Apple’s exclusive deal with France Telecom’s Orange for iPhone distribution in the country has been provisionally suspended by French competition authorities.
Orange France plans to fight the suspension as it attempts to retain exclusive rights for distribution of the Apple handset.
France Telecom’s Orange said the decision by the competition council is “serious” and endangers commercial partnerships between telecom operators and telephone equipment companies, such as the one it secured with Apple, reports Dow Jones.
The Competition Council said the decision would take effect from Thursday at the latest. The Council wants to enable customers to buy the device with a contract from rival networks in time for Christmas.
The council said in a statement the five-year exclusive deal with Apple was “clearly excessive” and risked “serious and immediate damage to competition on the mobile market and to consumers”.
France Telecom has sold 450,000 iPhones so far.