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Vodafone Challenges iPhone Deal In Germany

German courts have issued a restraining order prohibiting the sale of the iPhone, and Deutsche Telekom won't comment on the issue.

The Vodafone Group's German unit, upset about the exclusive pact Deutsche Telekom has to market Apple's iPhone, has petitioned a German court to halt sales of the phone until Vodafone's complaints are resolved.

Both service providers have significant interests in the United States -- Deutsche Telekom's T-Mobile unit is the fourth largest U.S. cell phone provider, and Vodafone owns 45% of Verizon Wireless.

While reports on the German controversy are still preliminary, the Dow Jones news service said a restraining order prohibiting the sale of the iPhone was issued in a Hamburg court, and that Deutsche Telekom couldn't comment on the issue until it examined the Vodafone filing in detail.

A Vodafone spokesman told the news service that it's questioning the exclusive deal Deutsche Telekom has with Apple to sell the iPhone, as well as some issues regarding fees in the DT-Apple partnership.

The Vodafone spokesman said the company isn't generally opposed to the exclusive pact between Apple and DT, and the court filing isn't aimed at bringing about a total halt in sales. In general, handsets are often offered by mobile phone service providers in exclusive deals with handset providers.

Several weeks ago, Vodafone's CEO Arun Sarin raised questions about the use of the iPhone with Edge networks, which he noted were slow.

The Reuters news service reported that German mobile phone operator Debitel also said it had lodged a complaint with Germany's telecoms regulator about T-Mobile's iPhone deal.

"It's not permissible to link the use of the iPhone exclusively to T-Mobile's network," a Debitel spokeswoman said on Tuesday.

In the United States, AT&T has exclusive rights to market the iPhone.

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