Report: O2 iPhone deal to end in October

UK deal end could ensure more networks offer the handset

O2 could lose its exclusive deal to stock Apple's iPhone in the UK on October 9 this year.

A website called Mobile Entertainment is claiming to have seen documentation stating that O2 will officially end its exclusivity on this date. According to Mobile Entertainment, O2 has the rights to sell the device until 2012; but its period as the exclusive seller is only for two years.

A slight oddity is that the original iPhone went on sale November 9 2007; meaning that if the October 9 2009 date is correct a month has gone missing somewhere.

Orange and T-Mobile are widely tipped to join O2 as UK networks supporting the iPhone. Orange currently supports the iPhone in France, and T-Mobile is the exclusive deal in Germany.

The news of multiple carriers supporting the iPhone will be welcomed by consumers. More networks may introduce greater competition, which may result in better deals for iPhone customers.

An Ofcom report recently criticised the quality of O2's 3G network connection in the UK, stating that rival networks offered greater coverage in rural areas.

If the October 9 date is correct for the UK it may also mark the date when other network providers, such as AT&T which offers the handset in the US, also lose the exclusive right as the network provider for the iPhone in their respective territories.

Expanding the network choice in all territories is seen as a means by which Apple can increase the user base for the iPhone. This is especially true in the mobile phone market where many customers are locked in contracts to specific network providers.

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See also: Apple patents iPhone nano design

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Mark Hattersley

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