Court allows T-Mobile to lock in iPhone users

5 Dec 2007

A Hamburg court has ruled that cellco T-Mobile Deutschland, a subsidiary of incumbent telco Deutsche Telekom (DT), is allowed to lock its iPhone customers into an exclusive, two-year contract. The decision reverses an injunction issued at the request of rival cellco Vodafone Germany in mid-November barring T-Mobile from marketing the device with only a 24-month contract and a SIM lock preventing its use on any other operator’s network. T-Mobile, which has an exclusive deal with Apple to sell the iPhone in Germany, successfully appealed Vodafone’s injunction and said it is considering seeking damages.

Once Vodafone won a restraining order from a regional Hamburg court, T-Mobile told customers who had already bought the phone that they could unlock their SIM cards. T-Mobile also sold the iPhone without a contract, for EUR999 (USD1468). With contract, the phone had sold for EUR399. MVNO Debitel had planned to offer a EUR600 rebate to customers who had bought an iPhone from T-Mobile but wanted to use Debitel’s wireless service instead.

A Vodafone spokesman said, ‘The intention of the legal action was to ensure clarity on the commercial position in the German marketplace,’ adding that his company had not received a written ruling, but would be ‘examining it closely to decide on any future action…Vodafone Germany does not believe that the pricing model is in the best interests of the German consumer.’