Hold On For Just One Second!

Before you leave, how about subscribing to iGR Opinion, our regular industry newsletter?






Wireless & Mobile Landscape

U.S. Mobile Consumers and Churn: Who churns and why?

Churn rates, which indicate the percentage of subscribers that end their service, are an important metric used to rate the performance of U.S. mobile operators and are regularly reported in mobile operators’ quarterly results. Because the overall number of mobile subscribers is no longer growing in the saturated U.S. mobile market, service providers must lure subscribers away from another provider if they want to grow their subscriber base, and when a subscriber moves from Operator A to Operator B, the churn rate of Operator A obviously suffers.

As churn rates are very important, many in the industry want to know why mobile subscribers churn. How do advertising and promotions, price, customer service, network quality, retail locations, and other non-mobile services offered by a provider affect subscribers’ likelihood to stay with or leave their mobile service provider?

In addition to looking at the possible causes of churn, in this market study iGR also analyzes the churn rates for the major U.S. mobile operators, the current churning behaviors of U.S. mobile consumers, such as how long they have been with their current and previous providers, and U.S. consumers’ perceptions of the network quality, pricing and customer service of the major operators. The data in the study is based on a web-based survey of more than 1,000 U.S. mobile consumers that iGR fielded in November, 2015.


Key Questions Answered

  • What are the churn rates of the major U.S. mobile operators?
  • What percentage of U.S. mobile consumers have been with their current service provider for less than one year? More than one year? More than two years?
  • What percentage of U.S. mobile consumers have been with only one service provider?
  • How do advertising and promotions affect U.S. mobile consumers’ likelihood to switch providers?
  • How do bundled services, such as AT&T U-Verse and DirecTV, and Verizon FiOS, affect U.S. mobile consumers’ likelihood to switch providers?
  • How do U.S. mobile consumers perceive the network quality, pricing and customer service of the major U.S. mobile operators? How could this perception affect their likelihood to churn from their current provider?
  • Why did U.S. mobile consumers who switched operators in the last year do so?
  • Why do U.S. mobile consumers who have stayed with their operator for more than one year do so, and is there anything that might make them change in the future?

Who Should Read

  • Mobile network operators
  • Wireless and Mobile advertising agencies
  • Mobile service retailers and distributors
  • Financial and investment analysts.

Table of Contents

  • Abstract
  • Executive Summary
    • Churn Rates
    • Switchers’ Behavior
    • Stayers’ Behavior
    • Stay Because of Good Network and Coverage
      • Compared to Perceived Ranking
      • Specific ‘Good Network and Coverage’ Reasons
    • Stay Because of Good Customer Service
      • Compared to Perceived Ranking
    • Triggering Churn
      • Trends by Mobile Service Providers
  • Methodology
  • Mobile Operators and Churn
  • Mobile Consumers and their Providers
    • Current Mobile Provider
    • Current and Previous Mobile Providers
    • Always with the Same Mobile Provider
  • Drivers of Churn
    • Advertising and Promotions
      • Awareness of Promotions
      • Likelihood to Follow Up
      • Awareness of CEO Promotions
      • Likelihood to Follow Up
      • Leverage to Get a Better Deal
      • Got a Better Deal
    • TV and Home Internet Services
      • Use AT&T U-Verse but not AT&T Wireless
      • Use Verizon FiOS but not Verizon Wireless
      • AT&T and DirecTV
  • Effectiveness of Recent Mobile Operator Advertising
    • Branding Colors
    • Advertising Tag Lines
      • AT&T Tag Lines
      • Verizon Wireless Tag Lines
      • Sprint Tag Lines
      • T-Mobile Tag Lines
  • Consumers’ Perceptions of Mobile Operators’ Services
    • Ranking of Network Quality
    • Ranking of Customer Service
    • Ranking of Pricing
  • Why Mobile Consumers Have Switched Operators
    • Previous Mobile Providers
    • Why They Switched
    • Do They Expect to Find a Better Deal?
  • Why Mobile Consumers Have Stayed with Operators
    • Reasons Subscribers Have Stayed
    • Stay Because of Good Network and Coverage
      • Compared to Perceived Ranking
      • Specific ‘Good Network and Coverage’ Reasons
    • Stay Because of Good Customer Service
      • Compared to Perceived Ranking
    • Reasons Subscribers Might Change in the Future
      • Number of Customer Service Issues Subscribers Will Tolerate
      • Tolerance for Network Quality Issues
  • Consumer Demographics
    • Demographic Profile of U.S. Consumer Respondents
  • Definitions
    • General
    • Device Types
    • Services
    • Network Technology
  • About iGR
    • Disclaimer

List of Tables

  • Table 1: Postpaid Churn Rates for Q3 2015 (Sprint’s Q2 FY 2015)
  • Table 2: Postpaid Churn Rates for 2006 to 2014
  • Table 3: Amount of Time with Current Mobile Service Provider
  • Table 4: Current and Previous Mobile Service Providers
  • Table 5: Subscribers of Only One Provider
  • Table 6: Awareness of Advertising and Promotions
  • Table 7: Likelihood to Act on Advertising and Promotions
  • Table 8: Awareness of CEO Promotions
  • Table 9: Likelihood to Act on CEO Promotions
  • Table 10: Using Other Providers’ Promotions
  • Table 11: Success in Using Other Providers’ Promotions
  • Table 12: Use AT&T U-Verse but not AT&T Wireless
  • Table 13: Use Verizon FiOS but not Verizon Wireless
  • Table 14: Awareness of AT&T Acquisition of DirecTV
  • Table 15: Likelihood to Switch Due to AT&T Wireless Acquisition of DirecTV
  • Table 16: Likelihood to Stay with AT&T Wireless Due to AT&T Acquisition of DirecTV
  • Table 17: Mobile Service Providers’ Branding Colors
  • Table 18: AT&T Tag Lines
  • Table 19: Verizon Wireless Tag Lines
  • Table 20: Sprint Tag Lines
  • Table 21: T-Mobile Tag Lines
  • Table 22: Ranking of Network Quality by Provider
  • Table 23: Ranking of Customer Service by Provider
  • Table 24: Ranking of Pricing by Provider
  • Table 25: Amount of Time with Previous Mobile Service Providers
  • Table 26: Reasons for Switching Mobile Service Providers
  • Table 27: Expectations for a Better Deal
  • Table 28: Reasons for Staying with Current Mobile Service Provider
  • Table 29: Reasons to Stay with Current Mobile Provider by Provider (Indexed)
  • Table 30: Subscribers Who Stay for Network and Rank Their Provider as Best
  • Table 31: Specific Important Aspects of a ‘Good Network’
  • Table 32: Subscribers Who Stay for Good Customer Service and Rank Their Provider as Best
  • Table 33: Reasons Subscribers Might Change Providers
  • Table 34: Number of Billing or Customer Service Issues Needed for Change
  • Table 35: Number of Network Quality Problems Needed for Change
  • Table 36: Respondent Age
  • Table 37: Respondent Gender
  • Table 38: Respondent Ethnic Background
  • Table 39: Respondent Annual Household Income
  • Table 40: Respondent Level of Education
  • Table 41: Age of Children in Household
  • Table 42: Respondent Region
  • Table 43: Respondent Marital Status

List of Charts and Figures

  • Figure A: Postpaid Churn Rates for 2006 to 2014
  • Figure B: Amount of Time with Current Mobile Service Provider
  • Figure C: Less than One Year with Previous Mobile Service Providers
  • Figure D: Reasons for Switching Mobile Service Providers
  • Figure E: Reasons for Staying with Current Mobile Service Provider
  • Figure F: Reasons Subscribers Might Change Providers
  • Figure 1: Postpaid Churn Rates for Q3 2015 (Sprint’s Q2 FY 2015)
  • Figure 2: Postpaid Churn Rates for 2006 to 2014
  • Figure 3: Amount of Time with Current Mobile Service Provider
  • Figure 4: Current and Previous Mobile Service Providers
  • Figure 5: Subscribers of Only One Provider
  • Figure 6: Awareness of Advertising and Promotions
  • Figure 7: Likelihood to Act on Advertising and Promotions
  • Figure 8: Awareness of CEO Promotions
  • Figure 9: Likelihood to Act on CEO Promotions
  • Figure 10: Using Other Providers’ Promotions
  • Figure 11: Success in Using Other Providers’ Promotions
  • Figure 12: Use AT&T U-Verse but not AT&T Wireless
  • Figure 13: Use Verizon FiOS but not Verizon Wireless
  • Figure 14: Awareness of AT&T Acquisition of DirecTV
  • Figure 15: Likelihood to Switch Due to AT&T Wireless Acquisition of DirecTV
  • Figure 16: Likelihood to Stay with AT&T Wireless Due to AT&T Acquisition of DirecTV
  • Figure 17: Mobile Service Providers’ Branding Colors
  • Figure 18: AT&T Tag Lines
  • Figure 19: Verizon Wireless Tag Lines
  • Figure 20: Sprint Tag Lines
  • Figure 21: T-Mobile Tag Lines
  • Figure 22: Weighted Ranking of Network Quality by Provider
  • Figure 23: Weighted Ranking of Customer Service by Provider
  • Figure 24: Weighted Ranking of Pricing by Provider
  • Figure 25: Amount of Time with Previous Mobile Service Providers
  • Figure 26: Less than One Year with Previous Mobile Service Providers
  • Figure 27: Reasons for Switching Mobile Service Providers
  • Figure 28: Expectations for a Better Deal
  • Figure 29: Reasons for Staying with Current Mobile Service Provider
  • Figure 30: Reasons to Stay with Current Mobile Provider by Provider (Indexed)
  • Figure 31: Subscribers Who Stay for Network and Rank Their Provider as Best
  • Figure 32: Specific Important Aspects of a ‘Good Network’
  • Figure 33: Subscribers Who Stay for Good Customer Service and Rank Their Provider as Best
  • Figure 34: Reasons Subscribers Might Change Providers
  • Figure 35: Number of Billing or Customer Service Issues Needed for Change
  • Figure 36: Number of Network Quality Problems Needed for Change
  • Figure 37: Respondent Age
  • Figure 38: Respondent Gender
  • Figure 39: Respondent Ethnic Background
  • Figure 40: Respondent Annual Household Income
  • Figure 41: Respondent Level of Education
  • Figure 42: Age of Children in Household
  • Figure 43: Respondent Region
  • Figure 44: Respondent Marital Status

For additional information on the U.S. Mobile Consumers and Churn: Who churns and why? market study, please contact Iain Gillott, at (512) 263-5682 or by email.