US telco lets slip 3G iPhone plans

30 Nov 2007

3G functionality will definitely be coming to the iPhone next year, said CEO of US telecoms firm AT&T Randall Stephenson, which will give the Apple handset increased speed and bandwidth capabilities.

Stephenson was not able to confirm the price of the new handset but conceded that Apple would be setting the price rather than AT&T.

At the original launch of the iPhone in the US Apple CEO Steve Jobs said the iPhone was EDGE or 2G enabled because of the power drain and battery issues associated with 3G functionality.

However, when the iPhone went on sale through O2 and Carphone Warehouse in the UK earlier this month Jobs did admit that Apple was working on a 3G model but did not go into details about when to expect it.

This news may be more welcome in Europe than the US where 3G-enabled handsets are not as common. With Apple undecided as to what network it may go with in each European country it is possible that 3G operators like 3 Ireland may throw their SIM cards into the ring.

The European market has been a tough sell for the iPhone whose exclusivity deal with AT&T in the US is not as clear cut when translated into European legislation.

Last week T-Mobile was forced to offer the option of a SIM-free and unlocked iPhone by the German courts after Vodafone raised an objection to the deal.

As the iPhone made its debut on Wednesday in France mobile carrier Orange has been forced to do the same, offering the unlocked handset for €649 but charging an additional €100 if the consumer wishes to access another network, still an improvement over the €999 price tag in Germany for its equivalent.

While there is still no news of an iPhone for Ireland at least we can most likely expect that it will be 3G enabled by the time it reaches our shores.

By Marie Boran