India's Airtel to launch iPhone 3G this month

Indian mobile phone users will be able to purchase Apple's coveted iPhone 3G this month, but they will only have access to a limited number of the device's features, as there are no 3G networks in India for the phones to run on.

Bharti Airtel, a large Indian mobile services provider, is launching the Apple iPhone 3G in the country on Aug. 22. The company has started taking "bookings" for the phone, but has not yet specified its price.

Booking means an expression of interest to buy the iPhone 3G when it is available in the market, and does not bind the customer to purchase the product, the company said on its Web site.

Vodafone India last month started registering customers for the iPhone 3G, promising that the device will be available soon, but the company will as yet not disclose when the device will be offered to customers, and its price.

The company will launch the iPhone 3G in India by Aug. 18, according to some reports. A Vodafone spokesman declined to comment on the date of the phone's Indian launch. Vodafone announced earlier this year that the iPhone 3G will be available in India during the year.

Both Bharti Airtel and Vodafone have, however, cautioned on their web-sites that the iPhone on launch in India will not be offered on 3G networks, and some of the features of the iPhone 3G will not be immediately available.

The Indian government announced last week detailed guidelines for the auction of 3G spectrum during this year. The commercial roll out of 3G services is expected only in the first half of next year, said Madhusudan Gupta, senior research analyst at Gartner in an interview on Friday.

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