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ISSN: 1823-2523



Hand Phone Users Survey


Featuring the

Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission The information or material in this publication is protected under copyright and, save where otherwise stated, may be reproduced for non-commercial use provided it is reproduced accurately and not used in a misleading context. Where any material is reproduced, MCMC as the source of the material must be identified and the copyright status acknowledged.

Published by the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission 63000 Cyberjaya, Selangor Darul Ehsan Tel:+6 03 8688 8000 Fax:+6 03 8688 1006 Website:

From the chairman Introduction Main findings Tables RSE tables Glossary The MCMC CATI Centre 2 3 5 10 15 19 21

From the Chairman

This is the third issue in the Statistical Briefs series published by the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC). Statistical Briefs present main findings of selected primary statistical surveys conducted by the MCMC which are of direct interest to a broad cross section of the Malaysian public. This issue features the main findings of the Hand Phone Users Survey 2005 (HPUS 2005). The HPUS 2005 is the second annual Hand Phone Users Survey conducted by the MCMC to provide timely statistics for tracking trends in hand phone usage in Malaysia. The canvassing period of the survey extended from 9 August to 18 September 2005 from MCMC's CATI Centre and had a response rate of 79.0 %. A write-up on MCMCs CATI Centre is also included in this issue. I would like to commend the Industry Development Division for the successful conduct of the HPUS 2005. A listing of all surveys published under the Statistical Briefs series can be found in the last page. Last but not least I would like to thank those who responded to the survey. Without their cooperation, this survey would not have been possible.

Dato' V. Danapalan

This is the second annual Hand Phone Users Survey conducted by the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission. The objective of this survey is to estimate proportions of the subscriber base that fall into the classes of the various categorization schemes of the key variables. Proper use of these estimated proportions in conjunction with the total known subscriber base as well as population estimates will facilitate the derivation of the various hand phone penetration rates. The survey also probed the following:

age gender ethnicity nationality usual state of residence urban/rural distribution occupational status income

as well as other aspects of user and current trends:

preferred payment plan SMS usage average monthly charges incidence of consumer m-commerce awareness of 3G use of VOIP receptiveness to number portability

Target population

The target population included all main users of hand phones on all digital platforms in the states and territories making up the Federation of Malaysia. These were the main users of the 012, 013, 016, 017 and 019 networks. Both postpaid or prepaid users were covered.

Reference date and geographic coverage of the survey

The reference date of the survey was 31 May 2005. The survey was canvassed using a CATI solution and operated out of MCMC's CATI Centre at Shah Alam. The canvassing period extended from 9 August 2005 to 18 September 2005. No statistical unit and no segment of the target population was excluded on the grounds of geographical inaccessibility or service non coverage or on any other grounds.

Response Rate

Using AAPOR Formula Number 1, the survey recorded a response rate of 79%.


The sample size was determined as 4,925 units ( and d= 0.02)

= 0.01

There was only one stage of sample selection as the survey adopted a SRS approach. Stratification was not possible because a suitable variable for stratification was not available. As at 31 May 2005, there were 16,243,337 hand phone subscriptions on the 5 digital networks operating in the country.

Method of administering the instrument

The questionnaire was administered by CATI. Interviewers call up main users of selected hand phone numbers to seek their cooperation. Answers given to precoded questions were clicked in while open ended answers were typed in. Interviewing time extended from 10:00 am to 6:00 pm on weekdays and weekends.

Main Findings
The main findings of the Hand Phone Users Survey 2005 are as follows:


93.7 percent of hand phone subscribers are Malaysian while 6.3 percent are Non-Malaysian.


The survey findings showed Selangor having the largest share of subscriber base accounting for 24.7 percent. This is followed by Johor (13.7 percent) and WPKL (9.7 percent). Percentages in the other states range from 2.9 percent to 7.4 percent with the exceptions of Perlis and the Federal Territory of Labuan where the proportions are 0.8 percent and 0.2 percent respectively.

Selangor 24.7% Johor 13.7% WPKL 9.7%

State Selangor Johor WP KL Pulau Pinang Perak Sabah Kedah Sarawak Pahang Negeri Sembilan Kelantan Melaka Terengganu Perlis WP Labuan

Percentage share of hand phone subscriber base 24.7 13.7 9.7 7.4 7.3 6.4 5.9 5.9 4.5 3.9 3.7 3.0 2.9 0.8 0.2


The survey showed that Malays account for 53.9 percent of the subscriber base while the Chinese account for 32.4 percent. Bumiputra (Sabah and Sarawak) take up 6.5 percent, Indians 6.3 percent, while other Malaysian minorities take up the remaining 0.9 percent. Percentage share of hand phone subscriber base 53.9 32.4 6.5 6.3 0.9

Ethnic Group Malay Chinese

Bumiputra (Sabah and Sarawak) Indian Others

Main Findings
Survey results show that males make up 57.4 percent of the subscriber base while females take up the remaining 42.6 percent.

Broad age groups


Pre-teens and teens (users up to the age of 19) account for 13.1 percent of the subscriber base. Adults (users from 20 to 49 years of age as at last birthday) accounted for 78.2 percent while seniors (aged 50 and above) account for 8.7 percent.


Urban-rural sector

The percentage distribution by urbanicity is work in progress. Percentage distribution of subscribers by payment plan sees prepaid subscriber base at 80.4 percent while postpaid at 19.6 percent.

Payment plan

Average monthly charges

51.3 percent of users do not exceed RM 50.00 per month on the average while 27.5 percent spent between RM 50.00 to RM 100.00 per month on average. A further 10.2 percent spent between RM 100.00 to RM 150.00 while 3.6 percent had monthly bills in between RM 150.00 to RM 200.00. Only 7.4 percent had bills over RM 200.00.

SMS usage

SMS usage reports a significant 84.9 percent of users in the subscriber base. The percentage of users sending out more than 5 SMS messages in a day on average is 49.6 percent.

SMS Per Day

Percentage share of hand phone subscriber base 15.1 7.6 8.1 9.2 3.0 7.4 49.6

Zero One Two Three Four Five More than 5

Consumer M-Commerce

Only 18.7 percent of hand phone subscribers purchased products or services through their hand phone during the past 3 months.

3G Services

52.8 percent of total subscribers are aware of 3G. Among those who are aware of 3G but have no intention to migrate, the following reasons were given:

Reason Don't need the service at the moment The phone is too expensive The service is too expensive You want to "wait and see" Others
*This is a multiple response question.

Percentage 54.8 37.0 31.2 28.9 15.1

Main Findings
60.8 percent of subscribers cannot distinguish between VOIP telephony and other forms of telephony. Of those who are aware, only 17.4 percent use it as a substitute for mobile phone call.

Number Portability

Of those who are not satisfied with their current service provider, 56.9% are in favour of number portability. Of those likely to port their number, 63.6 percent are of opinion that RM 10 is a fair price to pay for this service.

Employment status

53.1 percent of hand phone subscribers are employed. Students make up for the second highest with 16.1 percent. The remainder consist of Self-Employed (11.9 percent), Employer (6.7 per cent) and Unemployed (12.2 percent)

Income category

37.3 percent of hand phone subscribers had incomes ranging from RM 1,000 to RM 3,000. As much as 26.7 percent of users reported monthly incomes of less than RM 1,000. 6.5 percent earned from RM 3,000 to RM 5,000 and 3.7 percent had incomes in excess of RM 5,000. 25.8 percent reported having no income at all.

Caution is required in the use of the estimates tabulated below. Whilst the MCMC takes every care to minimise non-sampling errors, which cannot be quantified, the estimates presented are also subject to sampling error, which is a measure of the chance variation that occurs because a sample, and not the entire population is canvassed. The sampling error of an estimate is usually expressed as a percentage of that estimate to give the relative sampling error (RSE) of that estimate. In general, estimates that are small are subject to high RSEs. As a guide, only estimates with RSEs of 25 percent or less are considered reliable for general use. Estimates with RSEs greater than 25% but less than or equal to 50 percent are denoted with an asterisk in these tables and should be used with caution while those with RSEs greater than 50 percent are denoted by two asterisks and are considered too unreliable for general use. However these estimates may be aggregated with others until an RSE of less than 25 percent is obtained. Confidence intervals for very small estimates should be based on the binomial distribution rather than the normal approximation to the binomial. As an alternative, the method of Korn and Graubard, 1998 may also be used. Percentages may not add up to 100.0 percent because of rounding.

Table 1

Gender Percent Male Female 57.4 42.6

Table 2

Nationality Percent Malaysian Non-Malaysian 93.7 6.3



Table 3

Ethnic origin
Percent Malay Bumiputra (Sabah/Sarawak) Chinese Indian Others 53.9 6.5 32.4 6.3 0.9

Table 4

Age category Percent Below 15 15-19 20-24 25-29 30-34 35-39 40-44 45-49 Above 50 1.6 11.5 20.9 16.2 15.0 10.1 9.7 6.3 8.7

Table 5

State Percent Johor Kedah Kelantan Melaka Negeri Sembilan Pahang Penang Perak Perlis Sabah Sarawak Selangor Terengganu WP KL WP Labuan 13.7 5.9 3.7 3.0 3.9 4.5 7.4 7.3 0.8 6.4 5.9 24.5 2.9 9.7 0.2*


Table 6

Payment plan Percent Postpaid Prepaid 19.6 80.4

Table 7

Monthly hand phone charges Percent Bill <= RM50 RM50 < Bill <= RM100 RM100 < Bill <= RM150 RM150 < Bill <= RM200 Bill > RM200 51.3 27.5 10.2 3.6 7.4

Table 8

SMS per day Percent Zero One Two Three Four Five More than Five 15.1 7.6 8.1 9.2 3.0 7.4 49.6

Table 9

Consumer M-Commerce Percent Yes No 18.7 81.3



Table 10

Awareness of 3G Percent Yes No 52.8 47.2

Table 11

Reason for not wanting to migrate to 3G Percent Don't need the service at the moment The phone is too expensive The service is too expensive You want to 'wait and see' Others
* Multiple responses

54.8 37.0 31.2 28.9 15.1

Table 12

Awareness of VOIP Percent Yes No 39.2 60.8

Table 13

VOIP as a substitute for mobile phone calls Percent Yes No 17.4 82.6


Table 14

Employment status Percent Self-Employed Employer Employed Unemployed Student 11.9 6.7 53.1 12.2 16.1

Table 15

Income category Percent No Income Inc <= RM1,000 RM1,000 < Inc <= RM3,000 RM3,000 < Inc <= RM5,000 Inc > RM5,000 25.8 26.7 37.3 6.5 3.7


RSE Tables

Table 1

Gender RSE Male Female 1.4 1.9

Table 2

Nationality RSE Malaysian Non-Malaysian 0.4 6.2

Table 3

Ethnic origin RSE Malay Bumiputra (Sabah/Sarawak) Chinese Indian Others 1.5 6.4 2.4 6.5 17.3

Table 4

Age category RSE Below 15 15-19 20-24 25-29 30-34 35-39 40-44 45-49 Above 50 12.8 4.5 3.2 3.7 3.9 4.8 4.9 6.2 5.2


Table 5

State RSE Johor Kedah Kelantan Melaka Negeri Sembilan Pahang Penang Perak Perlis Sabah Sarawak Selangor Terengganu WP KL WP Labuan 4.1 6.5 8.3 9.2 8.1 7.5 5.8 5.8 17.6 2.8 9.5 6.2 6.5 4.9 35.3

Table 6

Payment plan RSE Postpaid Prepaid 3.3 0.8

Table 7

Monthly hand phone charges RSE Bill <= RM50 RM50 < Bill <= RM100 RM100 < Bill <= RM150 RM150 < Bill <= RM200 Bill > RM200 1.7 2.6 4.8 8.4 5.7


RSE Tables

Table 8

SMS per day RSE Zero One Two Three Four Five More than Five 3.8 5.7 5.5 5.1 9.2 5.7 1.9

Table 9

Consumer M-Commerce RSE Yes No 3.4 0.8

Table 10

Awareness of 3G RSE Yes No 1.5 1.7

Table 11

Reason for not wanting to migrate to 3G RSE Service not available The phone is too expensive The service is too expensive You want to 'wait and see' Don't need the service at the moment Others 11.2 3.5 4.0 4.2 2.4 8.2

Table 12

Awareness of VOIP RSE Yes No 2.5 1.3


Table 13

VOIP as a substitute for mobile phone calls RSE Yes No 5.6 1.2

Table 14

Employment status RSE Self-Employed Employer Employed Unemployed Student 4.4 6.0 1.5 4.4 3.7

Table 15

Income category RSE No Income Inc <= RM1,000 RM1,000 < Inc <= RM3,000 RM3,000 < Inc <= RM5,000 Inc > RM5,000 2.8 2.7 2.1 6.2 8.3



Hand phone

The hand phone is seen as personal and not household equipment. This is because hand phones are normally taken away by their main users when they leave the house or office. Also, when the hand phone rings at home, more often than not the person who answers it is the main user as calls received by that device are expected to be for him. (see also definition of main user)

Main user

The main user may or may not be the legal owner of the device. He may also not be the one who pays for the bills incurred as in the case of supplementary subscriptions and company paid subscriptions.


The ethnicity of an off-spring of mixed parentage is Malay if either parent is Malay, or recorded as reported or takes the ethnicity of the father if undecided.


Age referred to age as at last birthday.

Usual state of residence

Usual state of residence refered to the state where the respondent has a home and has stayed continuously there for the past 6 months. If he has stayed for less than 6 months but knows beyond reasonable doubt that he will be there for at least 6 months continuously, then he should be counted in that state. This is especially so in cases where the respondent has just been transferred in, prior to the interview taking place. If a respondent knows that he will be moving to another state shortly but has not done so yet at the time of the interview then he should not be counted as a resident of the state where he is moving to. This is especially so in cases where the respondent is in notice of transfer but has not moved yet. Usual state of residence does not refer to the state where ancestral homes or kampungs are located.


Monthly handphone charges

Refers to average charges on the hand phone through which the interview took place and does not include the charges on another hand phone that the respondent might have. In the case of prepaid subscriptions, the monthly handphone charges refer to the average top up per month.


Includes MMS


The MCMC CATI Centre


At the heart of any statistical survey is the data collection stage. This stage is the most critical stage in any survey as no amount of statistical refinement can make up for the lack of quality in data. Therefore the MCMC takes every reasonable measure to ensure that only quality data enters its statistical system. There are a number of ways of getting the data that is required in any survey. First, there is the observation method where the data collector observes the occurrence or non-occurrence of an event. Examples include traffic, shopper behaviour etc where the subject is observed from afar. Second, some surveys attempt to fathom non-observable characteristics such as opinions, preferences, educational attainment, monthly income etc. Such surveys require interaction with the subject. Typically the selected subject is approached and his or her cooperation sought to give the required data subject to some satisfactory confidentiality assurances. This may be done in a number of ways among them, face-to-face, telephone, mail, email and web. Each of these has their weaknesses and strengths. Before the use of computers gained popularity, telephone interviews were conducted by an interviewer calling a selected number and asking questions from a printed questionnaire and recording the results in the questionnaire itself. This necessitated a data capture phase before the results could be cleaned and analysed.

The MCMC CATI Centre

Modern technology has given brith to the Computer Assisted Telephone Interviewing system a.k.a. CATI system. It is a system that pulls together the telephone network and a computer network through a software solution that enables the computer to mediate interviews. Thus random telephone numbers may be generated by the system or alternatively, telephone numbers may be randomly selected and then pumped into the system. The system then distributes these numbers at random to interviewers who sit at booths which are equipped with a PC and a telephone each. The MCMC has 20 of these booths housed in an installation called the MCMC CATI Centre.


How It Works

Numbers may be rung by the system or by the interviewers manually. When a contact agrees to an interview, the interviewer asks the questions reading from an on-screen questionnaire and clicks in the precoded answers. Open questions can also be typed into answer boxes in the questionnaire. The answers are then collected back by the CATI system to be stored in a database for subsequent download and analysis. This obviates the need for a data-capture stage. In order for the interviewing system to work correctly, the survey questionnaire has to be programmed (called "scripting") according to specifications. When correctly scripted, the questionnaire can perform skips, branches and loops based on the answers given by the respondent. Over and above that, good CATI systems can control fieldwork such as start up surveys and terminate them, generate statistics about the survey itself such as response rates, sample quotas and interviewer performances. It should also be capable of automatic appointment handling as well as allowing supervisors to follow live interviews to ensure data quality.


The MCMC CATI Centre

Target population

A schematic of the CATI system that MCMC CATI Centre supports appears below:


Courtesy of NIPO Software

NIPO Watch System




NIPO Watch System


NIPO Odin Developer

R/W access

File Server or surveys folder Analysis Tools

Read access





SQL Server



NIPO Interview System

NIPO Interview System

NIPO Interview System

NIPO Interview System

NIPO Interview System



Our Interviewers

Interviewers at MCMC's CATI Centre are handpicked. Most of them have at least the SPM but mature candidates without the SPM are also considered. Given the nature of the job, the candidate must first come across well on the phone. That is why all candidates for the job are required to enquire by phone. An initial assessment is made. Qualities looked for at this stage include a pleasant voice, good diction, self-confidence and politeness. Interviewers at MCMC's CATI Centre are properly trained. Prior to the commencement of each survey, the interviewers are provided intensive training on the organisation, subject matter, questionnaire and telephony skills:

The organisation
The interviewers are briefed on the functions of the MCMC so that they may be able to answer simple queries from respondents wishing to know more about the organisation. More difficult queries are referred to their supervisors who are statisticians with the MCMC.

The subject matter

Interviewers are trained on the subject matter of the survey. For example in the case of a survey on hand phone users, interviewers will be given a roundup of the industry including some basic facts and figures.

The questionnaire
The interviewers are taken question by question through the questionnaire and each term used is explained to them so that they can in turn explain to respondents if required. Our trainers assume zero knowledge in all surveys, even a hand phone users survey although practically all of our interviewers are hand phone users themselves; and should be able to understand the common terms used. Skips and branches in the questionnaire and the logic behind these are also explained. Interviewers are expected to familiarize themselves with all questions in particular those that need careful probing and those that needed cross-checking with answers given to earlier questions.


The MCMC CATI Centre

Telephony skills
The MCMC uses an in-house training manual for telephone interviewing skills. This manual teaches the do's and don'ts of telephone interviewing including conversational skills and telephone etiquette. It also imparts skills on handling difficult respondents. Once training in all four areas has been completed, mock runs are conducted to enable the interviewers to familiarize themselves with the CATI system. The performance of the interviewers are then reviewed. Those that do not meet MCMC's stringent standards are dropped while those who do, are invited to become part time interviewers. The MCMC maintains a database of all good interviewers and draws from this pool when it launches a survey.




The MCMC website contains more statistics pertaining to the Communications and Multimedia industry. This is updated every calendar quarter. The MCMC publishes Communications and Multimedia: Selected Facts and Figures, a quarterly statistical bulletin (ISSN:1675-6223). Contact the MCMC for more details. The Statistical Brief (ISSN:1823-2523) and updates are issued by the MCMC to disseminate survey findings. These briefs are aimed at the general to intermediate user audience. Titles in this series so far: Statistical Brief Number One Hand Phone Users Survey 2004 Statistical Brief Number Two Household Use of the Internet Survey 2005 Statistical Brief Number Three Hand Phone Users Survey 2005





Koay Hock Eng Azilawati Masri Malini Ramalingam Ng Wai Mun CONTACTS For further information about these and related statistics, contact the following officers: Koay Hock Eng Malini Ramalingam : +603 8688 8234 : +603 8688 8237


About MCMC
The primary role of the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission is to implement and promote the Government's national policy objectives for the Communications and Multimedia sector set out in the Communications and Multimedia Act 1998 (CMA). The MCMC is also charged with overseeing the new regulatory framework for the converging industries of the telecommunications, broadcasting and online activities, as well as postal services and digital certifications.