022.

  • U Mobile:

U Mobile is a mobile network provider in Malaysia that was established in 1998 as MiTV Networks Sdn Bhd. It is a subsidiary of U Television Sdn Bhd and offers 4G LTE and 4G LTE-A networks to ensure fast internet browsing for its customers. The company uses the 018 and 011 prefixes that are assigned by the government’s communications and multimedia organization. U Mobile is a popular mobile network provider in Malaysia, with physical stores located throughout the country.

2. Top mobile virtual network operators (MVNO) in Malaysia

2.1 MVNOs of Celcom (as a host MNO)

  • Merchantrade (as Hello SIM)

Launched 2007, hosted by Celcom MNO. The target market is foreign migrant workers in Malaysia. Merchantrade aims to provide foreign workers segment in Malaysia with mobile and remittance services. 

Services: SMS, Multimedia messaging service (MMS), General Packet Radio Service (GPRS) and mobile content.

  • REDtone Mobile (Postpaid – includes BeONE): 

Launched in 2008, hosted by Celcom MNO. The target market is enterprise customers. REDtone Mobile aims to provide a one-stop supplier and service provider of total telco solutions that cater to corporate, SMI, SME and SOHO communities in Malaysia. 

Services: SMS, MMS, GPRS, and 3G technology.

  • Tune Talk (includes Halo Telco, SMART-i & Tone Excel): 

Hosted by Celcom. Target market is the mass market. Tune Talk aims to provide low cost Pan Asean MVNO. 

Services: prepaid voice and SMS.

  • XOX Mobile (Prepaid and postpaid): 

hosted by Celcom. Target market is the young Chinese market. aims to offer customers full-fledged services competitive with those from a mobile network operator. 

Services: Purchases through mobile devices, topup facilities, content and services offering a social networking element. Also in its suite of services is a feature that allows consumers to seamlessly access mobile web services through the web and on their mobile devices.

2.2 MVNOs of Digi (as a host MNO)

  • Mcalls
  • MY Evolution (M2M only)
  • speakOUT
  • tapp (digital sub-brand of Digi)

2.3 MVNOs of Maxis (as a host MNO)

Ansar Mobile (Prepaid arm of REDtone)

2.4 MVNOs of U Mobile (as a host MNO)


III. How to choose the right mobile operator in Malaysia for you?

Choosing a mobile network carrier in Malaysia can be tricky as each one claims to be the fastest. To avoid making the wrong choice, do your research on the benefits and drawbacks of each package. It is important to consider your location too, as not all networks work well in every area. Don’t be fooled by advertising – take the time to make an informed decision.

Below are what factors you should consider when choosing the right mobile network in Malaysia for your trip:

  • Network coverage and quality
  • Cost of services and plans
  • Speed and reliability of the Internet
  • Customer service and support

IV. Top 3 mobile operators in Malaysia for tourists with pros and cons

While there are multiple network providers in Malaysia, the four major players are currently ruling the telecommunications and internet market. They are Maxis (Hotlink), Celcom, Digi and U Mobile.  

Listed below is just a brief summary of each network provider, plus with pros and cons. All aim to help you decide the right mobile operator for you.

1. Celcom

Celcom is one of the leading mobile operators in Malaysia. It offers a wide range of services, including both prepaid and postpaid plans, as well as a variety of mobile devices and accessories.

In terms of coverage, Celcom has a strong presence in Malaysia, with its network covering more than 95% of the country’s population. The company operates on both 2G and 3G networks, as well as 4G LTE, which provides faster internet speeds and better connectivity.

Celcom’s 4G LTE network is one of the most extensive in Malaysia, covering both major cities and rural areas. This means that customers can enjoy high-speed internet access, even in remote locations.

Partnership: In addition to its own network, Celcom also has partnerships with other mobile operators in Malaysia, which allows its customers to roam on their networks when they are outside of Celcom’s coverage area.This ensures that customers can stay connected even when they are traveling to other parts of the country.

Market share: Celcom Axiata Berhad had a market share of approximately 29.7% in the Malaysian mobile operator market.

Popular prepaid offers

XPaxUnlimited calls to all networks20GB high-speed internet + 10GB Facebook & InstagramUnlimited SMS to all networks
Celcom MegaUnlimited calls to all networks 30GB high-speed internet + 30GB Video Walla Unlimited SMS to all networks
Celcom Ultra Unlimited calls to all networks50GB high-speed internet + 100GB Video WallaUnlimited SMS to all networks
Celcom Mega LightningUnlimited calls to all networks40GB high-speed internet + 40GB Video WallaUnlimited SMS to all networks 


  • Wide network coverage across Malaysia, including rural areas
  • Offers a variety of postpaid and prepaid plans to suit different needs and budgets
  • Provides good value for money with attractive promotions and discounts
  • Has a user-friendly mobile app for easy account management and bill payment
  • Offers high-speed internet connectivity with 4G and 5G technology


  • Customer service can be slow and unresponsive at times
  • Some plans have hidden fees and charges that can be confusing for customers
  • Data speeds can be slow during peak hours or in crowded areas
  • International roaming rates can be expensive compared to other operators
  • Limited options for international call and SMS packages.

2. Digi

Digi is a mobile operator in Malaysia that provides reliable and affordable mobile services. They offer a wide range of services, including voice calls, messaging, data plans, and mobile internet. Digi has a large coverage area across Malaysia.

For tourists, Digi provides special packages that offer affordable international roaming rates and data plans. They also have a mobile app that allows customers to manage their accounts, check their balance, and purchase additional services.

In terms of pricing, Digi offers competitive rates compared to other mobile operators in Malaysia. They have a range of plans to suit different budgets and needs, making it easy for customers to find the right plan for them. Overall, Digi is a reliable and affordable mobile operator that provides excellent coverage and services to its customers in Malaysia.

Partnership: Digi mobile operator in Malaysia has several partnerships with various companies and organizations, such as Grab, Lazada, Shopee, Samsung, Huawei, CIMB Bank, Tune Talk.

Market share: Digi had a market share of 26.5% in Malaysia.

Popular prepaid offers 

Digi Prepaid Live Unlimited Calls to all networks10GB (5GB all-day + 5GB Weekend) Unlimited SMS to all networks 
Digi Prepaid Best300 minutes to all networks8GB (4GB all-day + 4GB Weekend) Unlimited SMS to all networks
Digi Prepaid Next 30sen/min to all networks3GB (2GB all-day + 1GB Weekend)SMS to all networks
Digi Prepaid LiVE BestUnlimited Calls to all network15GB (5GB all-day + 10GB Weekend) Unlimited SMS to all networks 


  • Digi offers affordable prepaid and postpaid plans with various data packages to choose from.
  • The network coverage is quite extensive, especially in urban areas.
  • Digi offers a loyalty program called MyDigi Rewards where customers can earn points and redeem them for rewards.
  • The customer service is generally efficient and helpful.
  • Digi offers various value-added services such as music streaming and mobile games.


  • The network coverage can be spotty in some rural areas.
  • Digi’s internet speed can be slower compared to other operators.
  • Digi’s customer service can be inconsistent at times.
  • Some customers have reported issues with billing and unexpected charges.
  • Digi’s international roaming plans can be quite expensive.

Maxis is a popular mobile operator in Malaysia, providing extensive coverage across the country. It offers a variety of services, including voice calls, messaging, and data plans. For tourists, Maxis provides affordable prepaid SIM cards with attractive data packages, making it easy to stay connected while exploring Malaysia. The company also offers international roaming services for those traveling abroad. In terms of pricing, Maxis is competitive with other operators in Malaysia, offering a range of plans to suit different budgets and needs. Overall, Maxis is a reliable and convenient choice for locals and visitors alike, with a strong focus on customer satisfaction and innovation.

Partnership of Maxis mobile operator in Malaysia: Maxis has partnered with various companies in Malaysia including Huawei, Nokia, Ericsson, and Samsung to provide high-quality mobile network coverage to over 11 million subscribers.

Market share: Maxis had a market share of 27.5% in the mobile telecommunications sector in Malaysia.

Popular prepaid offers 

Hotlink Prepaid30sen/min10GB 30sen/SMS 
Hotlink REDUnlimited calls 15GB30sen/SMS
Hotlink SUPERRR20sen/min10GB20sen/SMS
Hotlink Postpaid FlexPay-per-use3GB Pay-per-use 


  • Wide network coverage across Malaysia
  • Offers various postpaid and prepaid plans to cater to different needs and budgets
  • Provides attractive promotions and discounts for new and existing customers
  • Good customer service with a user-friendly mobile app and website
  • Fast internet speed and stable connection for data usage


  • Prices of plans can be slightly higher compared to other mobile operators in Malaysia
  • Limited international roaming options and high charges for roaming
  • Limited customer service support during weekends and public holidays
  • Some customers have reported issues with network congestion during peak hours
  • Limited availability of physical stores for customer support and service

VI. Malaysia mobile network operators comparisons

CriteriaMaxisCelcomHotlinkDigiU Mobile
Network coverageWide coverage with 4G/LTEWide coverage with 4G/LTE Good coverage with 4G/LTEGood coverage with 4G/LTELimited coverage with 4G/LTE 
Internet speedFast 4G/LTE internet speedFast 4G/LTE internet speedGood 4G/LTE internet speedGood 4G/LTE internet speedAverage 4G/LTE internet speed
Voice qualityGood voice qualityGood voice qualityGood voice qualityGood voice qualityAverage voice quality
Customer serviceGood customer serviceGood customer serviceAverage customer serviceAverage customer serviceGood customer service
International roamingGood international roaming packages Good international roaming packagesGood international roaming packages | Good international roaming packagesGood international roaming packages 

To conclude:

  • Network coverage: Maxis and Celcom have the widest coverage with 4G/LTE, making them the winners in this category.
  • Internet speed: Maxis and Celcom offer fast 4G/LTE internet speed, making them the winners in this category.
  • Voice quality: Maxis, Celcom, Hotlink, and Digi offer good voice quality, making them the winners in this category.
  • Price: Hotlink, Digi, and U Mobile offer affordable prices, making them the winners in this category.
  • Customer service: Maxis and Celcom offer good customer service, making them the winners in this category.
  • International roaming: Maxis, Celcom, and Digi offer good international roaming packages, making them the winners in this category.

Overall, Maxis and Celcom are the top performers in this comparison, offering the widest coverage, fast internet speed, good voice quality, and good customer service. However, Hotlink, Digi, and U Mobile offer more affordable prices, making them a good choice for those on a budget. For more about eSIM plans, please visit