Orange iPhone Exclusivity Deal Suspended in France

The French competition regulator has temporarily suspended a deal between France Telecom and Apple Inc. over the distribution of iPhone 3G, which is made available exclusively to customers of France Telecom's Orange service.

The council avowed that the decision will be enforced from Thursday, and will enable customers to purchase the device with a contract from operators other than Orange, like SFR and Bouygues Telecom.

According to the regulator, the decision will surely affect Orange’s monopoly in selling the blockbuster iPhone 3G, in addition to the distribution contracts put forward by Apple necessitating resellers to sell the iPhone only with a contract from Orange networks.

In its ruling, the competition regulator said that the agreement between Apple and Orange presented a “serious and immediate threat” to competition in mobile phone space, and hiked prices for handset users who inclined to change the network operator.

Back in September, a French mobile phone network, Bouygues Telecoms, filed a complaint with the France’s Competition Council, alleging that the deal between Orange networks and Apple Inc. infringes the fundamental rules of competition.

However, the ruling is not the permanent one, and it will remain in effect until the competition watchdog analyses the complaint from Bouygues Telecom comprehensively.

Buoygues welcomed the move by saying that the termination of contract between Apple and Orange will offer more options to French subscribers, both in terms of network carrier and mobile handset.

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