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Wed, Nov 21, 2007 - Page 10 News List

Court orders Telekom to sell iPhone without call plan

DPA AND AFP , DUSSELDORF AND FRANKFURT, GERMANY

Vodafone said on Monday it had won a court order requiring its rival, Deutsche Telekom, to sell the Apple iPhone in Germany without a mandatory calling plan.

The stylish touchscreen phone-cum-music-player went on sale this month in Germany with Telekom as exclusive vendor. The telco requires buyers to sign up to a two-year contract with its T-Mobile wireless network.

Telekom confirmed it had received a temporary injunction.

The iPhone, which reached Germany and Britain this month after its US launch in the summer, has a software lock preventing its use on Vodafone's network, though hackers can unlock this.

British-owned Vodafone said the injunction, to apply until substantive argument before a court on the case, had been obtained from a court in Hamburg.

Temporary injunctions can be overturned on appeal.

Vodafone Germany chief executive Friedrich Joussen said in Dusseldorf Vodafone did not want to halt iPhone sales.

"We want it to be available to buyers without a mandatory calling plan," he said. "If I had wanted to halt sales, I could have, but I didn't."

Joussen said he expected a substantive ruling within two weeks.

The iPhone is essentially an iPod equipped for phoning and basic Internet use.

In related news, Telekom plans to downsize its accounting department and eliminate 400 jobs, or one-third of its workforce, the Financial Times Deutschland said yesterday.

Deutsche Telekom, which has suffered a major loss of fixed-line customers, plans to cut the number of German offices that handle accounting and internal audit to six from 48 at present, the report said, citing the company.

The newspaper cited people familiar with the plans, which were then confirmed by a company spokesman, the report said.

Deutsche Telekom might also move the remaining accounting and internal audit operations to Hungary, the newspaper quoted the sources as saying.

The spokesman, however, said it is the company's "clear goal" to keep those jobs in Germany.

It has already announced plans to eliminate 32,000 other posts by the end of next year and moved 50,000 positions to a new services subsidiary in July.

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