The iPhone distribution exclusivity that UK carrier O2 has enjoyed over the last two years will cease with the announcement by rival Orange that it had also secured an iPhone deal.
While details of launch dates and pricing were not disclosed the carrier said in a statement, “Orange UK and Apple have reached an agreement to bring iPhone 3G and 3GS to Orange UK customers later this year.”
Claiming the largest 3G network coverage in the UK, Orange will sell the iPhone via all its channels including Orange shops, online, telesales channels and some retail partners.
If the proposed merger between Orange and T –Mobile does go ahead, Orange will have the most significant 2G and 3G mobile coverage n the UK with access to over 49 million mobile customers.
O2 claims that it will continue to stock the device and service their existing 1 million iPhone customers.
Speculation that Apple may drop its exclusivity with O2 has been mounting in recent months as O2 suffered a number of embarrassing network outages. The biggest outage in July affected over 2 million mobile data customers.
O2 will be the exclusive carrier partner for the new Palm Pre when it debuts in the UK next month.