updated 12:15 am EDT, Wed July 13, 2011
China Telecom gets CDMA iPhone late 2011
A late-night leak Tuesday has backed China Telecom carrying the iPhone by "close" to the end of 2011. Thanks to the existence of CDMA models, the company has all the technology and just needs to complete a deal. One Reuters tip warned that Apple's often strict negotiations didn't guarantee a deal, but another had the release narrowed down to November.
China Telecom isn't considered Apple's ultimate target but would be important. As the second-largest carrier in China, it would be larger than current iPhone provider China Unicom and significantly expand Apple's subscriber base. The American firm is known to be negotiating with China Mobile as well and could have all of the top three carriers under its wing by the end of 2011.
Either of the deals would likely be vital to expanding Apple's reach in China and to curbing a rush of Android phones in the country, particularly from China-native designers like Huawei and ZTE. Apple's most explosive growth in the past year has been in southeast Asia and could see it reach a much wider audience in a country with 896 million cellphone users, albeit only some with incomes high enough to afford an iPhone.
The plan could also make it the first carrier outside of the US to get a CDMA iPhone. Apple has reportedly been in talks with India's Reliance and Tata for deals but isn't yet known to have made progress. If Apple waits until the iPhone 5, it may not have to have separate models as it could ship a dual-mode design that works on both CDMA and GSM networks.