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How we choose a mobile network: quality versus price in capital cities, country areas, and across the ages

Source: Roy Morgan Single Source (Australia), January – December 2013, n = 7580 Australians 14+ with a Consumer Pays Mobile Phone

Better network coverage and cheaper rates were the top two reasons mobile phone consumers choose their current provider in 2013, with almost 3 in 5 mobile users (59%) nominating one or both as deciding factors, the latest research from Roy Morgan shows.

37% of Australians 14+ cited better coverage as why they went with their current provider; 29% cited cheaper rates—but just 7% cited both. Seemingly, when it comes to choosing a service provider, many Australian mobile consumers feel they are making a choice between network quality and price.

Among the 9.25 million capital city consumer-pays mobile users, coverage and rates were each a reason for almost three million (32%), but only around 650,000 said both were factors.

Almost half (46%) of those in country areas include better network coverage on their list of reasons, nearly double the number for whom cheaper rates were a deciding factor (25%).

Mobile owners 25-34 form the frontline of the quality vs price arena, where youthful concern for price encounters the more mature need for reliability and quality. Consequently 25-34 year-olds have the highest proportion of mobile owners who cite cheaper rates (37%) and better coverage (40%), with 11% citing both.

Consumer Mobile Owners who Chose Provider for Coverage and/or Price

Source: Roy Morgan Single Source (Australia), January – December 2013, n = 7580 Australians 14+ with a Consumer Pays Mobile Phone

Tim Martin, General Manager – Media, Roy Morgan Research, says:

“Our research shows that although the majority of Australian mobile phone owners chose their network provider in part based on its coverage quality or cheaper rates, very few of us say that both these considerations were a factor.  This suggests mobile owners perceive quality and price as two distinct attributes, each offered by a different set of service providers. 

“Telcos have thus often tended to market their mobile services in one sphere or the other, but there could be valuable market area up for grabs if a provider could demonstrate—and market—both that cheaper rates don’t have to come at the expense of network quality and that highlighting extensive coverage does not imply premium pricing.

“While network coverage and cheaper rates are the two most common reasons people choose a provider, regardless of where they live or how old they are, the secondary considerations can vary dramatically, especially with age.

“Younger mobile owners 14-24 are much more likely than average to choose a provider based on recommendations from family members or friends, or to be on the same network as them. When they get a bit older, things like plans and new phone packaging options become more important. Older still, and being able to bundle the mobile phone with other household telecommunications is more of a factor.”  

For comments or more information please contact:

Tim Martin, General Manager – Media
Telephone: +61 (3) 9224 5116

Please click on this link to the Roy Morgan Online Store

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About Roy Morgan Research

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

In Australia, Roy Morgan Research is considered to be the authoritative source of information on financial behaviour, readership, voting intentions and consumer confidence. Roy Morgan Research is a specialist in recontact customised surveys which provide invaluable and effective qualitative and quantitative information regarding customers and target markets.

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%