Mobile operators are losing customers as high prices drive switches to MVNOs, report reveals


More than 5.5m customers switched network provider in last 12 months, according to YouGov

Mobile network operators are losing more customers than they are gaining, according to a new YouGov report.

The ‘Understanding the mobile operator switching market’ report found that 12 per cent of people with mobile phone switched network provider in the past 12 months, equating to 5.6 million customers.

Throughout the last 12 months two thirds of all switchers (66 per cent) left one of the main four operators but only 45 per cent switched to a rival with the further 55 per cent of switchers running off to MVNOs such as BT Mobile (eight per cent), Sky Mobile (six per cent) or PlusNet Mobile (six per cent).

Quad play offerings have proven a lure for consumers with 13 per cent of switchers making the change, with that fi gure increasing among Sky Mobile (49 per cent), BT Mobile (44 per cent), Plusnet Mobile (27 per cent) and Virgin mobile (26 per cent).


The report found also found that the amount of people on SIM-only plans currently stands at 27 per cent across the mobile market as a whole with that figure rising to 41 per cent among those who have already switched.

Price was highlighted as a big reason as to why people switch, with 49 per cent of Three customers moving from a contract and 27 per cent joining the network from a SIMonly deal with 38 per cent of those who switched taking a contract and 48 per cent taking a SIMO deal.

Of consumers looking to hold on to their device when their contract ends, the majority would rather move to SIM-only deals than upgrade and continue to pay more.

The report showed 47 per cent of iPhone users who have switched networks are on a contract with 43 per cent taking a SIM-only but before switching 52 per cent were on a contract and 25 per cent were on SIMO.

However, despite the pull of cheaper tariffs YouGov found that switchers pay an average of £15.60 per month compared to £14.72 on their previous network.

Other reasons for switching included a dissatisfaction with the network coverage (29 per cent) or customer service (26 per cent).