According to latest figures the mobile phone industry is worth $25 billion a year. It is estimated for every three people in Australia there are four mobile phones. With such a huge amount of money available the competition between the big telecommunication companies has just got fiercer.

Last year Telstra has surged ahead of its rivals, adding close to a million subscribers to its ledgers. Telstra now commands a market share of 16 million users. Optus comes in second with nine million, with Vodafone trailing them at five million.

But Optus has spotted an opportunity: 1.2 million of its rivals’ customers will be off-contract before the years end. And Optus wants them.

Head of Optus customer Business Vicky Brady. Photo: www.heraldsun.com.au

Head of Optus customer Business Vicky Brady. Photo: www.heraldsun.com.au

Vicky Brady, Head of Optus’ Customer Business, told Newscorp reporters, “There’s a big group that feel they are constrained and stuck. We have targeted this knowing there’s an issue.”

Ms Brady was speaking about dissatisfaction with the current mobile phone arrangements. One-fifth of complaints received by the Telecommunications Ombudsman relate to some sort of contract frustration; most of them complaints about the punitive fees charged by carriers.

To this end Optus is offering to effectively pay the cost of an exit fee. The company will offer up to $200 towards early termination fees. They will add a further $250 for those wishing to trade in their old smartphone.

The iPhone 6 is being released this year. Many people desperate to get it are locked into contracts preventing them. Offering to pay the early termination fee, and bootstrap users into the new iPhone 6, will lure back customers lost to its rivals.

Telstra and Vodafone have taken a wait-and-see stance, not responded with similar offers.

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