ACCAN’s national survey reveals the way we communicate

ACCAN’s first national survey last year produced such a fascinating portrait of consumer experiences, perceptions and concerns that they commissioned a follow-up this year with many of the same questions.

A national representative sample of 800 surveys were completed – including both landline and mobile customers – and the data and trends across the two years are revealing.

Landlines usage slips further
Landline ownership decreased from 89% to 83% since 2012. At the same time, mobile devices are surging with smartphone ownership increasing from 57% to 64% of respondents in a year and tablets increasing from 25% to 32%.

More than half of respondents used their smartphone as their main communications service. But the data is more nuanced when you start to look at the age bracket breakdown. Only around half of people aged 18-34 have a landline phone whereas it’s 93% of those who are 55 and older. Smartphone adoption is 85% among the young and only 39% among 55+.

Telstra remained the dominant carrier at just over half of respondents but smaller providers such as TPG, Dodo and Virgin are on the increase. Among younger respondents Vodafone was the top choice.

Of the people who were surveyed it was clear that older people were much less likely to be active consumers – they’re used to communications as a utility service and don’t shop around.

Almost two thirds of older consumers signed up to their main communications service more than five years ago. Younger generations are much more active, with 1 in 3 signing a contract within the last 12 months, and they are particularly willing to change mobile providers to get better deals.

Most agreed that providers had been making it easier for people to track their data usage on their smartphones but 45% of consumers still do not use the available tools to monitor their usage. The results also suggest men are significantly more likely to go over their data limits than women.

Bill shock and data service lowering usage
While 84% of smartphone users are accessing the internet, 16% do not use their device to its full potential and these are typically people who are 55+ or on lower incomes. This indicates there are still digital literacy and affordability barriers to overcome as well as a fear of bill shock.

Despite the increasing trend of people using smartphones as their main communications device over a quarter think their smartphone data service isn’t reliable enough to do everything online. There’s been a 4% decrease from last year when respondents were asked whether speeds are getting better, highlighting the need for mobile network infrastructure to keep up with consumer demand.

A more positive development is that bill shock is on the decline, down to 12% of respondents from 17% last year. Excess data charges were identified as the main reason for getting stung and younger consumers were most likely to be affected.

Complaints drop
In line with recent news from the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman (TIO) that complaints had dropped to a five-year low, ACCAN’s survey found an overall decrease in complaints and an increase in consumer satisfaction. But 43% of respondents had a problem with their telco in the last year and almost 1 in 3 were dissatisfied with their provider’s response to their complaint,

Thankfully awareness of the TIO and its ability to help resolving complaints has increased, with 34% of people indicating they would take a complaint to the TIO (4% increase on last year) and the number of people who didn’t know who to escalate a complaint to dropped significantly from a third to one in five. Despite this more education about the TIO is needed for young people