Aussies now complain more about our mobile services than internet plans

A man looks at his phone in anguish
(Image credit: Shuttersock)

A new report by Australia’s telco watchdog recorded almost 80,000 complaints about phone and internet services in the last financial year, and while that number is substantial, it actually represents a 33.4% decrease year on year.

So what’s not working for us? It’s our mobile services, according to the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman’s (TIO) report. Mobile services account for the largest proportion of complaints, clocking in at 39.7% of all complaints made.

Poor mobile coverage was also the only top 10 issue that increased year on year, seeing a 6.1% rise in complaints. Besides this, the TIO found that the remaining issues in the top 10 decreased in the 2021-22 financial year.

The Ombudsman says that some of the increases in poor mobile coverage across states and territories can be attributed to natural disasters in Queensland and NSW, but it doesn't explain all complaints.

For example, the states which recorded the largest increases in poor mobile coverage were Tasmania (up 37.2%), South Australia (up 34.1%) and Queensland (up 17.3%). The ACT was the only state or territory in Australia to not have reported poor mobile coverage in its top 10 issues.

Table showing consumer complaints by service type

(Image credit: Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman)

How did the telcos perform?

The TIO also revealed the top 10 telcos by complaints received in the 2021-22 financial year. Collectively, the top 10 account for 90.6% of all complaints received by the Ombudsman, and Telstra leads the pack with 52.5% of the total.

That’s quite a significant chunk, but let’s put it into context. There were 74,135 complaints made about Telstra in the 2020-21 financial year, and that number fell to 41,741 in 2021-22 (a 43.7% drop). Telstra is also the largest telco in Australia.

Table showing top 10 service providers by complaints

(Image credit: Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman)

Southern Phone also saw a sizeable reduction in complaints, decreasing by 47% in the last financial year. It moved from 1,561 complaints in 2020-21, to 828 the following financial year.

Of the top 10, there were three telcos that saw an increase in complaints: Aussie Broadband, Dodo and Medion, which operates as Aldi Mobile. Some might be surprised to see Aussie Broadband in the top 10 given its largely positive user feedback, but the telco did see an 8.2% hike in complaints. In raw numbers, it went from 1,047 complaints in 2020-21 to 1,133 in the 2021-22 financial year.

If you’re searching for a better mobile or internet provider, we have dedicated guides to the best SIM-only plans and best NBN plans.

Jasmine Gearie
Ecommerce editor

Jasmine Gearie is an ecommerce editor at TechRadar Australia, with a primary focus on helping readers cut through the jargon to find the best mobile and internet plans for their needs. She crunches the numbers to maintain dedicated guides to the latest phones, NBN and broadband plans of all types, and covers the important telco industry news. She also hunts down tech deals on laptops, phones, gaming consoles and more, so readers know where to buy the products they want for the cheapest prices.