All signs point to 3G

Employee emails banning vacation from June to July. Reneged Wi-Fi support. Rumors of subsidies and out of stock handsets. As we grow closer to the one-year anniversary of the launch of Apple’s iPhone, the shady dealings around the handset have grown omnipotent.

The Boy Genius Report got ahold of an internal Apple email banning employees from taking vacation from June 15th to July 12. There was no mention of the iPhone, just that that the request was due to “an exciting Summer Promotional Launch to enable your sales to soar.” This email said that Apple again anticipates heavier than normal customer traffic in its stores during those months. A strikingly similar letter was sent to employees last year coinciding with the iPhone’s launch, and this “heavy sales period” matches that of last year. A coincidence? Doubtful.

AT&T is in on the shadiness this time, too. This week the carrier updated its iPhone product page to say that iPhone users could get free access to 17,000 Wi-Fi hotspots across the U.S. Today, that information is gone. AT&T has yet to explain, but it is notable that a 3G phone would essentially preclude the need for Wi-Fi connections.

Still most of the 3G hints have come from overseas. Spanish carrier America Movil – which has already rolled out 3G networks in 14 countries in Latin America – said yesterday that it would sell the iPhone to its nearly 160 million customers throughout the region. This was announced just days after Vodafone said it too would bring the iPhone to 10 of its markets. The carrier changed its tune after blaspheming the handset’s EDGE speed and Apple’s data revenue sharing policy last year. Could promise of a 3G phone be incentive for the carrier to change its tune?

Over in the UK, O2 yesterday posted to its site that the 8GB and 16GB iPhones are no longer available to UK customers. 8GB iPhone from O2 sold out after the carrier offered a discount on them; however, this is the first time that both versions are unavailable. Pretty curious considering Apple is certainly not out of stock.

Come on, there is only so much teasing we can take. With less than two months to go before the infamous Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference in San Fransisco, the 3G iPhone seems more and more like a foregone conclusion. Everyone else involved – AT&T, overseas partners, developers and customers – have hinted at it. Now, we just have to wait for Apple’s confirmation. At this point, just don’t plan any vacations in June or July. You can hopefully use the money you saved for the iPhone 2.0.

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