updated 12:10 pm EDT, Thu May 19, 2011
Groundwork being set for LTE iPhones worldwide?
Carrier China Mobile has "reached consensus" with Apple on using TD-LTE technology in future iPhones, according to MarketWatch. The company's chairman, Wang Jianzhou, has however refused to say exactly what was agreed upon, and notes that talks are still continuing. The statement could signify that Apple has at least agreed to support TD-LTE, a variant of the regular LTE standard used elsewhere.
Wang mentions that over 4 million China Mobile customers are using iPhones, even though China Unicom is the country's only official iPhone carrier. China is home to what may be the world's largest gray market for iPhones, even though scalpers charge extra on top of what is already an extremely expensive device for locals. Apple is believed to be working to expand official sales.
China Mobile trials of TD-LTE are set to begin next year. The company's talks suggest that Apple is hoping to have a wide international reach for the first LTE iPhone, which is expected to ship sometime in 2012. Because LTE is a relatively new technology though, the hardware will almost certainly be backwards-compatible with 3G networks.