Postpaid competition intensifies with U Mobile's new plan
By Goh Thean Eu April 14, 2017
- Offers customers unlimited voice calls and data from RM38 a month
- The new plans may result in prepaid-to-postpaid migration
U Mobile chief marketing officer (first from left) Jasmine Lee and her team during the launch of a prepaid plan in February 2017
THE highly-competitive Malaysian telecommunications industry is now further intensified after U Mobile Sdn Bhd, the country's fourth largest mobile operator, introduced its new entry-level unlimited calls and data postpaid plans.
For RM38 a month, subscribers can sign up to the U Mobile Hero P38 plan -- which gives them unlimited voice calls (to all network), unlimited data for Facebok, Instagram, Twitter, music streaming and Waze. On top of that, the Hero P38 subscribers get a 4GB data quota.
"Like its predecessors, Hero P38 has no restrictions on when the calls and high speed data may be enjoyed -- so whether it is a weekday or weekend, regardless if you are on 2G, 3G or 4G network, you are getting the best value data experience out there as the postpaid plans starts from just RM38," said U Mobile in a statement yesterday.
On top of that, the company will be introducing another Hero postpaid plan called P48 coming Monday (April 17, 2017).
The soon-to-be-launched Hero P48 plan. It has all the features of the Hero P38 plan, but it comes with one additional benefit -- free 5GB data for video streaming. Also, the P48 customers will get 5GB of data quota (instead of 4GB of quota under the Hero P38 plan).
This means, U Mobile currently has the two cheapest postpaid plans that offers customers unlimited calls.
In comparison, Maxis offers unlimited calls (with 10GB of data, and another 10GB data for the weekend) for RM98 a month. Digi's cheapest plan that gives subscribers unlimited calls starts from RM80 a month (under the Digi Postpaid 80 plan that gives users 20GB of data, including 10GB of weekend data quota). A RM50 postpaid plan by Digi gives customers 10GB of data, but limits them to 100 minutes of voice calls.
Analysts expect other mobile operators to react over the next few weeks, as U Mobile's new plan could have a significant impact on the industry.
"Essentially, at such price point, it gives many prepaid users more reasons to migrate to postpaid," said a telecommunications analyst from a local bank-backed research house.
Based on data provided by the top three telcos, prepaid mobile subscribers in Malaysia are spending RM31-42 on average monthly. Celcom has the lowest prepaid average revenue per user at RM31 in Q4 2016, followed by Digi at RM34 and Maxis with a prepaid Arpu of RM42.
It is remain to be seen whether or not U Mobile's new plans will disrupt the big three players. This is because, U Mobile has been aggressively promoting many attractive packages in town. However, its impact to most of the top three telcos have been manageable.
For example: Maxis' managed to grow its net profit by 15.2% at RM2.01 billion in 2016 and a marginal 0.1% growth in revenue at RM8.61 billion. Digi's net profit fell by 5% at RM1.63 billion in 2016.
During the year (2016), the total postpaid subscriber base by the three telcos jumped 3.3% at 8.03 million.
Also, the impact may also be manageable should these incumbents decide to jump onto the bandwagon and started offering unlimited calls at a significantly lower price point (against their existing plans). This is because mobile users' habit has moved from voice-driven to data-driven.
Over the past few years, mobile users are spending less time talking on the phone, as they prefer to communicate via over-the-top messaging apps like WhatsApp. A check on Digi's data showed that its customers spent on average 179 minutes on voice calls monthly -- a 27% decline from the 248 minutes average two years ago.
Another analyst, who declined to be named, stressed that these marketing and promotional campaign can help U Mobile to only a certain extend.
"These campaigns can help draw customers, attract them to sign up, but what will ultimately make them stay for the long-term is the overall customer experience and network experience," he said.
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