Vodafone: Europe's iPhone operator?

Investment bank Credit Suisse believes the network operator is a good bet for bringing the Apple phone to Europe, with Deutsche Telekom a close rival

Vodafone is among the frontrunners to become the network operator for Apple's iPhone when it comes to Europe, according to investment bank Credit Suisse.

A recent Credit Suisse research note said the UK-based mobile operator could walk away with the sole rights to sell the iPhone in Europe.

Credit Suisse believes Vodafone would represent a good bet for Apple as it's able to offer a presence in most European markets.

In the US, Apple has signed an exclusive five-year deal with AT&T to be sole operator for the iPhone — and Credit Suisse believes a similar deal could be brokered in Europe.

Vodafone's chief rival appears to be Deutsche Telekom, according to Credit Suisse.

Mike Grant, consultant at research company Analysys, said the operator would be a good choice for bringing the Apple mobile phone to Europe if the device is 3G-ready: "If Apple waits until [the iPhone's] a 3G phone, then yes, I would say Vodafone is absolutely the frontrunner. It would be a perfect match."

Grant said Vodafone has been aggressive about the positioning of its 3G mobile internet service so the fact the current iPhone is only 2G could be an issue.

He added it would be a significant coup for whichever mobile operator secures a deal to supply the iPhone.

Credit Suisse predicts the European operator for the iPhone can expect to sell around six million of the devices in the first three years.

The iPhone is set to launch in the US on 29 June. A release date for Europe has not yet been announced.