For telecoms looking to expand into international markets ripe for growth, Australia may be worth  serious consideration. The window of opportunity may not be ajar for very long, however, meaning the  best time to make a move to the “land down under” is likely to be sooner rather than later. According  to a report published by the analyst firm Telsyte, an amazing 46 percent of Australians have changed their mobile provider over the past three years. More importantly for telecom providers considering expanding, the shifting is likely to continue for at least the next year.

 

“Nearly 40 percent of mobile users are planning to or considering changing providers in the next 12 months, especially those who are already off fixed contracts,” said Telsyte Senior Mobility Analyst, Alvin Lee.

 

Satisfaction and Trust

 

Perhaps the biggest driver of provider migration has been unexpectedly high bills, or “bill shock” as it is sometimes called. Telsyte research reveals that 15 percent of Australian mobile subscribers have this unwelcome feeling of surprise in just the past 12 months, and those who have are two-and-a-half times more likely to make the move to a new provider. Young people in particular, Lee says, have been surprised by large bills related primarily to excessive use of local data as opposed to roaming charges.

 

These unexpectedly costly bills lead to a larger issue for telecoms in Australia—and one that may provide opportunities for foreign companies to move into the market successfully. One of the reasons Australians are so often inclined to switch companies is a lack of trust in their current provider. In fact, just within the past several weeks, the last Australian Communications Consumer Action (ACCAN) released a report that 42 telecom product contracts violated Australian Consumer Law (ACL).

 

“There were many terms found that tried to limit the provider’s liability and failed to mention the rights guaranteed to consumers by the ACL. The guarantees are, for example, that products should be fit for purpose and that consumers have the right to refunds or repairs,” the report said.

 

The report went on to say that many of the non-compliant contracts were written by smaller suppliers and that many of these companies were extremely difficult to communicate with. That claim is supported by the results of a recent survey given by the Communications Alliance—which develops customer equipment and related documents for the Australian telecommunications industry—which found that less than half of customers were satisfied with responses to complaints they made during the previous quarter.

 

Coverage Issues

 

Telecoms

 

Another opening for international providers looking to move into the Australian market is poor mobile coverage in some of the country’s more rural and underserved areas. Just as it is in other global markets, 4G adoption will be a major factor in Australia’s telecom sector over the next several years, as Telsyte expects 4G services to make up nearly 70 percent of all mobile services by 2017. In an interview last year, Australian Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman Simon Cohen admitted that for now, network coverage problems remain a major point of contention for mobile users.

 

“Over the past three quarters it [network coverage] has been the most common cause for complaints about mobile services,” Cohen said.”It does concern me that consumers are contracting for services and they’re not receiving the sorts of coverage that they’ve been promised.”

 

While the low level of customer satisfaction Australians have with their mobile providers isn’t great news for some of the suppliers in the country now, it does signal major potential for expanding companies looking for growth opportunity. In particular, telecoms looking to start slowly with expansion may be able to capitalize on the dissatisfaction of customers using some of the country’s smaller provider companies. But, as with any market expansion opportunity , timing is everything, meaning companies considering Aussie expansion should be sure to strike while the iron is still hot.

 

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