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September 04, 2015

Mobile Operators Providing Satisfactory Service, But Customers Expect More

It's not easy to work in an environment where expectations are constantly rising, and mobile Internet operators are discovering that much firsthand. The results of a new study from Vasona Network are making it clear that, while providers are doing a fine job of keeping up with subscribers' expectations, those expectations are constantly on the rise.

The study revealed several major points showing how it's going to be difficult to be a mobile Internet operator for quite some time to come. The first major revelation was that people are increasingly choosing service providers on the strength of performance. That number went from 32 percent in 2014 to 35 percent this year, and that makes it clear this number won't be in danger of falling any time soon. Meanwhile, customers increasingly expect always-on service that really is always on; the number of users expecting “good mobile data performance all of the time, with no temporary hiccups or outages” went from 72 percent last year to 73 percent this year. Just to drive the point home, 32 percent upgraded mobile data plans last year, and another 10 percent expect to do so by this time next year.

But it's not all bad for the mobile Internet provider; while just 31 percent believed that the current provider was offering the best performance in the market, that number is now up to 35 percent. Forty-six percent would recommend that others switch to the carrier those respondents currently use, which rose from 42 percent in 2014. Those who think better service is just a switch away dropped from 32 percent to 28 percent, and fully 32 percent say that the mobile broadband experience has gotten better in the last year. Only 15 percent figured it got worse.

Vasona Networks' vice president of marketing and product management, John Reister, offered up some comment around the report, saying “This positive trend is notable, but with one third of smartphone owners recently upgrading plans and more planning to do so soon, it remains important that carriers innovate with technologies that are responsive to rising demand and able to efficiently utilize available spectrum.”

All of these points combine to make one critical point: in order for mobile Internet providers to survive in the market, such must have the best service around, or so close to it that it's imperceptibly different from competing service. After all, better than one in four believe that better service is just a different provider away, so any company that can demonstrate the truth of that stands to get better subscription rates and thus greater profit. While true customer satisfaction in this field may not be possible—as long as there are bandwidth caps, there will be dissatisfaction—it will be enough to be the best, as there's no place customers can switch to to get better.

With subscribers at stake, and plenty of competition eager to wrest market share from the rest of the field, having the best in mobile Internet service is less a luxury and now a survival trait. It's easy to make the switch, and with so many prepared to do so at the sight of a better deal, companies will have to work hard to hold on to what's already in hand.

Edited by Maurice Nagle

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