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Wednesday, July 15, 2009, 05:40 am PT (08:40 am ET)

Reports say iPhone could be coming to British T-Mobile

Multiple sources are reporting that that T-Mobile U.K. is in talks with Apple to bring the iPhone 3G – last year’s model – to its mobile service, taking away the phone’s exclusivity from competing carrier O2.

Reports from Register Hardware and guardian.co.uk suggest the appearance of the iPhone 3G on the British T-Mobile network could happen in the next few months.

The Register said O2’s exclusive agreement for the iPhone 3GS appears to remain secure. O2 would also carry the iPhone 3G.

“This represents a major shift in how Apple markets the iPhone,” The Register said, “which currently relies on network exclusives to get a decent subsidy; giving that up shows either greater confidence or reflected disappointment in how O2 has priced up the latest offering.”

The report from guardian.co.uk goes a step further: It states it is “understood” that both Orange and Vodafone are interested in providing the iPhone on their networks as well, if Apple changes its strategy. If that were to come to pass, all of the U.K.’s major cell phone carriers would provide some version of the iPhone.

Richard Moat, T-Mobile U.K.’s new managing director, has taken his position as the company is in the midst of financial trouble. Because T-Mobile does not offer the best handset selection, gaining access to the iPhone 3G would be a major coup for Moat.

“Moat, however, is preparing to reveal his plans to turn around T-Mobile's fortunes in the UK market,” guardian.co.uk wrote, “where it has fallen far behind O2, Vodafone and Orange.”

When it was released in Europe in November of 2007, the iPhone debuted on O2 in the United Kingdom and on T-Mobile in Germany. Much like it did with AT&T in the U.S., Apple secured exclusive agreements with carriers in each nation.

Though it is headquartered in Germany, T-Mobile has subsidiaries in various nations, including the U.S. and U.K.

Though exclusivity for the iPhone through one carrier is the most common arrangement, non-exclusive deals are not unheard of. Since 2008, Apple has signed a number of non-exclusive carrier contracts in various countries.