France Telecom's wireless carrier Orange lost a decision by a French appeals court preventing the carrier from upholding its 5 year exclusive contract to sell the iPhone in France. After the contract was signed, competing wireless provider Bouygues Telecom, France's third largest cellular carrier, complained about the deal and in September they joined with other competing firms to try to quash the contract. On December 17th, the Court agreed with Bouygues and the other competing carriers by handing down a decision that limited future exclusive iPhone contracts to a length of no more than 3 months. That decision called the original 5 year contract "excessive" and a threat to competition. Apple and Orange appealed, but the court denied it yesterday. This led to France Telecom telling Reuters it will appeal to the highest court in the country. Meanwhile, on the back of the court's ruling, Bouygues Telecom says it will offer the iPhone once it can work out a distribution plan with Apple. The country's second largest carrier, Vivendi-owned SFR, and Britain's Vodafone also welcomed the decision. Reuters quotes analysts as saying that France Telecom could lose $260.7 million in sales as a result of the court's ruling. Since going on sale in November 2007, Orange says it has sold more than 600,000 iPhones.
source: Bouygues Telecom