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Tuesday, September 29, 2009, 04:50 am PT (07:50 am ET)

Vodafone to sell Apple's iPhone in UK, too

Vodafone has reached an agreement to sell the iPhone 3G and iPhone 3GS in the U.K. and Ireland, an announcement that came just a day after Orange revealed it would also sell the handset.

Vodafone's new deal begins in early 2010, the company said Tuesday.

"Beginning today, Vodafone UK and Vodafone Ireland customers can register their interest in iPhone 3G and iPhone 3GS at www.vodafone.co.uk/iphone and www.vodafone.ie/iphone respectively. Pricing, tariffs and availability information will be announced locally in the future."

The international carrier now offers Apple's handset through 13 companies, including operators in Australia, Greece, India, Portgual and South Africa. The company based in Newbury, England, is said to be the most profitable wireless provider in the world.

Monday, competitor Orange also announced it had reached an agreement to sell the iPhone 3G and iPhone 3GS. But the Orange U.K. sales will begin this year, by the end of 2009, the company said. Orange is owned by France Telecom, which offers the iPhone in 28 countries and territories, including the corporation's home country of France.

For the last two years since the iPhone debuted, the handset has been exclusive to Telefonica's O2. With this week's two deals, though, it would appear that the flood gates have opened in the U.K.

Left out so far is British T-Mobile which, earlier this year, was rumored to be in negotiations with Apple. More recently, though, there was word of a possible merger between the company and Orange.

As the iPhone platform continues to mature and the device's popularity grows, exclusive contracts for the handset appear to be going away. In August, Apple reached a three-year deal with China Unicom to sell the iPhone in the nation of over one billion. But that non-exclusive agreement has also left the door open for Apple to come to an agreement with China Mobile, the world's largest cellular provider.