Thursday, September 12, 2013

Chinese regulator grants iPhone 5S, 5C licenses to Apple, for China Mobile's network

Apple's iPhone has been available in China, the world's largest mobile phone market, for some time, but not on the country's -- and the world's -- largest carrier, China Mobile. It's been rumored for some time that the iPhone was about to come to that carrier, and a Wednesday report in the Wall Street Journal seems to point the the final hurdle being crossed.

The report says that China's Telecom Equipment Certification Center has given the go-ahead for Apple's iPhone to run on China Mobile's cellular network.

It's unclear exactly why Apple has taken so long to embrace the world's largest single wireless carrier. To date, the iPhone has only been available on China Unicom and China Telecom. However, the fact that China Mobile used -- and continues to use -- proprietary standards for its network (TD-SCDMA for 3G, TD-LTE for 4G) were surely issues for Apple.

It's also possible that China Mobile simply played hardball with Apple, and didn't want to give Apple everything the Cupertino, Calif.-based company wanted. Apple's leverage may have been lessened, though; a December 2012 IDC report said that Apple had dropped to no. 6 among smartphones in China.

On Wednesday, however, China's Telecom Equipment Certification Center said that Apple had been given a "network access license" for an iPhone that runs on the TD-SCDMA and TD-LTE networks used by China Mobile. Other licenses were granted to Apple for handsets using the standards of both China Unicom and China Telecom.

Carriers in China usually begin selling new handsets within weeks of approval by the Telecom Equipment Certification Center. On Tuesday, Apple said that -- for the first time -- its newest iPhones, the iPhone 5S and 5c, would go on sale in China on Sept. 20, at the same time they launch in the United States.

Past iPhones have launched in the Asian giant's market months after the initial launch date.

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