updated 09:50 am EST, Mon March 5, 2012
Report says Apple supporting unofficial carrier
Apple has contributed to fixing a problem with using the iPhone 4S on China Mobile, the People's Daily reports. Some 4S owners have been having trouble activating SIM cards, or else simply making calls with a full signal. A telecom expert reached by the Daily notes that the issue appears to involve the 4S only supporting the GSM P band -- 885-915MHz -- and not the E band (880-890MHz), although both are used by China Mobile.
The P band is said to primarily be for outdoor use, while E is intended for indoor areas. Moving into an area without P coverage can cause a 4S to drop its connection, even though it technically reports full signal. China Mobile claims that Apple has updated every iPhone 4S built after February 8th to be fully compatible with the carrier's network.
Mobile also states Apple will issue a firmware update for earlier 4S models in early March, and that 4S owners will be notified when the time comes. That schedule coincides with an expected iPad 3 announcement; Apple often pairs new hardware with new firmware, even if software revisions are only minor.
Apple supporting China Mobile is extremely unusual, as the carrier lacks an official iPhone deal. It is however the world's largest cellular provider, with hundreds of millions of subscribers. Many gray-market iPhones are bought in China with the explicit purpose of signing them up to Mobile. The carrier should eventually become an official iPhone vendor, but only once an LTE model is released.