Russia to get iPhone 3G through VimpelCom

The nation's second largest mobile carrier is the first to confirm that it would indeed be carrying the popular device, though other carriers are expected to follow.

"VimpelCom announced today it has signed an agreement with Apple to bring iPhone 3G to Russia, expected later this year," the company said in a very brief statement.

The announcement is sure to please Russian techies as sales of unlocked phones are already quite high. Estimates of sales of unlocked phones are somewhere in the neighborhood of 20,000 per month, as more than a half-million iPhone users are believed to be in the country, ranking only behind the US and China.

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First generation iPhones briefly sold for as much as $1,800 when they were first brought over to the country; now, prices have fallen to right around $700.

VimpelCom will likely join Megafon as well as top Russian provider MTS. Although not confirmed, Apple may have also set some sales expectations that the carriers would have to meet.

Based on Russian newspaper reports, the deals last through 2011. MTS has agreed to sell 1 million phones in that period, while VimpelCom and Megafon have agreed to sell 1.8 million each.

Russian reports also indicate that the iPhone 3G would sell for quite a high price: upwards of $1,000 USD without a contract. An installment plan would be available to those who sign a contract, with an initial payment due of $200 to purchase the phone.

Thursday's news comes after Apple launched the iPhone 3G in nearly two dozen markets on Tuesday. Some of the countries to receive the iPhone were Romania, Philippines, Hungary, Czech Republic, Estonia, Poland, and India, among others.

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