Apple may finally be close to closing a deal with China Mobile, the world’s largest wireless carrier, as the company has received the required licensing for its iPhone lineup from Chinese government regulators. The phone maker also announced a deal this week with Japan’s largest wireless provider, NTT DoCoMo.
China’s Telecom Equipment Certification Center was updated on Wednesday to reveal that Apple had been granted a “network access license” for an iPhone that would run on China Mobile’s network, according to The Wall Street Journal. The devices would be compatible with China Mobile’s 3G and 4G LTE networks.
Apple also received approval for iPhones for use with carriers China Unicom and China Telecom, both of which are scheduled to receive the iPhone 5s and iPhone 5c when they go on sale globally next Friday, September 20th.
China Mobile subscribers will have to wait awhile however, as KGI Analyst Ming-Chi Kuo says the iPhone will launch on that network before the end of the year, giving China Mobile the time to finish its rollout of its TD-LTE high-speed network.
Apple’s new handsets, the iPhone 5s and iPhone 5c both support China Mobile’s TD-LTE bands, further suggesting the carrier has already quietly sealed the deal with Apple. TD-LTE is an “oddball” flavor of 4G, used by China Mobile.
Apple did indeed announce a deal with Japan’s largest wireless provider, NTT DoCoMo, this week, giving them access to the carriers 61 million subscribers. Both new iPhones will launch on that carrier on September 20th.
Analyst Chris Withmore of Deutsche Bank predicts the deal with DoCoMo, and the probable deal with China Mobile could drive an additional 35 million handset sales in the calendar year 2014.