MVNOs in the spotlight – Analyzing American consumer’s willingness to switch
January 31st, 2024, Kineree Shah

MVNOs in the spotlight – Analyzing American consumer’s willingness to switch

Mobile Virtual Network Operators (MVNOs), such as Ryan Reynolds-backed Mint Mobile and Sam Altman's “Ai Pin” startup Humane, are reshaping the telecommunications landscape. Operating on existing carriers' infrastructure, these independent mobile services have sparked renewed interest in the sector. The global MVNO market, currently valued at $84 billion, is expected to surge to $116.8 billion in the next five years, reflecting the growing appeal of these customizable, tech-driven services. This trend underlines the importance of understanding consumer attitudes towards MVNOs, a topic explored in a recent YouGov survey.

We polled 1,072 US adults who own a cell phone. Three in 10 are likely to consider switching to MVNOs for their mobile service needs (29%). On the other hand, four in 10 are less inclined to make the switch while a quarter were unsure.

For those considering a switch to MVNOs ('very likely' or 'somewhat likely'), cost emerges as a key motivator. Half of Americans pinpoint lower costs as a compelling reason for a potential switch. Close behind, 45% appreciate the allure of more flexible contracts, while a third (33%) value customer reviews and recommendations. Specialized services, such as international calling plans or data-intensive plans for streaming, attract 32%. Support for small businesses (30%), enhanced privacy features (29%), and exclusive promotions (28%) each draw the interest of around three in 10 consumers. Ethical business practices are important for a quarter of them (24%), and AI integration features hold significance for one in five (19%).

Conversely, among those unlikely to consider MVNOs, the primary deterrent was satisfaction with current provider, as stated by more than half of adults (55%). Network reliability and coverage concerns are paramount for two in five respondents (43%). Over a quarter express a lack of trust (28%) and concerns about data privacy (28%). The complexity of switching providers deters one in five (21%), while lack of unique features (13%) and loyalty programs and benefits with their current provider are enough to keep one in ten (11%) from considering a switch.

These findings from the YouGov survey offer a comprehensive view of the current consumer sentiment towards MVNOs in the US market. While there is a growing interest in what MVNOs can offer, particularly in terms of cost savings and flexible services, challenges such as customer loyalty to existing providers and concerns about network reliability remain significant hurdles.

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Methodology: YouGov Surveys: Serviced provide quick survey results from nationally representative or targeted audiences in multiple markets. This study was conducted online on January 24-25, 2024, with a nationally representative sample of 1,110 adults (aged 18+ years) in the US, using a questionnaire designed by YouGov. Data figures have been weighted by age, gender, education, region, and race to be representative of all adults in the US (18 years or older) and reflect the latest USCB population estimates.