India CDMA Carriers Working on iPhone Deals

India cell service providers Reliance Communications and Tata Teleservices are apparently negotiating with Apple to carry the iPhone on their CDMA-based networks. If true, their talks add more fuel to the rumors that Apple could be building a CDMA version of its popular iPhone that’s currently compatible only with GSM-based cell networks.

One unnamed source familiar with the discussions said “Tata has been in talks with [Apple] for four to five months now,” according to the Wall Street Journal.

Currently, the iPhone is available in India through Vodafone and Bharti AirTel. Both carriers use GSM technology for their cell networks, just like AT&T in the United States.

Apple’s iPhone can’t operate on CDMA cell networks because the technology isn’t compatible with GSM-based equipment. Adding carriers that rely on CDMA would require Apple to build a second iPhone model that supports the technology.

Rumors that Apple has been working on a CDMA-based iPhone for Verizon in the U.S. have been circulating for some time, and have even included several launch dates that have come and gone without the mythical device appearing. Assuming the insider sources are correct and Apple is negotiating with Tata and Reliance, there’s at least a little more evidence that a CDMA-based iPhone is in the works, even if it doesn’t come to Verizon’s network.

There isn’t any word on when the carrier negotiations may be completed, and Apple isn’t offering any comment.