Eight out of 10 people living in regional Australia calling for end to monopoly

New research uncovers what consumers really want: coverage AND choice

Eighty-three per cent of people living in regional Australia want to be able to choose a mobile provider based on customer service and competitive pricing, according to a new report published by Empirica Research today.

The Vodafone-commissioned report, Telecommunications in Regional Australia, found while mobile coverage remained vitally important to regional Australians, customers also want the ability to choose from a range of providers.

The research involved 1000 respondents living in regional or rural centres around Australia with a population of 100,000 or less.

“Right now across regional Australia, many customers don’t have access to reliable network coverage and for those who do, a significant number have no choice of provider,” said Vodafone General Manager of Public Policy Matthew Lobb.

“Delivering coverage and choice for all Australians is the key to fixing the problems of regional mobile services.”

Regional Australians want taxpayer funding to benefit all

The research also touched on attitudes towards the Federal Government’s $100 million mobile blackspot program that aims to fill the gaps in mobile coverage in regional areas.

Overwhelmingly, 82% of respondents said they believed the taxpayer-funded program should be used to provide a solution for customers of all providers, and almost three quarters said they did not agree with the idea of the government funding only one provider, as has happened in the past.

“It is important we don’t repeat the mistakes of the past. It’s clear that consumers want a choice of provider, rather than the monopoly that exists in some areas of regional Australia,” said Mr Lobb.

“The current reviews underway provide policymakers with a crucial opportunity to deliver improved mobile service for regional Australians. As an industry, we need to have a broader discussion about the best ways to improve coverage and choice. It’s what regional Australians want, and Vodafone stands willing to invest and work with Government and industry partners to make sure they get it.”

NBN possibilities a popular solution to the mobile coverage problem

Eight out of ten people are in favour of NBN Co being part of the solution to the mobile coverage and choice problems plaguing regional Australia.

NBN Co already has plans to build around 2000 wireless towers across Australia, and Vodafone says there would be only a small additional cost to also deliver a mobile service, which would create additional revenue for NBN Co via access fees paid by mobile providers.

“This is a resounding call from regional Australians to the government and NBN Co to look at the opportunities that the NBN can offer in meeting the urgent demand for better mobile coverage and choice in regional Australia,” said Mr Lobb.

“While this idea seems so obvious now, when the NBN was originally conceived in 2009, there was a strong focus on simply replacing the copper network to deliver a more robust fixed line network. Times have changed. It’s no exaggeration to say that in the years that have followed smartphone and tablet technologies have fundamentally changed the way we communicate. NBN should now focus on improving both fixed and mobile broadband services,” said Mr Lobb.

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Notes to editors:

About Empirica Research

Based in Melbourne, Empirica Research is a market-research agency focused on the psychological aspects of consumer behaviour and decision making. Empirica brings the principles of evidence-based research into commercial projects. Empirica Research has diverse range of clients who receive tailored research solutions, innovative techniques, and access to the unique “Think Tank” featuring world-leading academics. The lead researcher for the current Vodafone project was Empirica’s Managing Director, Cassie Govan. With a PhD in Psychology, Cassie has a long history of innovative consumer research.