Russia's top carrier signs iPhone deal

Russia's number one cell operator MTS has signed a deal with Apple to sell the iPhone in Russia, an Associated Press report said.

MTS, which becomes the last of the country's big three providers to announce a distribution agreement for the handsets, did not provide immediate details of the deal, the report said.

The announcement was made less than a week after MTS's major rivals Vimpelcom and MegaFon said they have reached similar deals with Apple.

Both MegaFon and VimpelCom said they will be offering iPhone 3G. MTS was not able to specify which model it will be selling.

iPhones have not gone on sale officially in Russia, but are available on the 'grey market' for about €693.6 (US$1,000), several times the current retail price in the US, the Associated Press report said.

An estimated 500,000 iPhones are in use in Russia, which makes it one of the biggest markets for iPhones outside the US.

Analysts say Apple decided to sign deals with the 'big three' because it wanted to get a good exposure on the local market, where buyers can be put off by handsets that run on only one network.

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