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Tuesday, June 17, 2008, 06:00 am PT (09:00 am ET)

iPhone interest in UK increases fourfold with advent of 3G model

Though it will come as little surprise to those following the iPhone story, Apple's exclusive wireless provider in the UK said this week that regional interest in the new iPhone 3G is nearly four times that of the original model.

The Telegraph reveals that Telefónica's O2 has seen over 130,000 people pre-register on its website to receive more information on the new Apple handset since the device was announcement last Monday.

By comparison, it took nearly two months from the time the original iPhone was announced in the UK before the British carrier received just 35,000 similar requests from consumers.

Ronan Dunne, O2 UK chief executive, has said that the £269 price of the original iPhone had been "an issue for some segments of the market", but added that those who did buy into the touch-screen handset wound up spending an average 30 percent more a year on their mobile bills.

This time around, O2 will be charging just £99 for the 8GB iPhone and £159 for the 16GB model with 18-month contracts, but is also offering incentives to existing iPhone owners by which they could get either model for free when they agree to sign up for one of the carrier's pricer tariffs.

Last year, a hefty portion of British wireless customers also said their interest in the original iPhone was soured due to Apple's decision to forgo 3G wireless technology in favor of supporting only the slower 2.5G flavor.

Unlike in the US where 3G networks have only recently begun to take form, Europe is known for the widespread deployment of the speedier standard, and thus the original iPhone was often seen as running on yesteryear technology.

Apple has said that its own test show the iPhone 3G to be nearly 2.5 times faster in internet application usage than the 2.5G model, or almost as fast as using Wi-Fi.