Due to the economic effects of the pandemic, Italian customers are more price sensitive too, and shifting to cheaper sub-brands.
Opensignal has analysed mobile subscribers’ churn in Italy and found that users who changed their mobile operator had suffered worse than the average experience for that network before they left.
The data also shows that while the biggest brands – TIM, Vodafone and WindTre – are losing smartphone users, their respective lower-cost sub-brands – Kena Mobile, ho. and Very Mobile – are gaining customers.
The total number of active SIMs in Italy, excluding machine-to-machine devices (M2M), has been steadily declining for years. Hence churn is an critical factor.
The telecom regulator, AGCOM, reported that at the end of June 2020, Italy had 78.1 millions SIMs, excluding M2M, down from 94.1 million at the end of December 2012.
AGCOM also reports a steady amount of mobile number portability (MNP) operations — an average of 3.4 million operations per quarter in the last five years – confirming that churn is a lively dynamic in the market.
Opensignal analysed Android smartphone users in Italy who changed their mobile network service provider (‘leavers’) between the start of the year and the end of September 2020. Opensignal calculated the proportion of leavers that each mobile operator lost and gained out of the total number of Lleavers. Then, for each mobile operator, Opensignal calculated the difference between those two percentages, to find the net flow of leavers.
Opensignal’s data shows that, by the end of September 2020, TIM, Vodafone and WindTre were all losing smartphone users on their main brands, while their respective low-cost brands — Kena Mobile, ho. and Very Mobile — were gaining users.
It also noted an increasing number of users moving to low-cost brands, including Iliad, Poste Mobile and other MVNOs, suggesting that the current economic challenges caused by the pandemic are making mobile subscribers more sensitive to price.
Bad experience leads to churn
Opensignal also analysed the mobile experience of leavers during the third quarter of 2020. Opensignal looked at those users’ mobile experience during the 30 days before they made the change and compared that against the average experience on their network during the third quarter.
Opensignal found that leavers on average had had a worse experience before they switched than the typical experience observed by users on their original network provider. Leavers across all four national mobile networks on average spent between 64% and 94% more time without a mobile signal compared to the average scores on their networks; they also spent less time connected to either a 3G or 4G mobile connection, suggesting no availability, and they experienced a lower availability of 4G. The data therefore suggests that users experiencing mobile networks' pain points are more likely to change their mobile service provider.
Experience is the key, not just price
Iliad’s entrance in the Italian mobile market as a low-cost mobile service provider prompted the incumbent operators to invest in low-cost brands in recent years. The combination of new brands launching and renewed efforts around existing brands has increased the number of attractive low-cost mobile offers available to Italian customers.
Opensignal’s analysis of Italian smartphone users shows that price alone does not explain churn — even in a market like Italy with many low-cost brands — and that mobile network experience is key to understanding churn.