China Mobile, the world’s largest carrier with over 655 million subscribers, is in talks with Apple to bring the iPhone to its homegrown 3G (TD-SCDMA) network. The carrier’s chairman, Xi Guohua, confirmed the discussions during a shareholders meeting earlier this week.
“We’ve been actively talking to Apple on how we can cooperate,” Xi said. “I can’t give you too many details, but I’d like to repeat that both sides do hope to boost our cooperation.”
One of reasons why the iPhone hasn’t made it to China Mobile during its first five years is that the device does not support China Mobile’s TD-SCDMA network. However, analysts have claimed that the next-generation iPhone will feature a new wireless chip from Qualcomm that will remove that barrier.
Of course, this isn’t the first time we’ve heard that the iPhone will come to China Mobile. Xi’s predecessor, Wang Jianzhou, previously revealed that Apple had “promised” to provide the carrier with an LTE-capable iPhone when it had one:
We have not yet got [an] agreement [though] Apple promised to provide, when they develop the iPhone for LTE, that it will include TD-LTE. We are discussing the details.
The next-generation device is expected to be the first to boast an LTE chip after Apple introduced the 4G technology to its third-generation iPad back in March, and rumors claim that the device will make its debut this October — around 12 months after the iPhone 4S got its unveiling.
Despite incompatibility with China Mobile’s 3G network, 15 million users continue to use the iPhone on the carrier’s 2G network.