Russian telcos to sell 1.8 mln iPhones a year-paper

MOSCOW, Aug 22 (Reuters) - Russian carriers have committed to sell around 1.8 million Apple AAPL.O iPhones per year after reaching a distribution deal with the U.S. company, a Russian newspaper reported on Friday citing sources.

A market source told Reuters on Thursday Mobile TeleSystems (MTS) MBT.N, Russia's largest mobile phone operator, had made an agreement with Apple on the sale of iPhones with retail sales likely to begin in October [ID:nLL228042].

Vedomosti business daily quoted unnamed sources as saying MTS' key rivals, Vimpelcom VIP.N and MegaFon, have also sealed a deal with Apple and will each have to sell 1.5 million iPhones within the next two years.

MTS has committed to sell 1 million iPhones within the next three years, the paper said.

It also quoted a source at one of the carriers as saying the iPhone will sell for $1,000 without contract. Those who sign up for a contract will make a down payment for the smartphone with an initial instalment of $200.

Apple’s iPhones are not yet officially sold in Russia, but they have swiftly become a status symbol in the Russian capital.

Unauthorised sales of the glitzy, large-screen phones are soaring as they are being brought into the country in suitcases or sent by courier. (Reporting by Maria Kiselyova; editing by Sue Thomas)