There are "thousands" of iPhones running on the 3 network across the UK, a spokesperson for the operator has told Pocket-lint.

The comment came in response to our query following a report from The Telegraph that all five mobile carriers in the UK are currently offering the iPhone, whether or not they are official operator partners.  

T-Mobile has been offering the device to high-spending customers as part of an unofficial retention plan, and  3 is employing the same policy, albeit in very limited numbers.

"Thousands of people have chosen to use their iPhone on the 3 network", the 3 spokesperson told us, referring to iPhones that have either been unofficially unlocked - "jailbroken" - or officially unlocked and in the UK via distribution channels in Europe.

O2 is currently the only official Apple iPhone partner in the UK, but is soon to be joined by T-Mobile merger partner Orange this year and Vodafone in 2010.