If you believe phone carriers we have over 28.5 million people using a mobile phone, which is around 6 million more than our population.Last weekTelstra announced it added 1.66 million new customers over the past year – giving it 12.2 million ”domestic mobile customers” – and on the same day Optus announced it had 9.1 million ”mobile subscribers”. A week earlier Vodafone Hutchison Australia said its ”total customer base” had declined to 7.2 million.
The carriers claim to have counted every SIM card on issue as a customer, which in reality is correct because a charge is being made for the service and data use of each SIM card. In addition several people like myself have multiple SIM cards which I use on a tablet, a mobile phone and a Next G Wireless card.
Fairfax Media claim government regulators are now cracking down with plans to force mobile carriers to report actual customer numbers. (Maybe they should also look at newspaper circulation?)
Mobile industry analyst for Ovum, Nicole McCormick, said there was no standard for reporting customer numbers, with each company deciding how long it kept counting an inactive customer.
”We estimate ‘real’ mobile customer penetration in Australia to be closer to 80 per cent compared to an ‘SIO’ [services in operation] penetration rate of more than 120 per cent,” she said. That figure would produce 18 million customers for the industry, 10 million fewer than reported.
Of the three major carriers, Optus waits the longest before removing a prepaid customer from its books – services are deactivated after six months. VHA stops counting a prepaid service if it has not been used for three months, and Telstra just 30 days.