Ending O2’s exclusive status as sole UK iPhone supplier, France Telecom’s Orange this morning said it will begin selling the iPhone in the UK from later this year.

"Orange UK and Apple have reached an agreement to bring iPhone 3G and 3GS to Orange UK customers later this year," Orange said.

"Orange, which has the largest 3G network covering more people in the UK than any other operator, will sell iPhone in all Orange direct channels including Orange shops, the Orange webshop and Orange telesales channels, as well as selected high street partners," the carrier said.

O2 will continue selling the device, but its exclusive contract will expire. The company has attracted over one million iPhone users to its network since the device went on sale.

Orange has already published a page to its website where customers interested in getting an iPhone can register their interest.

Orange in the UK has also proposed a merger with the UK arm of T-Mobile. If approved, this will create the UK’s largest mobile network, and make the iPhone available to over 49 million UK mobile users.

Commenting on this news, O2 this morning issued the following statement: "We’re proud that we’ve been able to offer an exclusive iPhone deal to our 20 million customers for the last two years. We always knew that iPhone exclusivity was for a limited period of time, but our relationship with Apple continues and will be an ongoing success. We have over 1million iPhone customers and they remain very important to us."

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