Vodafone is likely to start selling Apple's iPhone as early as Thursday 14 January next year.

The mobile phone network supplier will become the fourth operator in the UK, after first O2, then Orange and Tesco Mobile to offer the smartphone.

A message on the Vodafone website currently reads: "Upgrade to iPhone - Pre-order now to get yours first. Expected delivery 14 January."

Prices start from £30 per month rising to £75 per month depending on the plan. Full details of pricing can be found here.

The £30 a month deal is billed as 'our lowest cost iPhone plan with unlimited texts,' and is available on a range of deals from £59 for the iPhone 3G 8GB to £239 for the 3GS 32GB smartphone. Vodafone also announced iPhone tethering costs, £5 for 500MB and £15 for 3GB.

"You live for texts and mobile internet, but you like to talk as well. This plan is perfect - and it's just £30 a month, including unlimited texts," Vodafone says.

"You also get a staggering 1GB of data - enough for 10,000 web pages, over 16 hours of streaming video and generally getting the best from your iPhone apps. Want more? There's unlimited Wi-Fi at any BT Openzone hotspot. Perfect for those marathon internet sessions." That compares with the controversial 750MB 'fair use' limit offered by Orange.

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Supermarket giant Tesco, started selling the iPhone last Monday, and is offering the iPhone 3G and iPhone 3GS to customers on the lowest monthly contract price in the UK. The Tesco iPhone deal includes a 12-month contract priced at £20 per month for the iPhone 3G 8GB model. Customers will, however, have to pay a higher initial rate of £222 to purchase the iPhone 3G or £320 to purchase an iPhone 3GS.

The £20 per month Tesco tariff includes £60 worth of credit to spend on texts and phone calls. Calls cost 20p per minute, and texts are 10p each with half price deals on five of your favourite numbers. The 12-month contract includes 12-months of free data. The small print reads: "Unlimited Web and Wi-Fi including BT Openzone Wi-Fi (UK) access: fair use policy applies."

The 12 month contract with Tesco works out at approximately £163 cheaper than its rivals. The total cost for an iPhone 3G with Tesco over 12 months is £462.

Vodafone UK CEO Guy Laurence meanwhile, said the company had had been preparing its network for 12 months and more to handle the introduction of the iPhone.

"We started preparing our network over a year ago so that iPhone customers will really feel the advantage of being with Vodafone," Laurence said.

"We will offer an outstanding iPhone experience wherever our customers live, work and travel, delivering speed and reliability - something our customers have told us they really value."

"We're especially pleased to offer iPhone to business customers from launch, both directly and through a network of 20 dealers across the country - clearly demonstrating that Vodafone is the natural home for small business."

Customers will be able to pre-order their iPhone from today, in-store or online at vodafone.co.uk/iphone.

In October, Vodafone announced that it has signed an agreement to offer the Apple iPhone in both the UK and Irish markets starting in early 2010. This brings to thirteen the number of countries where Vodafone offers the iPhone.