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By Chris Aspin
MEXICO CITY May 7 America Movil (AMXL.MX) said
on Wednesday it would sell Apple Inc's (AAPL.O) iPhone across
Latin America this year, a deal that could extend its lead in
the region over Telefonica (TEF.MC).
Mexico-based America Movil, which operates in 16 countries
in Latin America and the Caribbean as well as the United
States, did not disclose financial details. It did not say if
it was an exclusive accord.
The iPhone is a touch-screen device combining Apple's
popular iPod music player, a video player and a Web browser.
America Movil, controlled by billionaire Carlos Slim, had
more than 159 million cell phone subscribers at the end of
March. It also had almost 4 million fixed-line clients.
It competes with Spain's Telefonica in the region and has
held the upper hand in customer numbers for a couple of years.
Phone operators around the world have been competing to
secure the rights to sell the iPhone.
Customers using the phone have driven up data revenues by
surfing the Internet and sending e-mails, a key attraction to
operators as the cost of making calls decreases.
Apple has mostly struck exclusive deals with carriers to
sell the phone, such as with AT&T Inc (T.N) in the United
States, Telefonica's O2 in Britain and Deutsche Telekom
(DTEGn.DE) in Germany.
But on Tuesday, telecoms companies Vodafone Group Plc
(VOD.L) and Telecom Italia (TLIT.MI) announced they would both
sell the iPhone in Italy, in an apparent break from Apple's
previous focus on exclusive carrier deals.
Shares of America Movil surrendered their early gains as
the broader stock market weakened.
As well as Mexico and the United States, America Movil
operates in Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Dominican
Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Jamaica,
Nicaragua, Paraguay, Peru, Puerto Rico and Uruguay.
Separately, Panama's government handed Claro Panama, a unit
of America Movil, an operating license on Wednesday after the
firm agreed to pay $86 million for a mobile phone concession.
(Additional reporting by Andrew Beatty in Panama; Editing by