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Belgian operator will sell iPhone simlock-free

Low country, high price

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Mobile telecoms group Mobistar SA. will launch the iPhone 3G in Belgium from Friday - but more importantly it will be one of the few European countries where the the iPhone will be totally simlock-free.

Belgian regulators forbid "koppelverkoop" (forced bundling), so as a result punters have to pay a very hefty price - the 8GB version in black will sell for €525 and the 16 GB version in black or white for €615.

In Germany and the Netherlands the iPhone 3G itself is subsidised down as low as €1, but subscriber plans require a two-year contract. If you want to make the iPhone simlock-free, T-Mobile will ask you to pay €120 in the first three months. It will be "free" after a year, but the two-year T-Mobile contract can't be cancelled.

Buying a more expensive simlock-free iPhone along with a cheaper plan in Belgium is what many Germans and Dutch intend to do. They may not even have to cross the border.

Some websites have already started offering small numbers of simlock-free 3G iPhones, oddly enough with firmware 1.1.4, but with the promise of free upgrade to 2.0. ®

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