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Three thriving as consumers prioritise price over service, research reveals

Elliot Mulley-Goodbarne
March 26, 2018

Operator grows customer base despite having worst service in country

Consumers are prioritising the price of a deal over the service they receive, according to new research by Tutela.

The research used over 10 billion data measurements and sourced from freely downloaded applications by around a quarter of a million people across the country.

It found that Three has consistently grown its customer base over the last four months despite having the worst data service throughout the country.

According to the operator, Three’s customer base grew to more than 10 million in 2017 (see p46) with Tutela also seeing the percentage of data from Three increase throughout December, January and February and particularly in November 2017 when it grew more than 1.5 per cent.

Three customers were found to be the higher data users, averaging between 6GB and 7GB of data per month, equating to around 200MB of data per day, with competition users at least 30 per cent lower.

Tutela vice president Tom Luke said: “Three users use more mobile data than anyone else and the most likely reason for this is that they have unlimited data plans and people are less concerned about how much data they are using.

“There is always a variety of factors involved in the consumer’s decision to sign up with a particular network but a major motivation is price and package and it would appear that, based on Three’s unlimited data plan, they have seen an increase in usage and market share.”

Worst Service

However, according to data from Tutela, the operator has the worst 4G service in the country, clocking average upload speeds of 5.12Mbps and download speeds of 9.63Mbps, whereas the leader, EE, noted speeds of 7.27Mbps for uploads and 22.75Mbps for downloads.

Luke added that despite marketing campaigns boasting about network quality and ranking, the price is still a factor that consumers are finding it hard to move past.

He said: “Operators tend to either advertise that they have the best network or they have the best plans and it seems to be the case that Three’s strategy of focusing on the best plans has been yielding good results for them.

“Based on our data, Three actually has the worst-performing network and EE has the best network so although they have a marketing campaign around the best network, it still appears that price package, in this case, that has allowed Three to win a lot of users despite not having the best network.”

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