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Vodafone continues losing customers as Telstra, Optus, Amaysim gain: Kantar

The no-contract segment is continuing to grow in popularity, with Optus, Telstra, Amaysim and Aldi Mobile benefiting while Vodafone, Virgin, and TPG's total mobile customer bases shrank.
Written by Corinne Reichert, Contributor

Market research company Kantar has published the latest statistics on mobile market share in Australia, revealing that Telstra, Optus, Amaysim, Aldi Mobile, and Boost grew their total market share, while Vodafone Hutchison Australia (VHA), Virgin Mobile, TPG, and other mobile virtual network operators (MVNOs) dropped customers.

Overall, the no-contract sector now makes up 15.4 percent of the mobile market, up from 11.9 percent last year, while post-paid was down from 55.6 percent to 53.4 percent and prepaid from 32.6 percent to 31.2 percent.

The Australian mobile market remained fairly stagnant; the strongest growth was from Optus, which clocked a rise in total mobile market share of just under 1 percentage point over the year -- from 21.4 percent in September 2015 to 22.3 percent in September 2016. Kantar attributed this to "strong promotional campaigns between Apple and Optus", noting that 40 percent of Optus' new customers came from Telstra.

Optus' growth was driven by its gains in both post-paid and no contract: In the former, it rose by almost 2 percentage points, from 22.6 to 24.3 percent market share; and in the latter, it held 19.5 percent market share, up from 17.7 percent last year. In prepaid, Optus remained fairly stable, from 20.9 percent down to 20.2 percent market share.

Aldi Mobile grew by the second-highest amount -- 0.8 percentage points -- up from 2.2 percent to 3 percent of the total mobile market share. This was mostly due to its jump from 4.5 percent to 7.3 percent market share in the prepaid sector, although it also grew by 0.1 percentage point to make up 1.4 percent of the no-contract market. Kantar said 37 percent of Aldi's new customers came from Optus, which it attributed to "the offer of cheaper calls".

Aldi fell by 0.2 percentage points in post-paid, down to 0.9 percent market share, however.

Telstra also made slight gains despite its seven outages during the year, with a total market share of 39.9 percent, up 0.2 percentage points year on year from the 39.7 percent reported at the end of September 2015. For the prepaid sector, Telstra rose from 39.9 percent market share up to 41.5 percent over the year, while it fell by just 0.1 percentage point down to 41.2 percent of the post-paid market share. For the no-contract segment, Telstra remained stable, at 31.9 percent.

Despite Amaysim's AU$70 million acquisition of Vaya in January, its total mobile market share rose by just 0.3 percentage points over the year, up to 4.9 percent. Across prepaid, it rose by 0.2 percentage points to hold 6.1 percent of the market; in post-paid, it grew by 0.2 percentage points up to 2.1 percent of the market; and in no contract, it decreased by 0.4 percentage points down to 12.4 percent.

Boost rose by just 0.1 percentage point to hold 0.7 percent of total mobile market share thanks to gains across both prepaid and post-paid, partially offset by a loss in no contract. As of September 30, it held 1.9 percent of the prepaid market; 0.2 percent of post-paid; and 0.3 percent of no contract.

VHA -- which includes numbers from Vodafone, Three, and Crazy John's -- fell by 0.2 percentage points in total market share, down to holding just 14.9 percent of the Australian mobile market. In prepaid, VHA accounted for 14.6 percent of the market as of September 30, down from 15.3 percent; and in post-paid, it remained stable, at 16.1 percent. The no-contract market segment was the one area where VHA saw growth, rising from 9.9 percent a year ago to 11.2 percent.

Virgin Mobile also fell across most categories, down by 0.5 percentage points from 5.7 percent to 5.2 percent total mobile market share. It dropped by 1.8 percentage points to hold 3 percent of the prepaid market; rose by 0.5 percentage points to hold 6.6 percent of the post-paid market; and lost 0.5 percentage points to hold 4.9 percent of the no-contract market.

TPG and iiNet accounted for just 2.7 percent of the total mobile market, down from 3.1 percent this time last year. Its prepaid customer base fell from 1.4 percent to 0.8 percent of the market; its post-paid customers accounted for 1.9 percent of the market, down from 2.8 percent; and its no-contract customers amounted to 9.4 percent of the market, down from 9.6 percent.

Other MVNOs also dropped customers across the board, from 7.5 percent down to 6.4 percent of the total mobile market, dropping customers across every category -- down by 0.9 percentage points in prepaid, to 4.5 percent market share; down by 1.1 percentage points in post-paid, to 6.8 percent market share; and down by 2 percentage points in no contract, to 9 percent market share.

(Image: Screenshot by Corinne Reichert/ZDNet)

According to Kantar, Telstra has the highest customer loyalty, at 94 percent, followed by Aldi Mobile, at 92 percent.

In addition to Vodafone losing customers, the Australian Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman (TIO) last month reported that consumer complaints about Vodafone increased substantially during July to September 2016 to 6.2 complaints per 10,000 services in operation (SIO) -- almost two-thirds more than last quarter's 3.8.

Vodafone experienced a 4G mobile outage in September affecting data, voice, and text messages caused by a router issue, but attributed its rise in complaints to "administrative matters", pointing out that its complaints number remains "in line with the industry average".

Over the quarter, complaints about all telcos numbered 6.2 per 10,000 SIO, up from last year's 5.5 but down slightly from last quarter's 6.4.

Optus saw the most complaints last quarter, with 7.2 per 10,000 SIO, up from 6.7 last year; Telstra's complaints continued rising year on year, from 5.5 during the same quarter last year to 6 this year; and Amaysim's complaints also rose slightly, from 0.9 last year to 1.1 this quarter.

The TIO is due to release its annual report later this week.

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