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MVNOs continue gains across all tariff types in UK

  • Mobile virtual network operators (MVNOs) hold almost 1 in 3 of sim-only (SIMO) main connections
  • Sky, BT, Virgin and plusnet hold a combined share of 18% of SIMO main connections 
  • 74% of new contract SIMO deals for Sky, BT and Virgin come from their home services client base

Mobile virtual network operators (MVNOs) continue to grow share across all mobile tariff types in the UK - particularly so in sim-only, where almost a third of main connections (31%) are now held outside of the big four operators. This growth is driven largely by Sky, BT, Virgin and plusnet, whose combined share of main mobile connections has jumped from 13% to 18% within 12 months. 

These findings from GfK’s latest Tech360 data show that Sky, BT and Virgin are effectively converting their existing customer base, with an average of 74% of new contract sim-only deals for these three brands coming from their home services client base. Apart from market share expansion, this ‘bundling’ or convergence can also deliver enhanced customer engagement and higher barriers to switching. 

Trevor Godman, director of technology research at GfK, comments, “There is a clear risk for the traditional mobile incumbents as big brand home service providers (TV or Broadband) move more aggressively into the mobile space with big customer databases to leverage. Our data also suggests that SIMO consumers tend not to rush back to regular monthly contracts. The likely result will be more innovations in the retail and financing propositions that mobile manufacturers bring to market, in a bid to retain customers against a growing converged movement.” 

Bundling particularly popular with older age groups

Bundling mobile with home services is particularly popular among older age groups, with 48% of purchasers being 54+ year-olds (up 6% Q1 2018 compared to Q1 2017), compared to just 18% of those aged 22-37 (down 5%). 

Those aged 54 or older are a promising group to tap into, due to their higher purchasing power and their higher average spend on unbundled services. For this group, the stated attraction lies in the convenience and ease of use provided by holding multiple services with the same provider.

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