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TPG and Optus speak the right language to win over recent migrants joining Australian home phone market

Source: Roy Morgan Single Source. January – December 2015. Base: Australians 14+ with a home phone, sample = 18,668

1.4 million Australians 14+ (7%) have lived here for five years or less, and 45% of these recent migrants have a home phone – representing 4.6% of the total home phone market. Providers that have claimed more than their usual share of these new entrants must now learn to understand (and be understood by) a multilingual customer base and target market, Roy Morgan Research shows.

Recent migrants have markedly difference preferences when it comes to choosing a home phone provider. Telstra dominates the market overall, claiming 61.5% of home phone customers—more than four times as many as Optus (15.1%). But among recent migrants with a home phone, 32.9% are with Telstra, just double the number with Optus (16.3%).

However the most dramatic redistribution goes to TPG, which claims 30.1% of the home phone market among recent migrants—well over five times its 5.4% share across the general population, and almost on par with Telstra.

In the overall market, iiNet has 5.0% of customers ahead of Dodo with 2.6%—but Dodo has the edge among recent migrants, claiming 4.0% to iiNet’s 3.8%.

% of People with Home Phone Connection with Provider

Source: Roy Morgan Single Source. January – December 2015. Base: Australians 14+ with a home phone, sample = 18,668 including 625 who migrated to Australia within the past five years.

The home phone market is shrinking: since 2013, the number of Australians 14+ people with a home phone has shrunk by an estimated 832,000 to 13.4 million. Customers are abandoning the home phone (often, as we’ve previously revealed, by simply not reconnecting when they move) faster than new market entrants can replace them. 

New entrants are predominantly either younger people getting their own first home phone connected or recent migrants joining the market. Of these two (similarly sized) groups of new entrants, recent migrants are a far better potential opportunity for telcos: just 28% of 18-24 year-olds (who don’t still live with their parents) had a home phone in the house in 2015 (equalling 296,000 with a home phone), compared to the 45% of migrants who have lived here less than five years (equalling 613,000 with a home phone).

Four in five recent migrants speak a language other than English at home. By winning these new entrants, providers therefore have an increasing proportion of customers who don’t speak English as a native language.

Overall, 19.7% of home phone customers are speaking a language other than English when at home, but almost two-thirds of TPG’s home phone customers (63.3%) have English as a second language, compared with 29.0% of Optus’s and just 13.3% of Telstra’s.

30.2% of those with a home phone through Dodo speak a language other than English at home, compared with only 15.9% of those with iiNet.

% of Providers’ Home Phone Customers who speak a non-English language at home

Source: Roy Morgan Single Source. January – December 2015. Base: Australians 14+ with a home phone, sample = 18,668

At least 1 in 100 Telstra home phone customers speak either Italian (1.4%) or Hindi (1.2%)—but these are the only two languages spoken by at least 1% of Telstra’s customer base.

At Optus, there are nine non-English languages each being spoken at home by over 1 in 100 of its home phone customers, with the most common being Arabic, including Lebanese (3.4%), Greek (2.5%), Hindi (2.2%), Italian (2.1%) and Mandarin (1.9%).

TPG has 16 different languages each being spoken by at least 1% of is home phone customers—with over 1 in 10 speaking Hindi (11.8%), and another 1 in 10 speaking Mandarin (10.5%). 

Languages spoken at Home by at least 1% of Provider’s Home Phone Customers

Source: Roy Morgan Single Source. January – December 2015. Base: Australians 14+ with a home phone, samples = 12,229 with Telstra, 2,359 with Optus and 815 with TPG. Respondents may select more than one language. Languages spoken by a sample size under 50 have been excluded.

Michele Levine, CEO, Roy Morgan Research, says:

“When it comes to signing up recent migrants entering the home phone market, it’s effectively a level playing field for Australian telcos. Among those who were born here or have lived here for many years, Telstra may be practically synonymous with the home phone line—but newer Australians don’t have that same association. However both Telstra and Optus have increased their home phone market share among recent migrants over the past year.

"After the attacks in Paris last year, Optus was forced to take down advertising that used (perfectly reasonably, most would say) Arabic to announce it had Arabic-speaking staff in a nearby store. Nationally, over 3% of Optus’s home phone customers speak Arabic at home.

“Around 4.6 million Australians speak a language other than English at home. Phone plans and terms can be tough to understand even by those with English as a first language! It’s vital that telcos communicate effectively with their existing customers as well as potential new consumers not reached by English-language media and advertising.

“.In the mobile phone market, the top three biggest providers overall are reversed among recent migrants: Vodafone—the only international brand among the network owners—has a massive lead, ahead of Optus in second and Telstra in third.” 

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Roy Morgan is the largest independent Australian research company, with offices throughout Australia, as well as in Indonesia, the United States and the United Kingdom. A full service research organisation specialising in omnibus and syndicated data, Roy Morgan has over 70 years’ experience in collecting objective, independent information on consumers.

Margin of Error

The margin of error to be allowed for in any estimate depends mainly on the number of interviews on which it is based. Margin of error gives indications of the likely range within which estimates would be 95% likely to fall, expressed as the number of percentage points above or below the actual estimate. Allowance for design effects (such as stratification and weighting) should be made as appropriate.

Sample Size

Percentage Estimate


25% or 75%

10% or 90%

5% or 95%