Research from Kantar reveals that between June 30, 2013, and June 30, 2014, mobile virtual network operators (MVNOs) gained a substantial foothold in the Australian mobile market, while Telstra and Optus remained relatively stable, and Vodafone's customer numbers continued to slide.
Australia is second on the list of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries for mobile subscriptions per population, with 1.14 mobile subscriptions for every person in Australia. This makes acquiring new customers relatively difficult for the telcos, leaving the companies to fight for customers switching between the carriers.
According to the statistics derived from over 120,000 interviews with people aged 16 years and over in Australia each year, Telstra's total market share dropped from 40.4 percent down to 40.2 percent, Optus' went from 21.1 percent down to 20.9 percent, while Vodafone's dropped from 18.7 percent to 16.7 percent.
Optus subsidiary Virgin dropped 0.1 percent to 6.5 percent, while Optus reseller Amaysim picked up 1 percent market share to 3.7 percent, and Telstra reseller Aldi picked up 1.1 percent marketshare to 1.6 percent. TPG and other MVNOs account for a total 10.3 percent market share.
The slow gain for other MVNO companies is largely due to the closure of Kogan Mobile, which played a large role in MVNO prepaid market share dropping from 9.1 percent to 6.8 percent.
The results hold some hope for Vodafone, which saw its biggest losses from the prepaid market, with a 4 percent drop, but only a 0.9 percent decline in the postpaid market.
Kantar said that according to its data most Vodafone prepaid customers were switching to Telstra.
The research organisation said Amaysim had overtaken Virgin in consumer satisfaction.
"Amaysim is now very well established but still growing in prepaid and, with the highest satisfaction rating and a share of 7.3 percent, is bigger than Virgin Mobile (with customers largely switching from either VHA or Optus)."
Telstra is also losing customer from its retail service to its reseller Aldi, with Kantar noting that as many customers were switching to Aldi from Telstra as Vodafone, leading to Aldi picking up almost 4 percent of the prepaid market in just 18 months.
Kantar said the attraction to MVNOs were due to the higher data allowances and flexibility on plans.
"Customers of such MVNOs are generally smartphone users, who are highly engaged with their phones and are attracted to the straightforward plans which offer great value and large data allowances without the longer term commitment of postpaid plans."