The Chinese government granted 4G TD-LTE licenses to China Mobile, China Telecom, and China Unicom on Wednesday, which is good news for smartphone makers such as Apple and the carriers since they can now officially launch their faster wireless data networks. Even better for Apple is the possibility of finally swinging an iPhone deal with China Mobile, the world's largest cell service provider, now that the carrier has a license for compatible technology.
Apple already has deals in place with China Unicom and China Telecom, but hasn't yet been able to get a foot in the door with China Mobile. The carrier has been building out its 4G network, and now that it can offer wireless service that's compatible with the iPhone there's a better chance the two companies can reach an agreement.
China Mobile is planning on holding a media event on December 18 where it will show off its 4G network, and there has been speculation that the event will also include an iPhone announcement. If so, Apple will finally have official access to well over 740 million potential iPhone buyers.
None of the carriers have said yet exactly when they'll start offering 4G service to their customers, although China Mobile has already started testing its new infrastructure. Apple isn't talking, either, but the company did win TD-LTE approval earlier this year for its iPhone models which means it is now just waiting on China's cell service providers.
China is expected to approve FDD-LTE for use in the country soon, too, which will bring even more opportunities for smartphone makers. China Unicom and China Telecom are expected to apply for FDD-LTE licenses as soon as they can since both prefer it over TD-LTE.
[Thanks to Reuters for the heads up]