[Review] Maxis’ New #Hotlink: Can mobile internet really be free?

New #Hotlink
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Luno

Just several weeks ago, Maxis unveiled the new #Hotlink, a re-think and re-boot of its prepaid service. The new #Hotlink is the nation’s first and only prepaid plan that gives users continuous free basic internet. Yes, free internet. Anytime, anywhere. I took the new prepaid plan to the test.

What’s free basic internet?

Free basic internet simply means throttled data access that covers popular apps like WhatsApp, Facebook, Twitter and Google. As long as the prepaid plan is active, users get free basic internet access at 64Kbps. There are caveats, which we’ll explore in a bit.


What else?
The new #Hotlink offers low flat rates of 12 sen per 30 seconds for voice calls and 7 sen per SMS to ALL networks.

The prepaid plan also rewards users with 8% free airtime every 2 months, based on users’ cumulative top-up amounts. Not only that, users’ stand to gain other rewards via the new Hotlinks Rewards Program.

#Hotlink also offers the lowest IDD rates with IDD132 to Top 10 countries.

The new #Hotlink also supports data roaming to other countries although a minimum credit balance of RM10 is required.

Users can opt to subscribe to Mobile Internet Passes which provide flexible Daily, Weekly or Monthly data plans. With these passes, users will enjoy high speed mobile internet access of up to 42Mbps.

How much is the new #Hotlink plan?

A Starter Pack sets you back just RM8.80, that includes RM5 preloaded airtime. You get a 5-day active period upon activation and an additional 50-day de-active period.

Maxis-Hotlink4
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Sending WhatsApp messages to yourself is quite… weird.

Free basic internet tested

So, I obtained a #Hotlink Starter Pack from Maxis to test. Just like any other prepaid service, you’ll need to have it activated with a valid IC or passport (if you’re a foreigner). Unfortunately, this cannot be done online, so I couldn’t get it activated until the next day when I stepped into a Maxis Centre. It took just five minutes to register and activate, and away I went.

Now the goal of the review was to see how I’d cope with basic internet speeds of 64Kbps, and how long I’d last without reloading. Also, the difference in performance and usability when subscribed to a Mobile Internet Pass for unthrottled access.

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Hello, Hotlink

After plugging in the MicroSIM into my Motorola RAZR i review phone, I immediately received several SMSes from Maxis – first welcoming to the new service, then phone settings for MMS and data. It was also nice to see that I was in HSPA coverage area (though I’d only enjoy a fraction of that speed).

The first thing I did was to fire-up Speedtest to test the initial speeds. And sure enough, a paltry 64Kbps.

I also fired up three most used mobile apps – Facebook, Twitter and WhatsApp to see how 1997 speeds cope with social networks.

Here’s the honest truth. For normal status updates on Facebook, tweets and WhatsApp messages, you’d be hard-pressed to tell any substantial difference in delivery. 64Kbps, while minuscule by today’s high speed standards, is sufficient for ‘basic’ social networking and chat. Loading a basic Google search page is instant too.

Things change however when you need to post images on Facebook and Twitter, or images/voice/video on WhatsApp. It can be painful. Forget Instagram, too.

Zero credit, not zero connectivity

But wait, that’s not the point. The point is that even when you run out of credit, you’ll still be connected. You’ll still be able to do social networking, chat and surf basic webpages without being completely cut off.

With widespread Wi-Fi connectivity around most major areas in Malaysia, there’s also no reason why one can’t log-on to the nearest Wi-Fi hotspot for higher speed data, whilst keeping the basics operational.

I lived on the RM5 stock credit from the Starter Pack for several days, doing my daily Facebook, Twitter and WhatsApp, as well as light browsing on Chrome. I logged on to any Wi-Fi hotspot I could when I needed faster data. So far so good.

Maxis-Hotlink2
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I need a boost!

#Hotlink, turbocharged

Maxis-Hotlink3
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Ahh…normality!

With the Mobile Internet Pass option, I’d have the ability to go full speed for just RM1/day. Maxis had supplied me with a 15/day Internet Pass with 500MB data. I got this activated, and sure enough, everything, and I mean everything sped up.

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Having an Internet Pass means I’d have the data quota in hand, without paying Pay-Per-Use charges on my main credit. If you’ve used other prepaid plans like Yes 4G, U Mobile or P1 4G, you’d be quite familiar with the concept.

The Mobile Internet Pass is rather flexible. You can choose to go on a daily basis at RM1/day, Weekly 100MB, Monthly 350MB/1GB/3GB.

Unfortunately, only HSPA+ speeds and no 4G LTE, although Maxis has hinted that this will come in the near future.

For general questions on #Hotlink, visit the #Hotlink FAQ page.

The Bottomline

The new #Hotlink is for anyone looking for a low-cost entry to a basic mobile service, and mobile internet. Sure, other telcos also offer super cheap start-up packages but the key advantage of #Hotlink is that you will still remain connected even when your credit runs out. This is quite a game-changer, and not yet seen in the local telco scene.

64Kbps isn’t a lot. In fact, it’s unfathomable in the era of 100Mbps 4G LTE and the likes. But before power users scream anarchy, think about it. Better to be always on, always connected, than not at all.

Data hungry prepaid users, like myself, can easily and inexpensively opt for a Mobile Internet Pass from as low as RM1/day to enjoy high-speed internet and rest assured that you don’t get completely cut off when your quota or credit runs dry.

After over a week, a quick check reveals I still have RM4.86 of credit, and approximately 200MB of data left. This is attributed to me logging on to Wi-Fi whenever available. Of course with the Mobile Internet Pass I could enjoy regular data speeds when Wi-Fi wasn’t available, so I wasn’t too concerned.

So, looks like I’ll keep the #Hotlink SIM and number. You may want to give it a shot too if you’re looking for a second number or looking to move from a postpaid.

The new #Hotlink. Tried. Tested. Survived.

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  • Show Comments (22)

  • Chyee

    Can i ask that why after gst my reload expiry become 30days??

    • Vernon Chan

      Hi Chyee,

      Validity depends on the value of your reload. A RM30 reload will give you 30 days of validity. When you top-up it’s in ‘active mode’ means you get all the benefits of an active #Hotlink account.

      A ‘non-active’/deactive state is when you don’t reload or top-up. In this state you cannot make calls or SMS, only receive. The maximum period of non-active state is 50 days.

      Hope this answers your query.

  • kamen91

    hai, i would like to ask. can i use this simcard for broadband to play online games with my laptop because online games need a consistent data transfer but they does not take alot of data

    • Vernon Chan

      IMHO, for gaming, get a wired connection like fibre which will give you better performance.

  • HARDY

    Hye, i’m currently subscribing to validity 365, will it be cancelled if i change to #hotlink. My expiration date is on September 2014. I don’t really understand. Thank you.

    • Vernon Chan

      Hi Hardy, Validity 365 and #Hotlink are two different products. Yes, once you’ve switched, you will lose the benefits of Validity 365.

  • lc

    How long is the reload expiry If I only top up rm5 each time?

    • Vernon Chan

      5-day active, and 50-day inactive period.

  • Broken Axe

    What if I’m still using the old hotlink plan ? Will the reload expiry be still the same ? Or will it be switched to the eg. RM 10/10 days reload expiry ?

    • Vernon Chan

      If you’re on the old Hotlink plan, you can switch to #Hotlink and enjoy the benefits.

      All plans can migrate, except for Hotlink Youth Club, Hotlink Campus Edition, Hotlink Broadband, Hotlink Sabah/Sarawak/Terengganu/Kelantan Plan.

      1. Just dial *108*25# to upgrade to #Hotlink Plan.
      2. Alternatively, you can dial *100# > Hotlink Specials > Upgrade to New Hotlink Plan.

  • boby

    If i subscribe for Validity365, can i enjoy free basic internet eventhough i have no credit left in my account?

    • Vernon Chan

      Yes, as long as the account is still active. Also, ensure you are browsing using Opera Mini. You can tweet and Facebook using web as well.

    • Vernon Chan

      Boby, slight error in my previous post.

      Validity365 is not available for #Hotlink, because the proposition of #Hotlink is FREE Basic Internet. 5-day active and 50-day inactive validity.

      if you wish to have low maintenance and long validity for your Hotlink, you may stay in current plan and purchase Validity365 or Validity90 for long validity period.

  • Vie

    When we had subscibe monthly internet, the expiry validity will goes to the internet expiry date or the reloading expiry date?

    • Vernon Chan

      Monthly internet data plan has no effect on your main reload expiry date.

  • onn

    do we have to sign up any option like e.g daily 100mb or monthly 350mb to use the free plan? or just on the data automatically can surf for free without any surcharge once we pluged in our new sim card?

    • Vernon Chan

      Good question. Ok here’s how it works. You do not need to subscribe to an Internet Data Plan if you don’t wish to. You do need however, to do a couple of things.

      Download the Opera browser. Using the supported Opera browser will give you free unlimited browsing, and also you’ll be able to use mobile-based Twitter and Facebook for free.

      You will of course need to keep the account active by reloading.

  • John Loo

    24 sen/minute, no such thing as a free lunch.

    • vernieman

      Indeed.

    • Vernon Chan

      Oh, of course not, John 🙂

  • Fiona Chan

    Thanks, I couldn’t really find information on how this works so this is great.

    • Vernon Chan

      Great. Glad you found it helpful. Do let me know how it fares if you decide to try the new #Hotlink 🙂

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