Paris: Apple Inc. must allow operators other than France Telecom’s Orange SA to sell its popular iPhone mobile handset, the French competition regulator ruled Wednesday.
The decision overturns an exclusive arrangement with Apple that has allowed Orange to be the iPhone’s exclusive distributor in France since the phone was launched last year.
Orange rival Bouygues Telecom SA, the No. 3 mobile operator in France, filed a complaint with the regulator over the arrangement in September. The regulator said Wednesday’s order was a protective measure while it continues an investigation into the merits of Bouygues’ complaint.
Officials from Bouygues Telecom and Orange were not immediately available for comment.
In a statement, the competition regulator said Apple’s exclusive arrangement with Orange posed a “serious and immediate threat” to competition in the mobile telecommunications sector and increased costs for mobile phone users who sought to change operators.