updated 11:15 am EST, Wed February 4, 2009
Fra. iPhone kept unlocked
The sudden lifting of iPhone exclusivity in France will remain in effect, a ruling from the Paris Court of Appeals has declared. In December, the country's national competition council ordered Apple and official carrier Orange to temporarily permit other companies to sell the device, pending deeper investigation into complaints from Bouygues Telecom. Apple and Orange subsequently filed an appeal, but this was denied by a Parisian judge in a 19-page Wednesday ruling.
France maintains strict pro-competition laws, which in the case of cellphones forbid tying a device to a single carrier. Apple and Orange have attempted to work around this obstacle by offering an unlocked device, but at a higher cost, and still only through the pair's own outlets. Bouygues has demanded the right to sell the phone, noting that the iPhone is subject to unfair channel limitations.
Bouygues has praised the ruling, and announced that it is already in negotiations with Apple to decide iPhone sales terms. The device will in fact be launched for Bouygues subscribers as soon as a deal is completed, the company claims. An online retailer, FNAC, began selling unlocked phones only a week after the December decision.