Mobile experience explains why urban and rural Canadian users change mobile operators

Opensignal analyzed mobile users in Canada to investigate the experience of users that switched the carrier that provided their mobile service. We found that users who changed their mobile carrier — “Leavers” — on average had a worse mobile experience before they switched compared to the typical experience on their original network.

Additionally, Leavers had either a better or similar experience on their new mobile network depending on whether they connected in urban or rural areas. For example, our urban Canadian users who switched their network spent less time without a mobile signal on their new network while their rural counterparts saw 4G Availability increase after moving to another mobile carrier.

Opensignal analyzed the mobile experience of Leavers during the whole of 2020. We looked at our users’ mobile experience during the 30 days before they made the change and compared that against the average experience of all users on their respective networks during the entire period.

We found that Leavers, on average, had a worse mobile experience before they switched than the typical experience observed by all our users on their original network provider. 

On average, Leavers connecting in urban areas spent more than twice the amount of time without a mobile signal (3.3%) than network users in general (1.6%). In contrast, those connecting in the rural areas, on average, spent 1.7 times more time without a mobile signal (6.7%) than the average scores on their networks (4.1%). However, Leavers in urban areas spent much less time without a mobile signal than our users in rural areas — 3.3% and 6.7%, respectively.

Leavers across Canada also spent less time connected to either a 3G or 4G mobile connection — 3G/4G Availability — and they experienced lower 4G Availability. Our data, therefore, suggests users who experienced pain with their mobile service were more likely to change their mobile service provider. For example, Canada has some of the fastest 4G download speeds globally, which benefits both urban and rural users, but these fast speeds are meaningless when users spend time either without a mobile signal or without at least being able to connect to 4G.

We also looked at the mobile experience of Leavers on their new mobile network provider and compared it with their previous mobile network experience on their original mobile carrier.

Opensignal data shows Leavers in urban areas spent less time without a mobile signal on their new mobile network than on their previous one. In rural areas, the difference was not statistically significant. But, Leavers in rural areas did experience significantly better 4G Availability on their new mobile network — 4.4 percentage points higher after switching their operator. And in urban areas, there was no significant difference for Leavers’ 4G Availability before and after changing mobile carrier.

While the mobile experience of Leavers in Canada — both urban and rural — is, on average, significantly higher than in many other countries globally, it is also true that some Canadian users will have a worse mobile experience than others.

Our data shows that Canada’s Leavers had a worse mobile experience before they switched to another carrier, compared to the typical experience of users on their original network. This shows that mobile experience matters to subscribers and that it is a critical driver of churn in Canada.