Nokia Siemens Networks' annual consumer survey reveals that globally the percentage of mobile customers likely to switch operators is 39 percent, and the result has jumped 20 percent in one year, surely a worrisome result for network executives. A related finding highlights how critical it remains for operators to deliver reliable voice service if they wish to attract and keep customers.
The importance of voice might be easily overlooked in an era where mobile broadband service gets all of the attention. And while it's true that mobile broadband quality is a key deciding factor when mobile users in mature markets select a network, voice quality remains the chief consideration in emerging and in-transition markets, said NSN.
"Globally, voice quality, network coverage and calling rate structures have the greatest impact on customer loyalty," said Phil Twist, NSN's head of portfolio marketing.
NSN's consumer study included 8,700 interviews in nine countries clustered into three country groups: mature (U.S., U.K., Japan, South Korea and Denmark), in-transition (Brazil, Colombia and Russia) and emerging (India).
NSN found that the main driver for customer retention in the U.S. is network quality, with voice quality leading the way, followed by network coverage and messaging and Internet quality.
The continued focus on voice quality indicates it is paramount for mobile operators to ensure their voice over LTE (VoLTE) deployments provide good or better voice service than users have been getting on 2G or 3G networks. Fortunately, VoLTE has considerable upsides for the consumer experience. HD Voice is expected to accompany many LTE deployments by operators that could have deployed, but for whatever reason did not deploy, HD voice with older network technologies. Further, tying together voice with over-the-top (OTT) types of services such as video chat and messaging should also be attractive to voice-centric mobile customers.
Major operators appear to understand the high expectations for their VoLTE deployments. Verizon Wireless (NYSE:VZ) CEO Dan Mead said this week during the Jefferies 2013 Global Technology, Media and Telecom Conference that the carrier will deploy VoLTE early next year and promised Verizon will deliver robust voice quality over the technology. "We're going to make sure we're the network quality leader," said Mead, adding Verizon will look to launch "value-added" services on top of its VoLTE technology, including video calling and HD voice.
NSN's survey also found that 23 percent of heavy users of advanced mobile services in the United States are willing to pay extra for special mobile services, representing 5.6 percent growth over 2011's survey results, Ricardo Silva, NSN global marketing manager, told FierceBroadbandWireless
In the U.S. market, the share of heavy users of advanced services reached 63 percent in 2012, up from 46 percent in 2011. In addition, 42 percent of U.S. mobile customers use bundled offerings in 2012, up from 35 percent in 2011, predominantly to get mobile Internet service but also to access Wi-Fi hotspots. Average spending per month for bundles is $140 and $88 for pure offers; high spenders invest much more, paying $267 for bundles and $166 for non-bundled offers.
- see this NSN release
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