Vodafone India has started pre-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.

The Indian government has yet to issue final guidelines on the auction of 3G (third generation telephony) spectrum and licenses in India. One of the issues holding up a final decision is whether foreign companies can bid for the license.

Vodafone is already an operator in India following its acquisition of a majority stake in mobile services company Hutchison Essar, renamed as Vodafone Essar. Vodafone announced earlier this year that the iPhone 3G will be available in India during the year.

In an advertisement Wednesday in The Times of India and on its website, the company is offering to pre-register customers for the iPhone 3G. The company however cautions that the device offered by Vodafone is currently compatible only with 2G networks, and some of its features may not work in India.

A Vodafone India spokesman declined to comment further on the company's offering.

Bharti Airtel, another large Indian operator, has also said it will launch the iPhone 3G in India later this year. The company has not specified the date for the availability of the phone to its customers. Vodafone's offer to pre-register customers reflects significant market interest in the Apple iPhone, and may be an attempt to get a marketing edge over Bharti Airtel.