China’s third-largest mobile operator, China Telecom Corp, Ltd, revealed that it expects launch the CDMA version of Apple’s iPhone 4S in mainland China in late February or early March. The move would increase pressure on its rivals in the fight to win subscribers to the 3G network service.
Shen Jingting, writing for China Daily:
In a news release on Monday, Beijing Telecom Co Ltd, a subsidiary of China Telecom, said the CDMA-version iPhone 4S is likely to hit the domestic market by the end of February, or at the beginning of March. However, no pricing details were disclosed.
“China Telecom has already started preparatory work for the launch of the iPhone 4S,” according to the press release.
The device, built for the company’s CDMA2000 network, has already obtained all three required operating licenses.
The CDMA2000 wireless standard is the 3G network technology used by China Telecom.
The China Radio Management Office granted Apple’s application for a handset that operates on the CDMA2000 network standard in mid-January. China’s Telecommunications Equipment and Certification Center later granted the company the second permit.
The CDMA version iPhone 4S gained the final license on Monday. That license recognizes the device as qualified and can now be sold on the Chinese mainland.
“Launching the iPhone 4S on China Telecom’s own network will stop customers running to China Unicom and help attract new clients from domestic rivals,” said Wang Ying, a telecom analyst with the Beijing-based research firm Analysis International.
China United Network Communications Ltd (China Unicom), the nation’s second-largest wireless carrier, is still the only operator offering the Apple device on contract. The iPhone has assisted the carrier in achieving the fastest-growing 3G user numbers in China, with more than 40 million subscribers at the end of 2011.
China Telecom had 36.3 million 3G users by that date, compared with 51.2 million for China Mobile Ltd.
An iPhone compatible with China Telecom’s technology should encourage the usage of the device by tens of millions of subscribers. Apple currently is the number 4 smartphone vendor in China, trailing Nokia, Samsung and Huawei Technologies.