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European Service Providers Vie For iPhone Bragging Rights

The Apple cell phone is expected to run on Edge networks in Europe, just as it does on AT&T's Edge network in the United States.

Riding the successful launch of its iPhone in the United States, Apple is poised to announce the names of the mobile phone service providers that will have exclusive rights to market the phone in the United Kingdom, Germany, and France.

The Financial Times reported this week that Telefonica's O2 had nailed down the award in the United Kingdom, while other reports circulated that T-Mobile was the front-runner in Germany. France Telecom's Orange was said to be in the lead to market the iPhone in France. No formal announcements have been made as of Friday, but the awards announcements were said to be imminent.

The Apple cell phone is expected to run on Edge networks in Europe, just as it does on AT&T's Edge network in the United States.

"Apple is to limit iPhone's European launch this autumn to the UK, France and Germany," the Financial Times said Thursday. "It will follow elsewhere in Europe next year, when it will also launch in Asia."

If the reports are accurate, it would mean that Vodafone Group, which could have marketed the must-have device of the summer across much of Europe, is no longer in the running to supply the iPhone in the three largest European countries. Apple sold approximately half a million iPhones the first weekend the device went on sale, according to analysts with Piper Jaffray.

While the Edge network is installed across the United States by AT&T (formerly Cingular) and T-Mobile, the network is currently available in the United Kingdom only to users of the Orange network. O2 would need to deploy the network for an anticipated pre-Christmas launch.

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