Telcos to bring iPhone to Asia

SingTel, Bharti Airtel, Globe Telecom and SingTel's subsidiary Optus have signed an agreement with Apple to offer the iPhone in their respective markets later this year, an Associated Press report said.

SingTel will sell the multimedia gadget in Singapore, Bharti Airtel in India, Globe Telecom in the Philippines and Optus in Australia, the companies said in a brief joint statement, without giving details.

SingTel owns Optus and holds a 30.5% stake in Bharti and 44.5% in Globe. As of December 31, 2007, SingTel had about 2.3 million mobile subscribers in Singapore and around 7 million in Australia.

Bharti currently has about 64 million subscribers, while Globe reported a 21.3 million mobile subscriber base for the quarter ended March 31.

The announcement comes as Apple looks to expand sales of the iPhone, a combination phone, music player and web browser, that was launched in the US in 2007, the Associated Press report said.

Earlier, America Movil, the top mobile phone operator in Latin America, said it inked a deal to bring the iPhone to more than a dozen countries in that region starting later this year, the report said.

Apple has so far signed exclusive deals for the iPhone with AT&T in the US, O2 in Britain, T-Mobile in Germany and France Telecom's Orange wireless arm in France, the report further said.