Orange has reached an agreement to sell Apple’s popular iPhone in the UK.
The deal ends an exclusive arrangement between UK network operator O2 and the Californian phone maker, which has been in place since 2007.
Orange said its customers would be able to buy the phone “later this year” but did not specify a date or pricing.
The announcement by Orange ends months of speculation that it was trying to muscle in on O2′s deal with Apple, which gave it exclusive UK rights to the iPhone in 2007.
The 3G and 3GS versions will be available to Orange UK customers ‘later this year’, but no further details of dates, handset costs or tariffs are available yet, the firm said.
An Orange spokesman said it ‘will sell iPhone in all Orange direct channels including Orange shops, the Orange webshop and Orange telesales channels, as well as selected High Street partners’.
Earlier this month, Orange revealed plans to merge its network with T-Mobile in a move which would oust O2 as the market leader in the UK.
Orange and T-Mobile – currently the UK’s third and fourth largest operators – would claim a 37 per cent market share.
The deal, expected to be signed by the end of next month and completed next year, comes as mobile phone operators struggle in a highly competitive – and saturated – UK market.
The firms, which are in exclusive talks over the merger, promised better coverage and improved customer services, saying the deal would ‘bring substantial benefits’ to customers.