Orange in France Loses IPhone Exclusivity

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The iPhone will no longer be available for just Orange subscribers in France after a decision by the national competition council announced Wednesday.

The council in September received a complaint from Bouygues Telecom, which, of course, is welcoming the decision, and will launch the iPhone as soon as possible, the company said.

The decision will also affect Orange's role as a wholesaler for distribution of the iPhone, and also the distribution contracts proposed by Apple obliging resellers to distribute the iPhone only with an Orange network contract, according to the council.

Orange will appeal before the Court of Appeal in Paris.

The decision is also not the last word on this matter from the council. It decided to take provisional action before a final decision on the case because the deal harms, in a serious and immediate way, consumers and competition in the mobile phone market.

Ending the exclusive deal between Apple and Orange will give subscribers more choice, both when they choose a mobile phone and operator, according to Bouygues.

Orange, on the other hand, says that the decision undermines it's efforts to develop high-speed mobile services in France. It also lashes out at Bouygues, saying that it's ironic that the operator most behind in terms of rolling out its 3G network initiated this complaint.

It also fires away at the council, saying that council action was taken without any in-depth examination of the situation.

Orange has so far sold about 450,000 3G iPhones and another 150,000 of the first generation model.

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