Wednesday, May 13th, 2015 - Roy Morgan Research

Fewer Australians are getting a new mobile phone handset as part of a post-paid plan, with a big rise during 2014 in the proportion of customers with a ‘BYO phone’, the latest telecommunications data from Roy Morgan Research shows.

Up sharply from 24.7% a year earlier, by the second half of 2014 30.6% of all post-paid customers were ‘SIM-Only’, having brought their own phone to the plan rather than getting a new one as part of the deal.

Among the major service providers, Optus recorded the greatest year-on-year increase in the proportion of post-paid customers who brought their own phone: now 27.5%, up from 19.8% a year ago.  30.2% of Telstra’s and 22.8% of Virgin’s post-paid customers are now SIM-Only, up from 26.4% and 18.7% respectively. However still fewer than 1 in 5 Vodafone post-paid consumers brought their own phone: now 18.5% up just 1% point since 2013.

Proportion of Mobile Service Providers’ Post-paid consumers who are SIM-Only:

Source: Roy Morgan Single Source, July 2013–December 2013 n = 4,687 and July 2014–December 2014 n = 4,234 Australians 14+ with a post-paid mobile phone.

The four largest mobile service providers all have a SIM-Only proportion below the norm. Among many smaller providers, the vast majority of post-paid customers bring their own phone. 69% of iiNet Post-paid customers brought an existing phone to their plan.

SIM-Only consumers are more likely than those who got a new phone as part of the plan to choose their provider for better network coverage or because of cheaper rates. Not being locked in to a fixed term contract is also a major driver for SIM-Only consumers—something of course not available to those getting a subsidised phone with a per month repayment. 

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

“In the past mobile service providers have relied on post-paid offerings that included a discounted phone to retain customers for another 24 months. However more and more Australians own their mobile phone outright, and handset upgrade cycles are becoming longer.

“As more customers enjoy the freedom and flexibility to change between plans, service providers are faced with the challenge to offer alternative incentives besides discounted phones to keep customers from switching. Our data clearly shows that SIM-Only customers are around 70% more likely to have switched providers in the last 12 months compared to the average Post-paid customer.

“It will be important for service providers to devise new offers to keep customers long-term, without making them feel as though they are locked in.”

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