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Monday, December 29, 2008, 10:00 am PT (01:00 pm ET)

Contract-free iPhones on sale in France for $1100

Following a recent ruling by local regulators, French consumers can now purchase an iPhone 3G without signing a service contract with Apple-sanctioned wireless carrier Orange, assuming they're willing to digest a considerable markup.

MacNN notes that French retailer FNAC is now selling a contract-free version of the black 8GB iPhone for €799 ($1,123), while black or white 16GB models are fetching €899 ($1,263).

That's more than five times the €149 in-contract cost for the 8GB model announced by Orange back in July, and considerably more than similar contract-free offerings in Belgium priced at €529 and €619.

The iPhones on sale at FNAC are believed to be the result of a ruling earlier this month by the French competition counsel, which ordered Apple to immediately cease its exclusive relationship with France Telecom's Orange and allow other local carriers to offer the iPhone to their subscribers.

The counsel's ruling came following a September complaint from France's third largest mobile operator, Bouygues Telecom, which alleged the deal between Apple and its larger rival violated local freedom of competition and pricing laws.

France Telecom has appealed the decision, which is said to be a temporary measure instated by the counsel while it continues to investigate the merits of Bouygues' claims.