T-Mobile to respond Weds to iPhone link suspension

FRANKFURT/DUESSELDORF Tue Nov 20, 2007 4:21pm EST

An Apple's iPhone is displayed following its introduction in Berlin September 19, 2007. Deutsche Telekom's T-Mobile will respond on Wednesday to a preliminary German court injunction preventing it from linking sales of Apple's coveted iPhone to a two-year T-Mobile contract. REUTERS/Fabrizio Bensch

An Apple's iPhone is displayed following its introduction in Berlin September 19, 2007. Deutsche Telekom's T-Mobile will respond on Wednesday to a preliminary German court injunction preventing it from linking sales of Apple's coveted iPhone to a two-year T-Mobile contract.

Credit: Reuters/Fabrizio Bensch

FRANKFURT/DUESSELDORF (Reuters) - Deutsche Telekom's T-Mobile will respond on Wednesday to a preliminary German court injunction preventing it from linking sales of Apple's coveted iPhone to a two-year T-Mobile contract.

A Hamburg court granted the injunction to rival Vodafone Group, which had hoped to win an exclusive pan-European deal to sell the iPhone but lost out to T-Mobile in Germany, Telefonica's O2 in the UK and France Telecom's Orange in France.

A T-Mobile spokesman declined to comment specifically on the company's options on Tuesday but said: "We will announce tomorrow how we will respond."

T-Mobile says it will object to the injunction. It could also reconsider the conditions under which it sells the iPhone.

Customers in Germany pay 399 euros (286 pounds) for the music-playing and Web-browsing device -- half as much again as it costs in the United States -- and are obliged to agree to a 24-month contract with T-Mobile costing a minimum 1,176 euros.

T-Mobile is the only seller of the iPhone in Germany, where Apple has no stores.

In the United States, the phone can be bought in Apple stores, though AT&T is its exclusive service provider.

The head of Vodafone Germany told newspaper Frankfurter Rundschau the aim was not to stop T-Mobile from selling the iPhone but to examine whether the terms it had set were acceptable.

German mobile phone operator Debitel has also lodged a complaint with Germany's telecoms regulator about T-Mobile's iPhone deal.

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

She added that Debitel complained to the regulator last month and was now waiting for a response from T-Mobile.

A spokesman for the federal network agency said it had asked T-Mobile to respond, but declined to divulge details.

(Writing by Georgina Prodhan; Editing by Braden Reddall)