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Updated from 9:29 a.m. EDT


(VOD) - Get Vodafone Group Plc Report

said Tuesday that it has signed an agreement with


(AAPL) - Get Apple Inc. Report

that will bring the iPhone to 10 new markets before the end of 2008, giving more credence to rumors of a newer, faster version of the iPhone.

Later this year, Vodafone customers in Australia, the Czech Republic, Egypt, Greece, Italy, India, Portugal, New Zealand, South Africa and Turkey will be able to purchase the iPhone for use on the Vodafone network, the company said in a release.

At the same time,

Telecom Italia


said it will also bring the iPhone to Italy on its network, marking the first time Apple will allow its all-in-one device to run on more than one carrier in the same country.

In the U.S., Apple has an exclusive deal with


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, while

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services the U.K. and Ireland.

Deutsche Telekom's

( DT) T-Mobile wireless carrier has iPhone exclusivity in Austria and Germany.


, part of

France Telecom


, carries the iPhone on its network in France.

Vodafone's announcement represents somewhat of an about-face by CEO Arun Sarin, who had criticized the iPhone in November for running on the EDGE network, which has slower transfer speeds than 3G. During a November earnings call, Sarin said the iPhone is "not a broadband phone" capable of running over Vodafone's high-speed networks.

While many in the industry originally chalked up his comments to sour grapes -- Vodafone had been passed over for exclusive contacts with Apple in the U.K. and France -- analysts believe Vodafone's pact with Apple for the iPhone is further evidence of a forthcoming 3G iPhone.

Shares of Vodafone ended Tuesday down 0.4% at $31.95. Apple ended up 1% at $186.66.

RBC Capital Markets analyst Mike Abramsky said that Apple's new agreements with Vodafone and Telecom Italia expands iPhone opportunity to 331 million wireless subscribers and should help accelerate momentum and market share, and he agrees it could signal the launch of the long-rumored launch of a new 3G iPhone.

"In our view, a 3G iPhone remains on track for a global June launch," said Abramsky in a research note. He adds that by expanding its global addressable market, Apple could ship as many as 14 million iPhones by the end of 2008, which is well ahead of Apple's own goal of 10 million units.

Abramsky notes that most of the countries could see the launch of a 3G iPhone. Only India, Turkey and the Czech Republic do not currently have 3G networks that would support the higher transfer speeds.

Additionally, Abramsky notes that Vodafone and Telecom Italia are non-exclusive in Italy in order to tap into a market where pay-as-you-go deals are favored over traditional wireless subscriber contracts. As 91% of subscribers in Italy use pre-paid phones, he expects the iPhone to be offered with no contract, similar to how

Research In Motion

( RIMM) makes its Blackberry device available.