Operators risk losing as much as half of their customer base over the next 12 months, Ovum has warned.
A major global survey from the research firm shows that about a quarter of subscribers plan to definitely change providers next year, with another quarter indicating they may do so.
Quality of the mobile broadband experience is the biggest factor driving mobile operator churn, with 37% of customers globally saying they have either left or plan to leave a provider due to slow connection speeds.
iPhone customers are munch more likely to churn than users of competing handsets, mostly to find a provider with faster mobile speeds.
Ovum practice leader Angel Dobardziev said the results prove that being online is “by far the most important thing in consumers’ digital media lives.
“When we asked consumers to rate a range of activities on a scale from ‘essential’ to ‘unimportant’, browsing the web came top, with nearly 6 out of 10 consumers rating it as essential. By comparison, an old favourite such as watching TV was rated by only 3 out 10 consumers as essential.”
Broken down by operator there is a wide disparity in churn patterns. Customers of Airtel India and Korea's LG U+ are more than twice as likely to churn than the global average of 23%, while only 10% of subscribers to Japan's NTT DoCoMo and Vodafone Germany plan to switch providers.