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Most mobile users choose quality or price—but some want it all

Source: Roy Morgan Single Source (Australia) January – July 2015 n = 6,903 Australian mobile phone users 14+

Can you have your cake and eat it too? Can you have cheap rates and good network coverage? These are the two most common reasons why Australia’s 18.3 million mobile phone users (14+) choose a mobile service provider—but while more than 3 in 5 cite either, only 1 in 13 cite both.

41% of mobile owners chose their provider for its better network coverage and 28% say cheaper rates were a deciding factor. However just 8% of all owners say both were reasons.

The six mobile service providers with the most customers are plotted in the grid below. The higher up the y-axis, the more of their customers say network coverage was a reason for choosing; the further to the right on the x-axis, the more say cheaper rates; the bigger the bubble, the more mobile customers they have.    

% of providers mobile customers who cite coverage and/or rates as reason for choosing

Source: Roy Morgan Single Source (Australia) January – July 2015 n = 6,903 Australian mobile phone users 14+

Some results are clearly visible:

  • Telstra is the largest provider by far, alone in the premium space with customers who seek quality and are prepared to pay for it. It is the only provider in the top half of the grid, with more customers choosing it for coverage than price.
  • The second, third and fourth largest MSPs overlap in a competitive intermediate region, with a combined market size just shy Telstra’s. Only 5% points separates Optus, Vodafone and Virgin horizontally on the proportion of customers with them for cheaper rates; but vertically, Optus has a distinct lead on coverage quality, while Vodafone (a network operator itself) and Virgin (a virtual operator using the Optus network) are almost tied.
  • Optus is the ‘squarest’ provider, with the closest-to-even split between the proportions of customers choosing it for coverage and price. Vodafone has the lowest combined 
  • Rounding out the top six are Amaysim and ALDI Mobile, both in the ‘discount’ quadrant with an overwhelming majority of customers seeking cheaper rates. Like Virgin, Amaysim is a virtual operator on the Optus network, and only 13% of its customers considered network coverage when choosing the provider—about the same as for Vodafone and Virgin. ALDI, on the other hand, uses the Telstra network, and better network coverage was a deciding factor for over a third of its customers—more than Optus.

Michele Levine, CEO, Roy Morgan Research, says:

“We consider many factors when choosing a mobile provider. Recently, we looked at customers with these six providers who sought more calls, text or data in their plan. But network quality and price are the two most important factors when selecting a mobile service provider, and most Australians clearly believe it’s a choice between the two.

“Telstra is the only provider in the premium space but customers with Optus, Vodafone or Virgin share similar perspectives on why they picked the provider. ALDI Mobile and Amaysim (and many smaller virtual operators) compete in the discount space, but ALDI has a distinct advantage using the Telstra network. In fact, over 1 in 5 ALDI Mobile customers say they chose the provider for both its coverage and rates. Boost is another MVNO on the Telstra network that has leveraged the partnership to woo customers seeking both better coverage and cheaper rates.

“No matter the product or service, consumers increasingly expect to be able to have it all, especially in highly competitive market environments. While there will always be room for providers who focus heavily on either quality or price, it’s the (more difficult and perhaps lower margin) combination of the two that may be the next big market gap. Imagine a provider reaching the top-right quadrant!

“Of course, even with over 60% of mobile users saying quality or price was a factor, that leaves many who cite only other reasons, from reliability and clearer pricing, to customer service, reputation, and family and friend recommendations. Customers with Optus, Vodafone and Virgin are less likely to cite coverage or rates as a factor, so these providers in particular will need to discover and define their market edge across other factors. By understanding the reasons customers choose them, telecom providers can monitor and forecast the impacts of advertising campaigns and product or plan changes.”

To learn more about Roy Morgan’s extensive mobile phone service provider usage, attitude and switching data, contact:

Vaishali Nagaratnam
Telephone: +61 (3) 9224 5309

About Roy Morgan

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%