The Tale of the Aussie Telco You’ve Probably Not Heard Of

The Tale of the Aussie Telco You’ve Probably Not Heard Of

Australia loves an underdog, and what Australia loves more than an underdog is an underdog that’s really good at what it does. But what Australia also loves is any underdog that stands up to the incumbent and declares it’s coming for its market share – while MORE/Tangerine telco hasn’t exactly said that verbatim, it’s hard to deny the company is an interesting proposition, one that offers customers a good product without the cost that comes with a comparable service from an incumbent.

MORE Telecom was founded 10 years ago, initially intended just to be a small business provider. Now, MORE does consumer – quite well, actually. It offers NBN, mobile, and mobile broadband – and on NBN, the telco has about 2.5 per cent of the market share and is eyeing off 3.5 per cent by the end of this financial year. Also under the company’s belt is Tangerine. It was set up nine years ago to just target consumers and now, Tangerine, which uses the tagline of being “refreshingly simple”, is seeking 2 per cent of the MVNO market by the end of this financial year, too. Same parent company, just dual brands (think Qantas and Jetstar, Telstra and Belong).

The MORE/Tangerine story is an interesting one. MORE/Tangerine co-founder Andrew Branson moved to Sydney when he was 18, and as is the case with many British expats, he’s still here. But when he first came here, he scored a job in telecommunications sales and said he became frustrated at the fact switching providers wasn’t exactly pain-free. He pitched an idea to his brother back home, then he packed up and moved to Australia so they could launch a business together. While that business was sold many years ago, the thirst (an attempt to make a juicy tangerine joke, sorry) to make telco easy in Australia is still there.

MORE/Tangerine uses the Telstra network (if you can’t build the best network yourself, you may as well use the best one), but that’s an interesting position to be in when you’re looking to take more of the market.

Speaking with Gizmodo Australia, Branson discussed how exactly a new telco can compete against massive, very well-known brands with very big marketing budgets.

“You’ve got to be doing some stuff different and unique,” Branson said. “Our pitch is around doing a more cost-effective option for them. It’s about having better access to support and service … traditional old-school, customer service where you can actually pick up the phone and speak to a human.

“But at the same time, you’ve also got to innovate and deliver the modern technologies that people want.”

The telco is also partly owned by the Commonwealth Bank. The Commonwealth Bank has near on 16 million customers, and each one of them has access to discounts from the telco purely for being a user of the yellow bank. It’s a smart play by both the bank and MORE/Tangerine – CBA could invest in a telco and offer customer benefits outside of just banking, and MORE walks away with the backing of a massive company.

While MORE/Tangerine is newer than many of the other providers in the market, it’s got the luxury of playing in a space that has the infrastructure set up. The “horror story days” of the NBN are behind us and now there’s no reason why you can’t just click a button and have a new provider. That’s where MORE/Tangerine sees itself as a differentiator.

“In most cases, everybody’s home internet works very well, it’s reliable. They’re not – certainly shouldn’t be nowadays – having issues with buffering and things like that … now it has sort of commoditised, people do just want it to be simple and they want to be able to just turn it on and it works every day, and they want to pay as little as possible for it,” Branson said.

Ultimately, MORE/Tangerine is playing with the big guys; everybody that’s got a bigger market share is either publicly listed, or is owned by a superfund.

“I suppose we are punching above our weight, and we would like to continue to do that,” Branson said.

“We are an Australian-owned, sort of small business compared to some of these massive conglomerates … we’re valuing just giving people affordable, everyday, good old-fashioned service.”

I asked Branson if there was anything he’d do differently if he got the opportunity for a do-over. He said nothing stood out, which is vastly different from other times I’ve asked that question where the response was “not start a business”.

Anyway, just as we did with Aussie Broadband, we’re keen to see how the MORE/Tangerine plan for world domination takes shape.

Image: Stock (it’s got nothing to do with MORE/Tangerine, we just think it’s cute).

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